Mini Pause #10: How to Grow Muscles Without Lifting Heavier

Injury Prevention, Part 2

TL,DR (too long, didn’t read)

In last week’s Mini Pause #9, I talked about ways you can maximize muscle growth and simultaneously prevent injury. Today’s issue continues to explore how to maximize muscle growth without lifting heavier.

Full range of motion—defined as your range of motion that is not restricted and is pain-free—is one of the most effective ways to maximize muscle gains and future-proof your body for injury. Other variables like increasing volume (both in rep and set number), as well as decreasing the time in between sets, are other ways to increase the intensity of the exercise without lifting heavy weights.

WHY

In Mini Pause #9, we discussed the similarities between injury prevention and muscle hypertrophy, and, like most things, it turns out I have more to say about it.

In addition to doing a sport-specific warm-up, working the eccentric and the longest point of the muscle there are a few other variables I’d like to discuss that will help you on your muscle-building journey to becoming comfortable with lifting without injury.

We often hear online that women should lift heavy sh*t. I agree. And, I recognize that many women our age grew up on cardio machines and may not have the neuromechanical integrity or muscle memory to do this well without getting injured.

We must think about improving our strength before we work on power [*].

So, here are a few more ways you can think about growing muscle without adding on weight.

Your goal, eventually, is to progress and lift heavier with time. The key word is eventually. There is no rush, and you can take your sweet time learning. Learn the movement pattern the right way the first time and you will enjoy muscle mommy injury-free status.

WHAT

Full ROM

Building on Mini Pause #9’s idea of working the muscle at its weakest point, your range of motion both for the muscle and the joint is an imperative tool for staying in the gym. You want to get all those muscle gains and prevent injury.

Said another way, if you cannot perform the full range of motion as God and your joints intended, you are missing out on a lot of potential muscle gains [*], as well as future-proofing your body for injury.

This isn’t rehab my Bettys; this is even better. It’s prehab—getting the movement patterning right the first time so that you evade injury and grow the muscle in a safe and controlled way.

If you are dealing with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or any other arthritide [*] for that matter, full range of motion to preserve the joints [*] in question is the absolute name of the game.

In treating my patients with rheumatoid arthritis, the weight on the bar was the least important aspect of working out. It was not important at all. My focus was all about answering the question: What range of motion can this person do without restriction and pain? Then, building on range from there.

Whether you’re a beginner in the gym or someone with 10,000 hours clocked, exploring your range of motion can be how you tweak your routine to stimulate muscle growth AND improve capsular and joint integrity.

Let’s explore this with shoulder training.

Photo 1: Dumbbell lateral raise parallel.

If you’re like me and want glute-sized delts, most of your shoulder work should be focused on the side deltoid muscle, because that is what gives presence to the shoulders when looking at them head-on. (Plus, if you’ve set up your programming correctly, your front and rear delts are going to be hit during chest and back days).

What does full range of motion look like for the lateral deltoid? This is going to, in part, depend on the health of your shoulders.

Let’s assume this is a dumbbell lateral raise. If you are dealing with an injury, you might aim to lift them to about parallel. Something like photo 1.

As you nurse the injury, or if lifting to parallel becomes easier and you feel ready to progress, instead of graduating to a higher weight, keep the same weight, but lift it higher than parallel.

In photo 2, my arms are abducting now to greater than 120 degrees. This is incredibly difficult, and in doing this, you may even need to drop the weights to do the motion properly.

You can continue the movement arc to the top. You want to think about the range of motion for the muscle, and not just simply the movement. You lift until you don’t feel your delts anymore, and it’s all upper traps (this will usually happen north of 120 degrees of abduction with the elevation of the arm shifting from primarily the deltoid to the traps).

Photo 2: Dumbbell lateral raise abduction more than 120 degrees.

Volume

Another way you can accelerate injury recovery and muscle growth without lifting heavy weights is through increasing volume [*]. Meaning, either increasing the repetitions per set or increasing the total number of sets performed.

When intensity is equated [*], we see similar gains in both individuals repping out heavy weights for fewer reps or sets compared with lighter weights with more reps and/or sets.

The signal to the muscle is similar [*] when lifting heavy weights vs. lifting lighter but for many more reps. As long as you get close to failure, you’re going to achieve a similar result.

