Catching Up On Sleep (Advice)

We can be exercising and eating well and pursuing a healthy lifestyle and simultaneously sabotaging ourselves without realizing it every single day if we are minimizing or neglecting a healthy sleep routine.

On September 26, 2016, Catherine Spannagel and Andrea Byrne gave an interesting talk at FitClub South to provide basic sleep advice, namely, how to fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and when to seek medical advice. There’s no one approach that will work for everyone, but keep reading and find something that can help you prioritize better sleep.

Falling Asleep More Easilyhealth2-691210
For those of us that have trouble falling asleep at night, Catherine and Andrea advise planning for bedtime earlier in your day. Getting an adequate amount of cardio, sunlight, and social activity not only benefit your mood throughout the day, but will also prepare your body and mind for a more restful sleep at the end of your day. Eliminating naps and managing stress throughout the day also result in falling asleep more quickly. Manage or finish any stressful projects you may have early in the day, rather than right before bed time, to prevent the stress from impacting your ability to wind down and fall asleep.

Later in the evening, continue to prioritize sleep by eating a healthy, nutrient rich dinner early in the evening. If you need a snack before bed, make it a light snack of complex carbohydrates, and eliminate substances that may disrupt your sleep, including caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. Begin to limit your liquid intake two hours before bed so you can sleep through the night. Tracking your food on a phone app or computer program may help you identify the nutrients missing from your diet that may assist in sleep.

If you find that after twenty minutes in bed you are unable to fall asleep easily, get out of bed and engage in a relaxing activity like journaling, drawing, or stretching. When you feel tired, return to your bed and try again to fall asleep.

Establish a Bedtime Routine
We know bedtime routines are essential for young children, but we often sacrifice our own bedtime routines for the sake of accomplishing more during the evening. Bedtime routines are as effective for adults as children, and should not be neglected. Turn off television, computer, and cell phone screens early in the evening before bed. Ensure that your bedroom is free from distractions, clutter, and light, and try a relaxing activity like a hot bath prior to bed. Relaxing before bed with a book, meditation, or gentle stretching signals your mind and body that it’s time to prepare for sleep.

Seek Medical Attention
If you’ve followed the advice above but find that you still have difficulty sleeping seven to nine hours each night, you should consult your medical professional. You should also consult your medical professional if you do not feel well rested after at least seven hours of sleep, snore loudly, wake up excessively throughout the night, or find that managing your emotions is difficult.

Your FitClub professionals are great resources to address any health or fitness related questions you may have! What’s your key to sleep success?


Fall Flavor for Healthy Eating

Don’t let the end of summer be the end of enjoying healthy produce. The shortening days and falling temperatures aren’t excuses to stop eating fresh fruits and vegetables. Fall has its own list of fresh produce to take advantage of in the kitchen and because it’s in season, you’ll also benefit at the cash register with lower prices.

There’s still time to take advantage of fall farmer’s markets and now local apple orchards and pumpkin patches are open and fun places to pick up healthy groceries.

  1. Apples and pears are abundant in Centrapink-lady-applel Illinois during this time of year. Apples and pears can be easily added to a smoothie, a salad, or eaten alone as a healthy and convenient weekday snack. Take advantage of the fall season and experiment with satisfying apple and pear recipes, just be sure to eat the skin to ensure that you are taking advantage of the 4 grams of fiber.
  2. Cauliflower is one of the most versatile fall vegetables; it lowers cholesterol and contains cancer fighting compounds. Add it to a salad for extra crunch, steam it as a side dish, or roast it with olive oil and enjoy as a main course.
  3. Pumpkin is not only in season, but local to the Central Illinois region. Add pumpkin to your diet to enjoy the boost of potassium, fiber, and Vitamin B. Experimenting with healthy pumpkin muffin recipes, pumpkin soups, and roasted pumpkin seeds may just satisfy your craving for pumpkin-spiced everything this fall and help you stay away from the unhealthy pumpkin treats!
  4. Sweet potatoes aren’t only for Thanksgiving, but should be enjoyed all fall as a source of Vitamin A and iron. You don’t need to add brown sugar and marshmallows to enjoy the savory fall taste in a convenient, easy to transport weekday lunch.
  5. Broccoli’s health benefits include Vitamin C, Vitamin A, folate and fiber and its versatile use makes it essential for any healthy grocery list. Add it to a fall soup, a fresh salad, or steam it as a side dish to enjoy the health benefits throughout the season.

