9 Gym Bag Must-Haves

A blue gym bag
It’s a new year! Are you looking to hit the gym to make some headway on resolutions? First things first, whether you are a beginner, or a two-a-day workout fanatic, you don’t want to show up empty handed at the gym. Worse, you don’t want to show up with your hands and pockets stuffed full of the things you don’t really need.

A high-end gym bag isn’t necessary (a backpack will work just fine), but you do need something to hold the essentials and make your life a little easier — no extra trips back and forth between home, work and the gym. And if you can leave it overnight in a locker at the gym, it’ll enable you to show up empty handed but still have everything you need to get you through a workout — and to get you out the door not smelling unpleasant.

So what are the nine most essential items for gym-goers? Let’s take a look inside a well-stocked bag.

1. Water

Being hydrated and staying hydrated is very important to your health and performance levels during workouts. Your body is made up of 70% water and it will not function at peak performance if you are not hydrated. Water also transports nutrients that are essential for energy and recovery, and removes waste and toxins from the body. Water is also essential to help regulate your body’s temperature. I recommend using a BPA-free refillable water bottle. It’ll save you a few bucks and it’s best for the environment.

2. Music

There’s no better motivator than a great playlist. Create a few new playlists every weekend and store them on your mp3 player. Cook up a hardcore mix, a cardio mix, an all-time-favorite mix, a cooldown mix, a stretch mix, and anything else you can think up. It’s a great way to add a little zip to your day and make your workouts fun. It’s also a great idea to download audio books or podcasts to listen to as you do cardio.

3. Footwear

Whether you’re going to the gym before or after work, or just getting out of the house for a quick workout, you don’t want to worry about showing up only to realize you’re still wearing work boots or wingtips. Keep a pair of workout shoes in your bag at all times and you won’t have to double back to your home to take a second whack at getting prepared — or decide to park yourself on the couch because it’s already too much hassle.

A good pair of cross-training shoes will suit your needs no matter what you do. Whether you decide to lift weights, run on the track, get on the stationary bike, or play a game of basketball or racquetball, cross-trainers won’t let you down.

You’ll also want to pack a pair of flip-flops so you won’t have to stand directly on the locker room floor when you shower or change clothes. Forget your flip-flops and you’re asking for a bad case of fungal infection in the form of athlete’s foot.

3. Journal

A workout journal is a great way to track your progress, and an ideal place to jot down goals, ideas and new exercises. You can also have a page of motivating quotes for days that you need a mini pep talk.

4.  Fuel

Many fitness clubs offer snacks, and even cafes, but if you do not have the proper fuel in tow, you might take in some extra calories and spend unnecessary money. Keep a large zip-lock bag full of gym snacks, such as nutrition bards, in case you need a quick pre or post-workout calorie infusion.

5. Toiletries

A great line of attack for the gym is hygiene, hygiene, hygiene. We all want to smell fresh and clean after a great workout, especially if we have somewhere important to go. Try a clear, natural deodorant to stay dry and battle unwanted odor and minimizes streaks on your clothes. Also, keep you gym bag stocked with mini bottles filled with your regular skincare, hair care, and body care products, if you plan on showering at the gym.

6. Antibacterial Wipes

When there’s no time to shower after a workout, blot the sweat with a clean towel and then do a mini wipe-down with the antibacterial wipes. Of course, you’ll want to follow up with a fresh coat of deodorant.

7. Plastic Bag

Tossing your used and sweaty clothes in your gym bag after a workout is not only unhygienic, but it can also cause a foul smell to develop in your bag. This is why it’s important to have a re-sealable plastic bag where you can place your workout clothes. Sealing the plastic bags will ensure that the odor is prevented from spreading. This is particularly important if you work out at the gym in the morning before heading to work.

8. Two Towels

It’s important to have two towels: one to use during your workouts on the machines and a clean one to wipe your face and body post-workout. If you sweat a fair amount during your workout, invest in a microfiber towel. It stays dry to the touch and helps draw sweat from the hair and skin to keep you comfortable.

9. Coconut Water

Coconut water is by far a top recommendation for a postworkout drink. It’s 100% natural, contains more electrolytes than most sports drinks, has almost 15 times more potassium than a banana, is high in fiber (2.6 g in 8 oz), helps to balance pH levels, is low in calories and is fat free. Enough said.

10 Skinny Secrets From Around The World

Flax seed in a measuring spoon

(BlackDoctor.org) – Are you an American diet pro? The kind who’s dabbled with pills, shakes, or who’s tried grapefruit, cabbage, and lemonade diets? Think you’ve tried every diet under the sun? Well, we’re about to take you on a virtual trip around the world to learn about the best diets tips from other cultures.

Try incorporating some of these international weight loss approaches into your own regimen.

1. Sip Some South African Rooibos Tea

Enjoyed throughout the country, rooibos tea is more robust than green tea, and because it’s naturally sweet, it needs no sugar. Ditching your daily Frappuccino for a cup of rooibos-Starbucks now sells it-could save you thousands of calories per month. ‘Tea-drinking cultures generally have lower rates of obesity,’ says Dr. Pescatore. ‘That may be from special compounds, such as catechins, that certain teas contain, or it may simply be that we often think we’re hungry when we’re really dehydrated.’