I often do this in week 4 of my cycle. In my book, The Betty Body [*], I talk about reps in the 15- to 30-rep range with lighter weights to accommodate some of the inflammation many women feel around their cycle.

Truth be told, I will also do this when I haven’t slept well or just am not in the mental space to lift heavy.

Rest Time Between Sets

Another way to manipulate the intensity of your workout without adding weights is to decrease the rest time in between your sets. This works well (read: you will feel the burn!) if you are increasing your volume of the reps in the set.

The burn you feel in the muscle toward the end of a set is an accumulation of metabolic debris and stress. We often rest between sets to allow for this debris to clear and for the muscle to be fresh and ready for its next set.

There’s a lot of discussion about the ideal time to rest between sets, but generally, here are a few good indicators:

  • Your heart rate has returned to baseline or near baseline (I use a polar heart rate monitor for this).
  • Any accessory muscles used in the movement also feel good (e.g., the lower back muscles during a squat, the biceps during a pull-up, or the triceps during a chest press).
  • The target muscles themselves feel ready to work again.

This is probably going to fall in the one- to five-minute range depending on the recovery items above. Decreasing your rest time is another way to elevate the intensity [*] of the workout.

HOW & NOW

  • Keep your training program the same—no need to change anything!
  • Drop the weights (and your ego telling you not to try anything new!) and explore your current range of motion with every movement. Your range is going to be defined as the most movement through an arc that is not restricted or is pain-free.
  • Work your current range of motion with lighter weights while dialing up your volume. Increase your reps from anywhere from 15-30 reps. For example, if your current reps are 15, bump it up to 20. You also can add one more set to your current set split. If you’re currently doing three sets, make it four.
  • One more way to ramp up your intensity is to decrease the rest time between sets. To do this, use your phone as a timer and just see what your current rest time is with your workouts this week. You can start by decreasing this time by 30 seconds next week.

Question of the Week

Q: How can women avoid dyslipidemia during menopause?

If you are starting to see your lipid levels start to climb in menopause, there are a few ways to help improve this. First, we can think about the variables we can control and then perhaps the variables we cannot.

VARIABLES YOU CAN CONTROL

In the Mini Pause #6, I discussed the changes we see in body composition in our 40s through menopause. Some of the suggestions I outlined were:

Consider the composition of your calories.

  • In my book, The Betty Body, I detail a female-centric ketogenic diet for women looking to lose weight, and more specifically, lose visceral fat.
  • The ketogenic diet (high fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrate) has been shown to improve all measures of body composition including body weight, body mass index, waist circumference, fat mass, fat-free mass, lean body mass, visceral adipose tissue, and body fat percentage

Lift weights with the intention of putting on muscle mass.

  • As we have been discussing, you can lift heavy, or you can lift lighter while controlling the eccentric, increasing the volume of reps and sets, and working the weakest part of the muscle to maximize muscle gain.
  • Work until the muscle is done like dinner.

Exercise snack your way through the day.

  • We are designed to have a lot of low-grade activity throughout the day. If you are someone who sits at a desk for several hours a day, consider investing in an under-desk treadmill and a convertible desktop stand to be able to get some consistent walking through the day. It doesn’t need to be fast: 1.0 to 1.5 mph is plenty!

For improving lipids specifically, I have a few more recommendations that have a good amount of robust literature to support them:

  • Consume phytoestrogenic foods [*]. Once demonized, phytoestrogens are a great choice for peri and postmenopausal women alike. Phytoestrogens can potentially reduce atherosclerosis and atherosclerosis-related diseases through multiple mechanisms like regulating lipid metabolism, lowering cytokine levels, and improving the coagulation/fibrinolysis system.
  • Dose up your Omega 3s. It’s well established that Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective, and sensitize the body to insulin [*]. I like a minimum dose of 2g, and I often take experimental doses much higher than this. (Check out BodyBio, my new favorite Omega 3s. Use code DRSTEPHANIE for a discount.)
  • Take antioxidants like dark berries and green leafy vegetables to combat oxidative stress. The highest antioxidant content is found in almonds, artichokes, blackberries, blueberries, cherries (sour), chocolate (yay!), cloves, coffee (double yay!), cranberries, grape juice, cranberry juice, pomegranate juice, pecans, raspberries, spinach, strawberries, and walnuts.

