We are excited to announce that FitClub will now have a regular blog. This will be a great place for you to visit to keep up with what is new in fitness and wellness. Thanks for visiting.
Physical fitness and a healthy lifestyle are lifelong goals that can be temporarily derailed when you have an injury that keeps you away from your active life. Whether you’re sidelined for a few days or a few months, you don’t have to stop pursuing your health goals while you take the time away that your body needs to recover.
- Mentally prepare yourself for the recovery. While your body rests and repairs, your mental health may also need your attention. You may find that you are envious of your healthy friends that are able to maintain a consistent workout schedule. You may even feel fearful that you will lose muscle mass or gain weight. Experiencing these feelings while you take the time to recover is not unusual. Instead of giving into the unwanted emotions, you can use this time to learn to meditate or find ways that you can stay healthy without vigorous workouts. FitClub has meditation classes that will help you strengthen your mental fitness and prevent an unhealthy mindset from facilitating a speedy physical recovery.
- Clean up your diet. While your body recovers, you can take advantage of more time at home to prepare healthier meals and fuel your body, enabling a quicker, more successful physical recovery. This is also an excellent way to continue your healthy lifestyle and ward off unwanted weight gain while you’re unable to work out. Not being able to work out is not a pass to eat unhealthy treats. A healthy lifestyle requires a long-term, balanced and multi-faceted approach. When one area suffers, you need to work harder in the areas where you currently have control.
- Do what you can. If your physical recovery allows you to do some, but not all exercise, try something new and take advantage of what you can accomplish. If strenuous strength training is on hold, try a FitClub yoga class or recover aching muscles in the pool. Before you hit the couch for the long-term, talk to your medical providers about what exercises you might be able to do while you recuperate. You might find that a different form of exercise might accelerate healing while also helping you preserve your physical fitness.
- Expand your hobbies. Exercise and living a healthy lifestyle are the most rewarding hobbies, but recovery can be a time of expanding your lifestyle to include a balanced approach to better health. Allow yourself time to catch up on books that you’ve wanted to read or any other number of hobbies that will keep you from feeling depressed or filling up your time with unhealthy snacks.
Respect your limits. It can be tempting to push yourself to get back to working out more quickly than your body can handle. Taking the time for a full recovery will benefit you in the long run and ensure that when you are able to come back, it will be permanent and at full strength.
Springfield has great road races if your spring goal is to start running. Getting started now will ensure that before the end of spring, you’re ready to lace up and find your first finish line. If you’re new to running, though, you might be surprised to find that you need to do more than just run. Good news! FitClub has everything you need to get in great shape for your first race.
- Cross-train. Running takes a serious toll on your joints, but you still need to stay active. The best cross-training for runners is an effective cardio workout that requires less impact on your joints. It’s also a good idea to take a mental break from running so you don’t burn out before race day. Swimming, elliptical workouts, CycleFit or Zumba are all highly effective cross-training workouts for runners, available at FitClub.
- Stretch and recover. Running longer or faster than you have before can also make your muscles sore. To accomplish all the miles on your training plan, you have to be able to listen to your body and recover effectively. Yoga is particularly valuable for runners because it not only stretches and lengthens sore, overused muscles, but it also helps you zero in on the mind body connection that can help you listen to your body and instinctively know what you need to repair yourself. Grab a mat and let the FitClub Yoga instructors walk you through the poses, correct your posture, and stretch muscles you didn’t even know were bothering you.
- Weight training. Running is great cardiovascular exercise, but you can’t reach all of your fitness goals by running alone. Your body still needs strength training to correct muscle imbalances and to strengthen and tone muscles. If you’re new to running, give your legs and hips the strength they need to push you to the finish line and incorporate upper body workouts to balance your entire body. Not sure how to incorporate weight training into your running plan? Hiring a personal trainer is the best way to maximize your efforts and stay safe with proper form and technique. Let your FitClub trainer know that you are training for a race so he or she can help you reach your running goals while you get stronger.
