Skip to content

PERSONAL BEST: Caffeine helps fuel a morning workout

Question: I'm trying to motivate myself to exercise in the morning before work.
Caffeine helps fuel a morning workout

Question: I'm trying to motivate myself to exercise in the morning before work. What's the best breakfast to have before hitting the gym? Also, how much time should I give myself between eating and working out?

Answer: Great idea! Getting up early might be the best way to squeeze in a workout. If you want to eat first, try something light, like low-fat yogurt, a cup of cooked oatmeal with berries, or fresh fruit. Avoid heavy fats and proteins, like sausage and bacon, and try to eat at least 45 minutes before your workout to prevent cramps.

Many prefer to exercise before eating, but some experience nausea with this. So try both and see what feels best for you.

Another thought to consider is having coffee before a workout. Many find the caffeine, which acts as a stimulant, encourages them to expend more energy in the gym.

Question: I'm a new mom and I'm ready to start shedding some pregnancy weight. Help! I don't even know how to begin.

Answer: Our trainers see many moms with this goal. To be successful, it's important to focus on both nutrition and exercise. Start by stocking up on healthy snacks. With the busy life of a new mom, you'll need quick, tasty options in the fridge, like low-fat deli meats, fat-free pudding and part-skim cheese sticks.

Next, choose between either attending a gym with childcare or exercising at home. Either way, the key to weight loss is consistency and keeping your heart rate up. Consider aerobics, calisthenics and low-resistance weight lifting to start.

A running stroller can be another great investment.

To measure progress, ignore the scale and focus on getting into your prepregnancy jeans. It might even provide a good excuse to add to your wardrobe.

Question: I was losing weight early in the year, but I am no longer seeing results. I am now losing motivation and need to get back on track. Any advice?

Answer: Think about the expression, "You can't outrun a bad diet." It's totally true! After all, you can lose weight with dieting alone, but no amount of exercise combined with poor diet will let you to lose weight consistently. So, if you already follow an exercise plan for at least four hours per week, including cardio and strength training, put more focus on balancing your diet.

One great trick is to plan and prepare a week of food in advance to avoid making poor food selections midweek based on convenience. Keeping a food journal also makes you more accountable for what you eat.

Finally, resist the temptation to reward yourself with junk food after exercise - that's just not how it works!

Shaun Karp is a certified personal trainer. For further information call 604-420-7800 or go to