VARIABLES YOU CANNOT CONTROL

For the things you cannot control, this is most obviously going to be the amount of sex hormones you produce as you age. Specifically, estradiol.

During a woman’s fertile life, the average level of total estrogen is 100–250 pg/mL. Estrogens are produced primarily in the ovaries via a process that uses low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) as a substrate. In menopause circulatory LDL-C can no longer be utilized to synthesize estrogen. This is, in part, why menopause is associated with increased blood LDL-C levels and enhanced cardiovascular risk.

Speaking to your doctor about hormone replacement therapy is a great (dare I say necessary) option for regulating lipids in our postmenopausal life.

I can tell you with certainty that when my hormone levels begin to drop, or I am symptomatic, I will be seeking this out in addition to the lifestyle factors I teach and write about.

YOUR TURN!

I’ll be answering your questions every week right here in the Mini Pause! Let me know what’s on your mind. I’ll be checking for both questions and feedback at support@drstephanieestima.com.

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P.S.

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Mini Pause #7: Great Skin Health Inside & Out

How to Make Your Skin Health a Priority–One Habit at a Time

TL,DR (too long, didn’t read)

We lose collagen and elastin at a rate of one percent per year, and over time, we often see more wrinkles, poor elasticity, and decreased hydration of the skin. Supplementation and a proper skincare routine can help to reverse the skin aging process.

I’ve outlined best practices in food, lifestyle, supplements, and skin routines in today’s newsletter. The links throughout take you right to the science behind this information.

WHY

As we age, many of us notice changes in skin quality. Dull skin, fine lines, and a loss of elasticity are among the most common grievances in women during perimenopause and menopause.

While fillers and injectables are certainly options, I would put them second in line after a few items well within your control–your nutrition (or your internal health), your exercise habits, and your skin routine (external topicals). All of these can address wrinkles, elasticity, and hydration both from the inside out and outside in.

While you likely won’t see immediate results, when done consistently, you may see a noticeable difference in your skin in about three months.

I’ve made a personal goal to have my best skin ever this year, and it has become such an interesting rabbit hole to go down!

WHAT

Fine Lines & Wrinkles
The facial muscles are a group of about 20 flat skeletal muscles lying underneath the skin of the face and scalp. Most of them originate from the bones or fibrous structures of the skull and radiate to insert on the skin. This is a unique feature of facial muscles–a direct insertion point to the skin.

Other skeletal muscles typically originate from and insert into bone. The insertion directly into the skin is what allows for the face to move.

Years of facial expression start to show up at perpendicular angles to the muscle fibres. For example, the infamous “11” lines in between the eyebrows are exactly perpendicular to the muscle fibres of the procerus muscle. This muscle originates off the nasal bone and then flares upwards and inserts into the skin of the forehead. It is involved in furrowing or depressing the medial part (inside part) of the eyebrow.

This is in part due to wear and tear, but also an accumulation of oxidative stress, and a decrease in collagen and elastin production. As we age, this can look like a one- to two-percent loss per year.

Elasticity
It’s well known that collagen hydrolysate has several positive biological actions in the body, such as acting as an antioxidant, an antihypertensive, and being involved in lipid-lowering activities, and reparative actions in damaged skin.

Collagen is super interesting because it has a dual action in the skin where it first provides the building block components for collagen and elastin to be synthesized in the body. It then binds to dermal receptors to stimulate the synthesis of collagen and elastin as well as hyaluronic acid.

I think collagen is the heavyweight champ of skin supplements.

Hydration
Drink more water–YES! We all have to do this.

I typically aim to drink 3-4 litres daily. Most days, I settle on 2.5 to 3 litres. One thing that helps me is flavoring the water. I often add cucumbers and blueberries to a big jug. This little action makes the water feel more special.

Another component of hydration is your ability to hold onto that hydration. This is where you might find an electrolyte helpful.

Electrolytes, including sodium, potassium, and chloride, are minerals that carry an electric charge when they dissolve in water. Sodium is a cation with a positive charge (Na2+), while chloride is an anion with a negative charge (Cl2-). Other common electrolytes include phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium.