2. In Thailand They Spice It Up

Thai food is among the spiciest in the world. Hot peppers raise your metabolism, but the real benefit of food with a little zing is that it slows your eating, says James Hill, PhD, past president of the American Society for Nutrition. ‘Americans eat too fast,’ he says. ‘By the time your body signals that it’s full, you’ve overeaten. Eating slower is a good weight-loss strategy, and making food spicier is an easy way to do it.’

3. Rice & Beans By Brazil

All that shaking at Carnaval isn’t the only body-friendly habit in Rio; Brazilians stay slim by enjoying this traditional dish with just about every meal, says Sérgio Charlab, editor of Reader’s Digest Brazil. A study in the journal Obesity Research found that a diet consisting primarily of rice and beans lowers the risk of becoming overweight by about 14 percent when compared with typical Western fare. That’s because it’s lower in fat and higher in fiber, which is thought to stabilize blood sugar levels. It may sound counter-intuitive, but a diet full of beans equals a beach-ready body.

4. The Indonesian Fast

Islam, this country’s leading religion, encourages periodic fasting-no food or drink from dawn to dusk. Others in Indonesia practice mutih, which allows only water and white rice. Although experts don’t recommend fasting for weight control, fasting in moderation can break patterns of mindless eating, says Hill, of the American Society for Nutrition. ‘Most Americans never get hungry,’ he points out. ‘We’ve eaten the next meal before we’ve entirely digested the last one.’ No need for strict abstinence to get these psychological benefits-try just cutting your calories in half for a day.

5. Eat-At-Home Poles

Poles typically spend only 5 percent of their family budget on eating out. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics, the average American family spends 37 percent of its food dollars at restaurants and fast-food joints. To save money and pounds, start tracking how often you eat out and how much you spend each month, and gradually cut back. ‘People who don’t cook at home tend to eat less healthy food and be heavier than people who do,’ says journalist and activist Michael Pollan. ‘In fact, the collapse of cooking in a society tracks very closely its rise in obesity.’

6. Germans Never Skip Breakfast

An impressive 75 percent of Germans eat breakfast daily (compared with just 44 percent of Americans). They’re not grabbing Egg McMuffins either; they’re sitting down to fruit and whole-grain cereals and breads. Nutritionists have been advising people not to skip breakfast for years, but recent studies give a better picture of its importance. In one, British researchers discovered that if you haven’t eaten breakfast, your brain’s reward center will light up more vividly when you see a high-calorie food-making you more likely to indulge. Finally: a scientific explanation for that irresistible urge to pull into Dunkin’ Donuts.

7. Get Your Japanese Power Nap On

In this on-the-go country, many people take time for a daily 20- to 30-minute nap, says James Maas, PhD, a sleep researcher at Cornell University and the author of Power Sleep. There’s increasing evidence that chronic sleep deprivation raises the risk of weight gain. Maas blames two hormones: leptin, which helps the brain sense when you’re full, and ghrelin, which triggers hunger. The less sleep you get, the lower your leptin levels-and the higher your ghrelin. ‘Many people think they’re hungry when they’re actually sleepy,’ Maas says. ‘Instead of a snack, they need some shut-eye.’

8. Swap The Gas Pedal For The Bike Pedal In The Netherlands

Bikes (18 million) outnumber people (16.5 million) in the Netherlands. But unlike Americans-most of whose two-wheelers languish in basements and garages-54 percent of Dutch bike owners use them for daily activities, such as shopping and traveling to work. The average Dutchman pedals 541 miles per year. Traffic lights in parts of Amsterdam are even synchronized to bike speed. Bike-to-Work Day in the United States is Friday, May 21-try using your bike to commute that day or just for errands close to home. If you’re of average size and pedaling at a moderate pace, you can burn around 550 calories per hour.

9. Turmeric Craze

This spice, a key ingredient in curries, grows wild in Malaysian jungles. One of its chief components is a substance called curcumin, which may turn out to be a potent fat fighter. A recent Tufts University study found that mice fed a high-fat diet with small amounts of curcumin gained less weight than did other mice given similar but curcumin-free meals. Researchers think the ingredient suppresses the growth of fat tissue and increases fat-burning. Try some in your next stir-fry.

10. A Big ol’ Mexican Lunch

Instead of ingesting the bulk of the day’s calories in the evening, as most Americans do, Mexicans traditionally eat their biggest meal between 2 and 4 p.m. If you eat less at night, you’ll wake up hungrier and eat a bigger breakfast, which facilitates weight control. As a general fat-fighting rule, try to get the bulk of your daily calories at breakfast and lunch.

11. French Talk

The French excel at the leisurely family meal. On average, 92 percent of French families dine together nightly, compared with 28 percent of American families. ‘For the French, eating is the event of the day,’ says Fred Pescatore, MD, president of the International & American Associations of Clinical Nutritionists. ‘For us, it’s something we do before heading out to do something else.’ Lengthy meals actually encourage less eating, Dr.Pescatore says: Conversation slows down the fork and gives you time to realize you’re full.

12. Norwegian Sundays

It’s a deeply rooted Norwegian habit: On Sunday, everyone from toddlers to grandparents heads out to hike (in summer) or cross-country ski (in winter). Compare that with the typical American household, where the only Sunday expedition is from the fridge to the football game on TV. Start a Nordic tradition in your house. At halftime, shoo everyone outdoors for a walk around the neighborhood.