When it comes to packing a bag for the gym, I rarely forget essentials like my iPod and shoes. But I have been known to forget essentials for after the workout. Here is my tried-and-true checklist of three things that you need to throw in your gym bag to get you through your post-workout plans.
May you use it to avoid your own catastrophes.
1. A snack
A few dietitians have told me to have a post-workout snack within half an hour of exercising because it helps recovery. Generally, I abide by this advice. When I don’t, I range from just being hangry — a cross between hungry and angry, and it’s not pretty — to being unconscious.
Let me preface this by saying: what happened was many years ago, before I knew better. When I was living in Toronto, my Saturday morning routine included breakfast, a workout and then chicken curry roti at Island Foods. One morning, I ran errands after my workout and arrived at the restaurant feeling weak and hangry. I stood in line, put my order in and took a seat in the crowded room. And then, it happened: I fainted, hitting the table on my way down. (I like to think it was graceful.) Lesson learned.
Fainting is an extreme example and it hasn’t happened since, but here’s the moral of the story: eat your roti within 30 minutes of exercising. Or any post-workout snack with some carbohydrate and protein, because, even if you feel like you don’t need it, the food will help your body recover from the exercise. Lately, my go-to is chocolate milk. Studies say that it’s great for helping to replenish your muscles.
This is self-explanatory, no? However. Let’s use a hypothetical situation, just to be sure.
Let’s assume you exercise in the morning, before work. You pack your gym bag the night before. You also pack a bag filled with things you need to get ready at the gym. In this bag you place your carefully folded outfit, heels, a hair straightener. Even perfume. Yet, somehow, you forget about a bra and underwear. (These are what they call “foundation garments,” I believe.)
The next morning in the change room, staring into your bags and rifling through their contents, you face reality. Yes, you are screwed. You might even swear a little. And, before it’s even begun, your day feels disastrous. You evaluate your options — head home to grab these things and be late, or go undergarment-less and vow to wear your scarf wrapped around your shoulders and chest until stores open at 10 a.m. Neither option is attractive. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, you go with the latter. You are not late — bravo! — but, for two and a half hours, you feel like you’re living a continuous walk of shame. Precisely at 10 a.m., you head to Intimately Yours in Bankers Hall, where the owner outfits you with a new bra and underwear. Now, you can get on with your day. Hypothetically speaking.
3. Your makeup bag
Say what you want, but if you’re going to be with others after you exercise — at work, a family dinner or a restaurant filled with people who may witness you passing out — you’ll likely want to look your best. For me, that means using some basics, like blush, mascara and lip gloss. The many times I’ve forgotten my makeup bag, I’ve spent the day feeling like a nasty “before” picture.
Alright friends. I think that covers it. I hope your gym bags are filled with snacks, undergarments and makeup bags. And maybe a scarf, just in case.