Electrolytes are involved in:

  • transporting nutrients to cells,
  • transporting waste out of cells,
  • proper function of nerves, heart, brain, and muscles,
  • pH balance, and
  • fluid balance.

Hormones
While hot flashes are often ascribed to “typical” menopausal symptoms, declining levels of estrogen can have devastating effects on our skin and hair.

Decreased estrogen levels in perimenopause and menopause can look like:

  • skin dryness and itchiness (pruritus),
  • skin thinning and atrophy,
  • wrinkles and sagging,
  • poor wound healing, and
  • reduced vascularity of the skin.

Many women find that using topical estradiol on the face and décolletage area improves the appearance of the skin. This topical application does not act systemically when applied only to the face. However, you must discuss this use with your primary healthcare provider and consider your individual risk factors.

HOW

LIFESTYLE INPUTS
Generally, consuming darker-colored foods like blueberries, blackberries, pomegranates, cherries, raspberries, etc., are great for skin health as they contain polyphenols that love your skin. Salmon, avocados, nuts, and seeds are good foods to be consuming often for their healthy fats.

Resistance Training: In researching for this newsletter, I was delighted to discover that resistance training also positively contributes to healthy skin by reducing circulating inflammation, increasing skin turnover rates, and by thickening the dermal matrix.

  • This is great for women in their 40s and beyond! Why? Because the tendency is for our skin to get thinner with declining collagen and estrogen levels.

Cardio: Tomato-faced cardio bunnies rejoice! Regular cardio is going to be wonderful for improving circulation to the face, which allows the blood to deliver nutrients to the skin.

  • Cardio also helps to increase mitochondrial function of the skin cells and reduce circulatory inflammation factors.

Red Light Therapy: This has been one of the interventions (above resistance training and regular cardio) with which I have noticed the biggest difference.

  • Research shows that red light therapy, or photobiomodulation, improves the enhancement of mitochondrial adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production, cell signaling and growth factor synthesis, and the reduction of oxidative stress.
  • I invested in the BON CHARGE Red Light Face Mask and the Red Light Neck & Chest Mask and I use them daily in the morning when I check my emails. This is a simple habit stack! I always check my emails at my desk, so it’s an ideal time for me to pop these on while I organize my inbox.

Supplements: Collagen Supplementation: A daily scoop of hydrolyzed collagen has been shown to augment the effects of aging including poor elasticity, fine lines and wrinkles, and skin hydration. I add a heaping scoop of Equip Foods collagen or mindbodygreen collagen to my morning water as I’m heading to the gym.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D is well known for improving many hallmarks of skin aging. Here are a few good things that it does:

  • prevents DNA damage,
  • stimulates DNA repair mechanisms,
  • regulates keratinocyte proliferation (keratinocytes produce keratin and make up 90 percent of your epidermal cells), and
  • regulates mighty antioxidative responses.

I love the mindbodygreen Vitamin D3/K2 supplements. I take 4000 IU in the spring and summertime, and pump it up to 6000 IU in the wintertime.

Electrolytes: I use LMNT, a salt-based electrolyte, daily with hot water. My current favorite is Chocolate Caramel. My regular rotation includes Watermelon, Grapefruit, and Raspberry.

OUTSIDE INPUTS
I have incorporated these steps into my skincare routine following a conversation with my friend Dr. Tony Youn on the Better! podcast at the start of this year. This cadence included Dr. Youn’s routine essentials for better skin through topicals:

Morning Skin Routine: 1. Cleanser, 2. Vitamin C or antioxidant serum, 3. Sunscreen

Evening Skin Routine: 1. Cleanser, 2. Retinoid, 3. Moisturizer

I am also becoming interested in peptides and stem cells and their ability to help rejuvenate the skin. Coming up:

  • Dr. Adeel Khan will be a guest on the podcast to discuss regenerative medicine through stem cells and peptides (not just for skin, but aging in general).
  • I’m visiting his clinic to have some peptide treatments done on my skin and can’t wait to share the results with you!
  • And, I’m already knee-deep in stem cell and peptide research and will have a special Mini Pause newsletter on this topic.