Taking advantage of the fall flavors in your meal plan may free up time to check out a new class at FitClub this fall! If you spent the summer getting in shape, the changing season is a good time to change up your produce lineup and your workout plan. Variety in both produce and workout plan will not only keep you motivated and healthy all year long, but may also give your body new nutritional rewards and your muscles a new challenge.

If you have your own healthy fall recipes, share them in the comment section with your fellow FitClub members!

Sleep Yourself to Better Health

02-bad-habits-insomnia-sleep-too-earlyIf you’re interested in living a healthy lifestyle, the best place to start may be your bed. Sleep is much more than just an opportunity to rest after a busy day. According to Mayo Clinic, the hours that you spend in deep, restful sleep are the hours that your brain uses to build new pathways, repair cell damage and reset the central nervous system. Your immune system is also busy at work, building stronger forces allowing you to ward off bacterial infections and recover faster from any illnesses you do catch.

Beyond drowsiness and discomfort, a lack of sleep can lead to difficulty concentrating, reduced ability to learn new information and impaired ability to regulate your emotions and make well-informed decisions.

For some people, though, good quality sleep remains difficult. If you’re struggling with sleep, be sure to take advantage of FitClub’s upcoming presentation, “Sleep Hygiene.” The presentation is Monday, September 26, 2016 from 12:15PM to 1:00PM at FitClub South. FitClub’s own Andrea Byrne, RN was kind enough to share her advice, in advance, so you can prepare for the presentation by starting your own bedtime routine.

  1. Actively reduce stress. Stress is unavoidable; however, taking steps to moderate and combat your stress throughout the day will reap positive benefits at night when your body and mind need sleep. Taking a proactive approach to reducing stress may include exercise, meditation, yoga, or tai-chi, all of which are available at FitClub! Experiment with the techniques that feel right to you and don’t be afraid to try something new.
  2. Set yourself up for success. Plan your dinners and snacks so that you are neither hungry, nor uncomfortably full when you are ready for bed. You should also avoid nicotine, caffeine and alcohol in advance of bedtime. Both nicotine and caffeine have a stimulating effect on the body and alcohol may disrupt your sleep later at night.
  3. Be consistent. Consistency is central to a quality sleep ritual not only because it keeps your schedule on track, but because it reinforces the body’s natural sleep cycle and allows for better quality sleep. If your sleep is often sacrificed because of your busy schedule, start trying to incorporate a regular bed time and regular wake up time into part of your healthy lifestyle. After you’ve chosen a bedtime and wake up time that allow for at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep, prepare your body and mind by maintaining a consistent bedtime routine that tells your mind it’s time to unwind.
  4. Don’t fight it. If you find that you have trouble falling asleep, give yourself fifteen minutes. If, after fifteen minutes, you find that you cannot fall asleep, get out of bed and engage in a relaxing activity until you feel tired enough to fall asleep. Getting to sleep shouldn’t be stressful. If you find that falling asleep is stressful, you might try reading or listening to soothing music. Avoid turning to television or your phone, though, as both may keep you awake even longer.

Whether you’re new to healthy living or have been living healthy for a while, there’s always something we can learn about sleep and its importance in our day to day lives. Check back at the blog next week for a recap of the Sleep Hygiene presentation and share your own sleep tips and tricks in the comment section!

Keep Your Summer Fitness Routine In Shape For Fall

water-aerobicsAs the days get shorter and the temperatures start to fall, it’s the perfect time to transition your workout indoors. Keep the healthy lifestyle you developed this summer into the fall and winter months ahead at FitClub by taking advantage of your indoor options.

  1. Make Friends with the Treadmill. It can be hard to adjust to the treadmill when you may have been enjoying scenic outdoor runs all summer, but it is possible to make friends with the treadmill. The treadmill provides unique benefits that you can’t experience on an outdoor run. Having your distance and speed visible on the machine helps you work on your pace, increase your speed, or easily mix up your run with intervals of walking and running.

    The treadmill is also a safe alternative to running in the dark or on the ice and snow when winter approaches. The treadmill excuse-proofs your fall and winter running routine and you don’t have to worry about dressing in layers when you hit the treadmill during the     fall and winter months.