- At some point in your training plan you are going to feel sore and your legs are going to feel heavy. Massage is a great recovery option for all athletes because it promotes a healthier blood flow and relaxation for overworked muscles. It can also be a great reward for maintaining a consistent training plan and pushing yourself through hard workouts. Stop by the front desk of FitClub West and schedule a massage to help you recover, unwind, and get ready to run harder and longer.
- Run faster. To get faster, you need to practice running faster. Treadmills are the best place to manage your speed and run faster intervals than you might outside. On the treadmill you can set your speed more precisely, making it easy to see progress from day to day. When it’s time to run faster, grab a treadmill at FitClub and bump the speed up just a little each workout to make sure your goals are reasonable and within reach.
If you love to sleep and you want to lose weight, you’re in luck. Sleep may be the magic behind being in the best shape of your life. Consistent, high quality sleep allows you to make better decisions throughout the day (i.e. a banana over the candy bar you crave when you’re tired) and perform at your personal best at FitClub every day. Sleeping too much, too little, or not well enough, though, can lead you down a junk food covered path and make you more likely to skip your workout.
There are easy, achievable ways you can get the most out of your slumber.
- Don’t eat before bed. Remember when the threat of going to bed hungry for not finishing the dinner your parents prepared was a punishment? Now, as healthy adults we need to look at it as the key to principled, consistent sleep. Even if you’ve overeaten during the day, closing your home kitchen immediately after dinner and allowing yourself to fast while you sleep has been linked to weight loss. Adding protein and vegetables to an earlier dinner will help you make it through an eight-hour slumber without a bedtime snack.
- Keep your bedroom dark. A completely dark environment causes your body to produce the hormone melatonin. Melatonin makes you feel sleepy and allows you to fall asleep faster, but it also helps your body burn calories. Close your curtains or invest in blackout curtains, turn digital clocks around, and don’t fall asleep with the television glowing for a better, more efficient sleep.
- Power down electronics. For an even healthier dose of melatonin, power down your electrical devices (yes, even your phones) an hour or more before you lay down. Not only does the light from the electronics inhibit your body’s production of melatonin, the news scroll you’re reading may cause you unwanted stress that will make sleep difficult or more restless. Give yourself time to unwind from your day with an old-fashioned book, a bath, or a short meditation to put your body and mind in sleep-mode.
- Be consistent. Part of a healthy lifestyle is establishing consistent, healthy habits. If you’ve been exercising regularly, you know that building a habit takes time and makes it easier for you to stay committed to your workout when it’s part of your day. The same is true for your bedtime. Weekends, holidays, and vacations count, too. Committing to a bedtime that feels right for your lifestyle will make it easier to fall asleep and wake up feeling refreshed and alert and ready to make it to a morning FitClub group exercise class.
- Exercise early. Exercising too closely to your bedtime may cause you more difficulty in falling asleep as quickly as you’d like. Exercising in the morning or afternoon hours allows your body temperature to return to normal before bedtime and eliminates the stress of the day before you’re ready to unwind before bed. Bonus: Consistently making time for high quality sleep also allows you to wake up earlier and with more energy for a morning workout!
What sleep tricks do you use to complement your healthy goals?
It’s not uncommon for a hard day at work or a difficult conversation with a loved one to drive you to the ice cream, candy bowl, or drive through. Before you give in to stress eating again, it’s important to know why this is a common phenomenon and how to better direct your negative emotions.
Why it happens?
Stress eating is not an indication that you lack will power or self discipline, but rather a biochemical response that happens in your body when you feel stressed. Stress releases the chemical cortisol into our bodies and makes us feel hunger. Not only does stress make you feel hungry when you don’t need to eat, but it makes you crave high-carb, high-fat junk foods that release dopamine into the body making you feel good. The more often you give in and reach for junk when you’re stressed, the more the reaction becomes a habit and the harder it is to resist.
How can you stop the cycle?
Now that you know that it’s a biochemical response to stress, you can unlearn stress eating and make healthier decisions when you feel overwhelmed or stressed.
- Recognize the stress. The problem in that moment isn’t that you want junk food, it’s really the root of stress. Identifying why you feel stressed is the first step in preventing an unhealthy binge that will set back your healthy lifestyle. Journal, reflect, meditate, or workout to relieve the underlying stress before you consume a bag of french fries. Experimenting with stress-relief techniques can help you find what works best for you. If you need cardio, strength training, or yoga, try going to FitClub next time you feel stressed and before you give in and go straight to food.