NOW

You may have some of these foundations already in place like eating good fats, or resistance training.

I want you to pick only one item from the HOW section that you want to incorporate into your existing skin routine. One of the best ways to make it “stick” is to pair it with something you are already doing. For example:

  • I put collagen into water I am already taking to the gym.
  • I use my red light face mask when I am seated and already checking my emails in the morning.

Habit stacking is an efficient way to make a small–and significant change–to your routine that won’t be overwhelming. This way the new habit is not an extra step, it is blending into an existing one.

YOUR TURN!

What are your skincare questions? Which one of these steps are you going to try? Let me know at support@drstephanieestima.com.

Discover Beauty That Fits Your Style

When I find something awesome that makes a difference in my health, I want to share it with my Bettys. So, if you vist the items I’ve shared in today’s newsletter, here are discount codes for you to use. I hope you love these products as much as I do!

  • Equip Foods collagen; use code DRSTEPHANIE
  • mindbodygreen collagen; use code DRSTEPHANIE
  • mindbodygreen vitamin D3/K2; use code DRSTEPHANIE
  • LMNT electrolytes; direct link to free sample pack with purchase
  • OneSkin peptide skincare (cleanser, sunscreen, moisturizer); use code DRSTEPHANIE
  • Timeline Skin Health serum; use code ESTIMASKIN
  • BON CHARGE red light masks; use code DRSTEPHANIE
  • Bonus! In a previous Mini Pause issue, I mentioned my love affair with Rose Best Skin Ever and Rose Glow Serum by Living Libations. They are both divine in a bottle! The link auto-applies a discount at checkout.

Question of the Week

Q: What about fibre?

From the Bettyverse: Thank you, Gabi, for asking for more about this topic!

I have a question related to the comment about fibre. There seems to be so much conflicting information about whether we need fibre at all. For instance, I hear of the carnivore diet being good for autoimmune issues and as long as you have enough dietary fat (not too much, not too little) you will have normal bowel movements. But I’ve also heard that women benefit from fibre to rid the body of excess estrogen.

My personal issue is inflammation of my joints. (For context, I’m 45, perimenopause (regular cycles, low progesterone/ estrogen dominant), and have been healthy keto for five years. I manage everything through diet and appropriate supplements. )

Could you say more about whether we “need” fibre and why? And the place of plant-free/fibre-free diets like carnivore?

WHAT THE SCIENCE SAYS

This is a multilayered question and I will try to address all of it succinctly.

I guess the short answer here is, you–need fibre. Full stop. I don’t care if the carnivore community says it isn’t important. That is inconsistent with the robust amount of literature and clinical outcomes that say otherwise.

A staggering amount of evidence demonstrates that fibre consumption reduces heart disease and cancer. (Another meta-analysis review here.) fibre has an unwavering and amazing ability to reduce LDL cholesterol. Many studies have demonstrably shown a 20-25% reduction in LDL cholesterol levels with adequate fibre intake.

In cancer risk, more fibre consumption has best shown a reduction in colorectal cancer by about 20%, as well as other cancers we care about like ovarian and breast cancers. Fibre plays a role in the estrobolome (the area of the gut dedicated to processing estrogen) and does help to bind to and get rid of estrogens.

KEY POINT

If you are going to eat a lot of meat, it is probably a good idea to pair it with a lot of fruit and veg.

Typically, individuals who eat high amounts of meat often miss out on the opportunity to consume foods with fibre. That does drive up the risk for heart disease and cancer over the long term.Vegan ideology might be tempted to conclude that it is meat consumption that drives heart disease and cancer. Hear me on this: it’s the lack of fibre consumption in individuals who consume meat that drives up cancer risk.

Clinically, this is where we need to think with a little bit of nuance.

SHORT-TERM VS. LONG-TERM BEHAVIOR

Going carnivore for a year, in the grand scheme of your 85+ year life doesn’t affect health outcomes. Just like if you have elevated LDL cholesterol levels for one year in the context of 85 years of healthy LDL cholesterol levels also doesn’t marginally affect outcomes. What is far more important is the chronic elevation of LDL over many decades that drives up the risk for these multifactorial diseases.