  1. Try CycleFit. You don’t have to abandon your cycling routine when the weather changes. In fact, as previously noted on this blog, FitClub’s CycleFit classes provide the perfect challenge to help you keep your healthy routine and improve your fitness.

    CycleFit classes are a great way to increase your cycling endurance and build up your leg muscles by climbing the imaginary hills during the fall and winter months.

  1. Hit the pool. One huge advantage of a FitClub membership is having access to an indoor pool all year. When the neighborhood pools close, keep your swimsuit out and build up endurance in the water by taking advantage of lap swims, aquatic fitness classes, and family swim time. Whether you’ve been swimming all summer or are finally ready to learn a new swimming skill, the pools at the West and South FitClub locations are open all year to help you reach your goals.

    Enrolling in swim lessons during the fall and winter months is a great way to ensure that you and your family have a head start when summer rolls back around.

  1. Try Something New. Fall is the perfect time to adjust your fitness routine. If you’ve spent the summer months exercising outdoors, now is a great time to check out a new class, consult with a personal trainer, or embark on a new challenge. FitClub’s diverse group exercise schedules provide convenient classes for every interest.

    Learn a new skill, challenge yourself in new ways, or have fun when you take a new class at FitClub this fall.

Don’t let your healthy summer routine end when the season changes. Head indoors and stay warm and active while you have fun at FitClub all fall!

Have ideas to stay fit during the fall? Share them with FitClub by leaving a comment below.

The Magic of Water

We know water is important for good health and weight loss. Most of us, though, struggle with drinking enough water and the guidelines can be confusing. Here’s the why, what, and how that you need to know about water to make hitting your personal guidelines easier.

There are many trendy diet plans out there, but all have one thing in common. Water.

Water makes up more than fifty percent of a person’s body weight (and according to Culligan your brain is 80% water!) and is vital for removing toxins from the body and moving nutrients to cells. While water may not cause weight loss, it is calorie free, and may help to fill you up before and during meals. Staying adequately hydrated also ensures that you’ll be able to make the most of each workout at FitClub, no matter what your fitness goals may be!

Drinking enough water allows you to maintain consistent hydration. Even minor dehydration decreases energy levels and may cause discomfort.   Even before you feel thirsty, your body may experience symptoms of dehydration, including fatigue, headaches, and lack of focus.

The standard “8 glasses of water” guideline may not fit everyone. Lifestyle, temperature and humidity levels, and duration and intensity of exercise may increase your water needs above the standard recommendations.

The easiest way to calculate your basic water needs is to divide your body weight by half and that is the number of ounces of water you need each day. If you’re exercising, plan to add to that number. According to Mayo Clinic, for exercise lasting less than an hour, add an additional 1.5 to 2 cups of water. Particularly intense workouts lasting more than one hour may require a sports drink containing electrolytes.

While water should be your primary source of hydration, water-dense fruits and vegetables can also be counted when you’re counting ounces. Tea and sugar free or unsweetened fruit juices also provide healthy sources of water. While there is water in coffee and other caffeinated beverages, caffeine actually impedes the delivery of water and nutrients to cells, so it shouldn’t be counted in your daily water intake tracking.

Carrying a reusable water bottle during your day makes keeping track of ounces easy. Throw in a slice of lemon, a slice of cucumber, or a sprig of mint if you need to add flavor. Keep track of the ounces you drink each day in a notepad or an app on your phone and aim to hit the recommendations specific for you.

Always have water available while you workout or take a group exercise class at FitClub, and refill as necessary at the water fountains. Be sure to take time for a water break if you experience any discomfort while exercising.

What helps you stay hydrated? Share your tips with your fellow FitClub members and stay hydrated!

HIIT Workouts That Pack a Punch


Whether you’re daily elliptical routine is feeling a little stale or you’re looking for a way to increase your fitness, it might be time to add HIIT to your workout regimen.

What is HIIT?
HIIT, or high intensity interval training, combines short bursts of intense intervals with shorter periods of rest. During the intense intervals, you push your body to its limits by increasing the speed of your workout past the point of comfort. During the rest, slip back to a comfortable walk, jog, or pace that allows your body to quickly recover from the interval. Then repeat.

Why does HIIT work?
Requiring your body to perform intense intervals demands more of your cardiovascular system, and increases that system’s endurance. According to Women’s Health, HIIT not only burns calories while you’re working out, but because it demands that your body use more oxygen than steady-state cardio, your body continues to burn calories after your workout ends.