- Prepare healthy foods. When stress makes you feel hungry, the best response is to eat a healthy snack and move forward. If you make healthy foods as easy and handy as vending machines make junk food, you can ward off the cortisol-induced hunger and save yourself hundreds of calories. Start by cleaning and cutting fresh vegetables and fruit and storing the foods at your home or workplace. Having ready-to-eat, healthy options gives you a leg up on ravenous stress hunger. You can also get ahead of week night stress that leaves you feeling short on time by taking the time on weekends to prepare healthy meals in advance. Bake your chicken, boil your eggs, and have salads ready to go when you walk in the door. By making healthy food convenient, you eliminate the feeling that you don’t have time to prepare healthy foods.
- When a craving for junk food strikes during a stressful day, make a point to wait it out and see if you’re still hungry when the crisis passes. Snap decisions may be the reason that you opt for junk food when the stress is at its peak. Commit to waiting on the junk food until after you’ve worked out and identified your stressor. If you can wait even just a few minutes, you’ll likely find that you feel better prepared to not only deal with the stressor, but also to make a healthy meal or snack a priority.
It’s been called the most important meal of the day, but for most of us it’s a quick, convenient bite before we rush out the door to start our days. It can hardly be called a meal if your breakfast is lacking in nutrients and designed to just delay the hunger from setting in. Fortunately, FitClub has five easy ways everyone can build a better breakfast and see faster, healthier results.
- Add veggies. While vegetables are often overlooked when we think about breakfast, some vegetables are quick, convenient, and nutrient-packed options that can give you energy to start your day. A handful of spinach can be easily added to a protein smoothie or scrambled eggs without any additional time or effort. Vegetables can also be added to omelets or toast (i.e. avocado toast) to start your day with vitamins and nutrients that will keep you full until lunch.
- Drink up. Many of us wake up already dehydrated, especially during the dry winter months. Starting your day with a glass of water not only rehydrates your body, but can leave you feeling instantly more energized. A glass of water either prior to or with your breakfast, also helps you combat constipation ensuring a far better start to your workday.
- Add fruit. Adding a serving of fruit to your breakfast sets you up for success all day. Current nutrition guidelines suggest that you need five servings of fruit each day for a healthy diet. Starting your morning with a banana or fresh fruit of your choice is a good way to make sure you get through your five servings. Fruit alone might not be enough to fill you up. Try adding low-fat Greek yogurt to your fruit to fill you up and power through the morning hours without feeling hungry too early.
- Plan ahead. If mornings are a frazzled time for you or your family, try spending just a couple of minutes in the evenings planning next morning’s breakfast. There are many options that you can prepare or lay out ahead of time to save yourself precious minutes before your workday begins. Vegetables and fruit can be washed and cut and smoothies can even be made up and kept in the freezer overnight for easy blending in the morning hours. With only minimal prep, your healthy breakfast can be as efficient as the nutrient-free packaged foods you can find at the grocery store.
- Know your portion sizes. No matter how hungry you might be when you wake up, nothing kills your plans for the day like overeating at breakfast. Adding vegetables and fruit to your breakfast plate is a good way to fill up on natural energy sources and fiber and avoid the overindulgence in meat or grease at breakfast. A heavy, grease-laden or frozen carbohydrate bomb will only leave you feeling more sluggish and in need of a mid-morning nap.
Do you have a go-to power breakfast you rely on to keep you full, energized and away from the vending machines?
Do you find that you always seem to be tired, even though you’re sleeping eight hours, exercising, and eating a healthy diet? You may be surprised to discover four causes of tiredness that you can start changing now.
- You’re not eating enough. If you’ve been watching calories and trying to lose weight, you may not be eating enough calories or the right calories to power through your day. Starting your day with a sugary pastry or skipping breakfast altogether may be setting you up for failure right out of bed. Instead, make breakfast your most important meal of the day and set yourself up for all day energy by adding protein and complex carbohydrates to your breakfast plate. Try an egg with a piece of whole wheat toast to see whether your afternoon blood sugar crash is why you feel tired too often.