Imagine it another way. Remember when you were a silly, naive teenager and did dumb stuff with your friends because you thought you were invincible? While the activities you engaged in (and compounds you ingested) were probably really bad for you at the time, they aren’t going to be predictive of health for your entire life. It was a year, or two (or five) of doing dumb stuff. And then you came to your senses and corrected your behavior.

Now, before you send me a message about why I am hating on carnivore and how great the carnivore diet was for you–I get it! I, too, have used carnivore interventions in autoimmune patients with great success. The big idea I am trying to convey is that the intervention, while it worked in the short term, is designed to be transient. It doesn’t last forever.

Because the diet you need when you are sick is not the same one you need when you are well.

YOUR TURN!

I’ll be answering your questions every week right here in the Mini Pause! Let me know what’s on your mind. I’ll be checking for both questions and feedback at support@drstephanieestima.com.

Mini Pause #3: Add ‘Exercise Snacks’ To Your Movement Menu

Exercise Snacks: An Easier (Better?) Way to Stick to Your Goals


TL; DR (too long, didn’t read)

Exercise Snacks (exercising in small 5- to 10-minute increments through the day) yield the same, if not slightly better, results than one big session at the gym.   

And we are not just talking about waistline — exercise snacking demonstrates improvement across fasting insulin, fasting glucose, lipids, and cardiorespiraory fitness. They also show a slightly better outcome in body weight and LDL cholesterol!  

WHY

January is a busy month for gyms. If you’ve just joined a gym, or even if you’re a seasoned muscle mommy like me, you may be feeling some of your original New Year’s goals already falling by the wayside. But have no fear — if you’ve set a goal and are having a hard time keeping up with an aggressive gym schedule you’ve set for yourself — I have a solution for you!

Simple exercise snacks.

Since the pandemic, more and more people work from home either permanently or have a hybrid model working from home and being in an office. What has emerged are new work norms that allow you more freedom to find opportunities in your day for movement.  

I’ve always said moving consistently through the day trumps one big workout followed by sitting for 12 hours. And there’s robust scientific evidence to back this up.

WHAT

This meta-analysis looked at 19 studies with a total of 1080 participants. They were looking for studies that evaluated whether one bout (continuous) of exercise was better, worse, or equal to the same exercise broken into smaller pieces through the day (cumulative or what I am referring to as “exercise snacking”).

They controlled for intensity of the exercise, duration, and type of exercise. Said another way: they were looking for the exact same workout either 1) completed in a single session, or 2) broken up into smaller chunks over the course of the day.

Results showed that the exercise snack group and the single bout group both reduced their total body mass, but the exercise snack group fared slightly better. The exercise snack group and the continuous exercise group both improved their LDL cholesterol, with the snackers faring slightly better here as well.

Both groups improved their total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting blood glucose, and fasting insulin.

Bottom line: both a continuous session at the gym AND exercise snacks can yield comparable results.

There’s mounting evidence that exercise snacks have incredibly positive benefits on your health:

  • like this study looking at exercise snacks on blood glucose levels after a meal
  • or this one on how exercise snacks lower blood lipids after a meal
  • This study showed that 1 minute of all-out sprints (broken down into 3 x 20-second sprints, bookended by 2-minute warmup and cool down) improved cardiometabolic and mitochondrial health AS MUCH AS individuals doing cardio for 45-50 minutes. That’s five times less time and volume!

Pretty compelling, right?

Exercise snacks also alleviate the pressure to get in a big exercise session every day. If you’re able to replicate a 1-hour workout in smaller pieces through the day, the results seem to be equivalent at worst, and superior in terms of body mass and cholesterol levels at best.

HOW

You’ve got two options on how to implement exercise snacks. You can use either option or a combination of both.

  • Option 1: Replace your Gym Session with Exercise Snacks


In order for this to work, you have to think about the intensity and duration of your regular workouts. You’ll want to match your regular, continuous workout by breaking it down into smaller bits.  

So, if you are working out for 60 minutes, your exercise snacks should add up to 60 minutes over the course of the day. That could be 6 x 10-minute sessions, or 12 x 50-minute sessions. And you MUST match the intensity of your regular workout.  

Intensity is subjective, but you can think about it on a scale of one to 10: One being pretty low intensity, and 10 being all out. If your continuous workout was an eight, the exercise snacks also have to be an eight.