Beyond the complicated science of HIIT, including studies showing benefits to both anaerobic and aerobic body systems, why HIIT works may be far simpler. HIIT spices up the typical indoor cardio workout, making the minutes move more quickly. Instead of letting your mind wander to what’s for dinner and what you need to accomplish at work, your mind stays engaged, watching the intervals fly by and forcing your body to adjust from intense intervals to rest intervals. Watching the clock for ten minutes turns into watching the clock for thirty seconds.

HIIT also eliminates the excuse that you just don’t have time for a workout. Even on days when you can’t find an hour to get in a workout, we can all slip in to FitClub for 10 minutes. A 10 minute HIIT workout provides lasting effects throughout the day and allows you to maintain a constant workout regimen even on days you’re short of time.

How to Make HIIT Work for You.

Just like any training plan, start slowly when incorporating HIIT into your training. You can start with 30 seconds of activity, followed by thirty seconds of rest, reducing the amount of rest as your body adapts to the new training. If that seems too daunting, experiment with the ratio until you find a comfortable, but challenging, starting place.

Now that summer days are winding down, this is a good time to incorporate HIIT into your treadmill or stationary cycling sessions. Mix up a treadmill run or indoor bike ride with thirty seconds of all out sprints, followed by thirty seconds of slower jogging, cycling, or walking.  HIIT can be used on any cardio machine you enjoy. Try it on the elliptical, treadmill, bikes, and rowing machine.

Don’t forget to track your progress. One advantage of HIIT is how quickly it increases your fitness and endurance. Make a note of your starting place and track your progress, which will make it easier to power through those intense intervals on challenging days.

Share your HIIT experiences with your FitClub friends. Have you tried it? What works for you?

FitClub also offers HIIT classes. Have a group exercise instructor lead your next HIIT workout. Check out the group exercise land schedules for times.

Learn more about what to expect in a HIIT class contact Sabrina,

Things You Need to Know About Zumba

If you’ve ever heard the music pounding while walking through FitClub and wondered what Zumba is really all about, you’re not alone. I had, too. I have no dance experience, but decided the Zumba classes looked fun and exciting and I needed to know more. Now that I’ve tried Zumba, I’m prepared to tell you everything you need to know about FitClub’s sixty minute dance party Zumba class.zumba

  1. Zumba is a great cardio workout for all body types, ages, and levels of dance experience. My first impression upon walking into the aerobic studio at FitClub was being surprised that in one Zumba class on one Tuesday night, there were people of all ages, all body types, and all levels of dance experience. At the end of sixty minutes we were all still having fun, dripping in sweat, and surprised that the hour had already passed.
  2. Leave your self-consciousness at the door. This is the one place where it is better to not take yourself too seriously. We all make mistakes, miss a step, or sometimes just don’t get the choreography for a song at all. That’s okay. Keep moving, have fun, and be able to laugh at yourself. Everyone is really just focusing on the beat of the music and their own feet and no one is judging you.
  3. You cannot worry while you’re doing Zumba. The songs move quickly and the choreography requires your attention. It is impossible to worry about work or your personal life when your mind is busy following the instructions. Just engaging your body in a fun and healthy way allows the mind to take a rest.
  4. You will get a great workout. Just because Zumba is an hour long, fun, dance party doesn’t minimize its cardio benefits. In sixty minutes, I took more than 5,000 steps and burned more than 500 calories. Caloric burn is different for everyone, but that is more calories than I burn in a 3 mile run. When the hour was up, we were all dripping with sweat, but all of us had a great time. Zumba proves that a great workout doesn’t have to be a chore.
  5. You will want to come back. I had never tried Zumba, but will definitely be coming back. Spending an hour having fun, clearing my mind, and burning a ton of calories left me wondering why I had never tried Zumba before and eager to check out the FitClub class schedules to see when I could try it again. Next time, I hope to be a little better at the choreography, but I know for sure I’ll have a great time.

Whether you’re new to fitness or looking for a fresh way to change up your healthy regimen, try Zumba. Leave your worries and self-consciousness at the door and prepare to have more fun than you thought you could have working out!

What tips do you have for someone curious about Zumba? Leave a comment and educate your fellow FitClub members!