- You’re eating too much of the wrong foods. Maintaining a healthy diet is a constant balancing act of ensuring that you’re eating enough calories to sustain your day to day activities and not an excess of empty, nutrient-free calories. Too much caffeine, fat, or sugar all cause blood sugar spikes, stomach pain, and a loss of energy. If this sounds like it may be the root of your problem, start cutting back each day on nutrient-free junk food, sugary beverages, and caffeine and see if your quality of sleep and energy levels begin to improve.
- Your workout is too late. While any exercise is better than no exercise, if you generally hit FitClub too close to bedtime, you may be costing yourself higher quality sleep. If it works for your schedule, try working out earlier in the evening or first thing in the morning to see if that helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Exercise raises the body’s temperature and heart rate, and for some people, that may inhibit sleep. Making just small adjustments in your daily schedule might be an easy fix.
- You sleep too much. It seems counterintuitive, but routinely getting more sleep than your body needs may actually lower your energy levels, according to research done by Harvard University. While the solution may require experimentation to find what’s right for you, this can be easily fixed and solve your problem. You need to find out how many hours of sleep are best for you body. For most people, that number is seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Then, you have to stick with it. Even brief variations from your optimal sleep schedule like vacations and weekends can throw your body’s natural ability to achieve quality sleep into flux.
The dark days of winter can take their toll on everyone, leading us all to feel a mix of cabin fever and fatigue. If you feel it happening to you, make time for yourself at FitClub and then try incorporating one of the solutions above to see if you can even out your energy levels for your best self. If fatigue continues to be a problem or if it keeps you from your day to day tasks or activities you enjoy, talk to your doctor to make sure you don’t have a medical condition that is interfering with your energy or sleep.
For many people, reducing belly fat is more than just a goal for swimsuit season, but also a significant health goal that will reduce the potential for dangerous medical conditions like heart disease or diabetes. Even though shrinking your belly fat can be frustrating and difficult, it’s not impossible.
A quick internet search for ways to reduce belly fat provided more than four million results—a telling sign that this is a major concern for too many people. If you’ve been trying to shrink your belly fat without success, try one of FitClub’s tips below.
- Break up with sugar. It’s the most common fitness and health advice available today, but that’s because there are scientifically proven reasons to begin breaking up with sugar. Your liver can only process a small amount of sugar, with the remaining sugar being turned directly into fat. The sugar that your body stores as fat accumulates in the belly leading to health conditions and insulin resistance. Remember, too, that sugar doesn’t only hide in the packaged foods we buy at the grocery store, but also in sweetened beverages. If you’re already tracking calories, keep an eye on how much sugar you eat and drink everyday and begin to try to reduce that number each day. Eliminating sugar is difficult, but every small step you take to reduce the amount of sugar you consume is worthwhile.
- Move more. Belly fat isn’t reduced by doing endless crunches or sit ups, but it is reduced by adding more cardiovascular training to your workout regimen. Fortunately, everything you could ever need to add more cardio to your training is available at FitClub. Not sure where to get started or concerned that you might not be pushing yourself hard enough to see results? Try a group exercise class to experience different forms of cardiovascular exercise and push yourself in the group atmosphere.
- Add more protein to your plate. Protein has a unique effect in determining our body’s response to insulin and can counteract insulin’s ability to store unused energy as belly fat. If you find it difficult to add protein to your daily diet, try adding a scoop of protein powder to your favorite smoothie or a bowl of oatmeal. It’s convenient, easy and effective.
- Reduce stress. Stress is a natural, recurring part of life. It can also make us pack on pounds of belly fat via the stress hormone, cortisol, if not properly dealt with. If worry and stress are dominant forces in your life, try adding yoga or meditation to your schedule. FitClub has both yoga and meditation available in the group exercise class schedule if you’re looking for a way to get started in a supportive atmosphere.
The battle for good health begins and ends in the belly. From the food we take in to the calories we burn, the center of our bodies is truly the center of the health universe. If you’re struggling with belly fat, you are not alone. By following the advice above and staying consistent, we can make our bellies, and ourselves, healthier everyday.