This is a GREAT option if you struggle with the time commitment for a bigger gym session, if you travel frequently, or if you’re the family chauffeur driving kids to after-school activities.

  • Option 2: Keep Your Gym Session and Incorporate Exercise Snacks


In full transparency, this option is what I like to do. I’m one of those people who actually enjoys going to the gym. But after researching this topic for this week’s newsletter, I’m going to incorporate more exercise snacks into my day — even on days I get in a workout.   

Exercise snacks are a blessing on travel days, when I’ve slept in and don’t make it to the gym, or for hectic days when I’m just not getting to the gym that day. It’s reassuring to know that these days aren’t a regression, but a progression.

And frankly, these exercise snacks are one of the few reasons I get my sprint training in on my CAROL Bike. I can pop on it and in 5 minutes, I’ve done 3 x 20 second all-out sprints — and haven’t broken a sweat! (If you find you’re interested in a CAROL Bike, you’ll get a discount using code DRSTEPHANIE.)

NOW

Here are some of my favourite exercise snacks. I encourage you to try these and be creative with your own based on how you like to exercise.

  • While I’m making dinner: 20 pushups, 20 air squats, 20 switch lunges
  • While I’m waiting for a plane: walking lunges back and forth near the boarding gate; wall sits; decline pushups at the gate chair
  • When I have 10 minutes before a meeting starts: CAROL Bike sprints (30-second sprint, 90-second recovery, then repeat 3x), or 30 box jumps on plyo boxes I have at home.
  • When I can opt for walking meetings : I’ll take a call and go for a walk around the block. Pro tip: if you have an iPhone, put the “Voice Isolation” mode on. This prioritizes your voice over background noise. I have taken calls at loud airports and at my kids’ soccer games where people are screaming. The lucky caller on the other end of the line cannot hear anything but me.
  • When I’m on soccer mom dutyI alternate lunges on the side of the pitch while my boys practice, and in the summer I sprint around the track (if there is one). This helps me feel less like an Uber driver.

Submit Your Exercise Snacks!

Let us know if you already have some great exercise snacks. Or, if you’re inspired to create new ones, share those, too. Reply to this email and we’ll compile some of the best ideas from you in a downloadable PDF!

Question of the Week

Q: What do you eat after one of your workouts?

I’m preparing a bigger newsletter for you on peri-exercise fuel, but here are some guidelines following a workout.

RESISTANCE TRAINING & CARDIO

I always follow any lift session or cardio with a combination of protein and carbohydrates.  On mornings when I exercise early, this will be breakfast. One recent morning I had five egg whites + one whole egg omelette on a piece of sourdough toast. On the side was 1/4 avocado and some fruit. I also treat myself to a cappuccino with whole fat milk. Not a Starbucks triple grande venti purple long short with sprinkles and foam (or whatever the cool cats are drinking these days) but a regular 3/4 cup-sized cappuccino cup.

If I am about to get my period, I’ll also add in one scoop of protein in water as my “drink” instead of water. I do this because I know I’m going to be hungrier in week four of my cycle, and I preempt that with more calories and specifically more protein.

(If you want to learn more about eating around your cycle, check out my book, The Betty Body.)

YOUR TURN!

I’ll be answering your questions every week right here in the Mini Pause! Let me know what’s on your mind. I’ll be checking for both questions and feedback at support@drstephanieestima.com.

What I Recommend: BON CHARGE

Sometimes all the “steps” for skin care can feel overwhelming. I like efficiency, and I prefer a simple daily routine that doesn’t take a lot of time. I also want great skin.

When I found the Bon Charge Red Light Face Mask, it checked all the boxes and more. It combines red and near-infrared light to diminish fine lines, scars, and blemishes. No matter what your skin type, you can experience a brighter, healthier complexion and firmer, more youthful skin using this mask. I love the results I’ve gotten.

I keep this mask beside my desk and work with it on because it molds comfortably and easily to my face. I can choose the intensity and wear it for as little as 10 minutes and still get all the benefits.

I invite you to visit Bon Charge to learn more about the Red Light Face Mask. Use code DRSTEPHANIE to save 15% sitewide.