Both your mother and your doctor have probably told you at some point that you need to eat more vegetables. As summer winds down, how can you ensure that you are eating enough vegetables without eating the same boring desk salad every day for lunch? FitClub has you covered with a list of clever ways to eat more vegetables every day. Think of it has hiding the broccoli you hated as a child, but still managing to reap the benefits!
If you need actual science to support the theory that you need to eat more vegetables, it’s there. Vegetables are full of the vitamins and antioxidants that you need to achieve your best health. According to researchers at Harvard University, vegetables also may prevent cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer, aid in digestion, and naturally lower your blood sugar.
Vegetables are also loaded with fiber and take longer for your stomach to digest, meaning that you get to savor that “I’m full” feeling without trying to kill the hunger with junk food an hour after you eat. Naturally low in calories, vegetables are easily the best bang for your calorie buck when you’re trying to improve your health and lose a few pounds.
How to do it?
- No one said you had to eat the same lettuce every day. If you’re tired of your standard romaine lettuce based salad, think outside the bag and try adding kale, spinach, or arugula as the base of your salad. The different types of lettuce will add different texture and taste and help you achieve a more balanced blend of vitamins and nutrients. Adding cabbage as the base of your salad not only gives you more crunch with each bite, but cabbage is known as a “mega-detoxifier”. Add a healthy portion of lean protein to make your salad feel more like meal!
- Try something new. If you normally buy the same vegetables every time you’re at the grocery store, try to expand your palate and options by choosing something new each time you go. Even if you don’t know how to prepare a less common vegetable, the internet can be a great resource for diving into an obscure recipe. Farmers markets are also a great place to try a new vegetable and you can ask right at the stand the best way to prepare your new find.
- Sneak your veggies into your smoothies. If you love the taste of a fruit smoothie, try adding a handful of spinach to your next fruity blend. Adding spinach to a fruit smoothie won’t change the sweet taste of the fruit and you will still get the wide array of vitamins and minerals found in spinach. Try a cup of almond milk, one sweet apple, a handful of spinach and a dash of cinnamon. You’ll barely taste the spinach over the sweetness of the apple.
- Get creative in the kitchen. Making your own sauce for pasta or another family favorite? Add vegetables whenever you have the chance. Adding onions, green peppers, jalapeños, or spinach to a pasta sauce adds flavor and healthy benefits without the boredom that comes from eating the same salad every day. Zucchini can even be added to baked chocolate desserts, giving you the full benefit of another helping of vegetables while you enjoy a treat.
The more you seek to add vegetables to every meal, the more creative you might find yourself becoming in the kitchen. Share your best advice for sneaking in another helping of vegetables in the comment section!
With every google search, magazine, or commercial, it seems that we’re receiving conflicting information about what constitutes a healthy diet. Fad diets everywhere try to convince us that eating a certain eccentric way, at a particular time of day, under just the right conditions, is the optimal path to better health. Somedays it seems you need a Master’s Degree in Nutrition just to finish your grocery shopping. FitClub has sorted out the science and put together the only dietary recommendations you need to achieve your best health.
- Fat isn’t a bad word. Your body actually needs fat to survive. Foods labeled “low fat” though, aren’t healthier than their full-fat counterparts. Manufacturers remove fat, slap the “low-fat” label on the food and market it as a healthy substitute. To duplicate the flavor of the full-fat alternative, though, manufacturers add sugar, leading to more calories and less of the healthy fat your body actually needs.
- Not all calories are created equally. If you eat more calories than you burn, your body will store the extra calories as body fat. If you eat fewer calories than your body burns, you will lose weight. Foods and beverages that contain calories but no nutrients (i.e. soda, fruit drinks, and junk food) don’t give your body the nutrients it needs to operate at its best, leaving you craving more food without any benefit from the calories you’ve already consumed.
- Eat more whole foods. “Whole foods” are natural, unprocessed, real foods; i.e. fruits, vegetables and lean meats. Whole foods are less likely to have a label or more than one ingredient. If the food looks like it was produced in a factory or comes in a box, it is not likely whole food. A diet that consists of 80-90% whole foods can eliminate all of the guesswork. You’re likely to be eating all of the nutrients your body needs simply by eating a diet primarily consisting of whole food.
- Eat nutrient-dense foods that make you feel full. Fiber is the magic nutrient that leaves us feeling full after a meal. A diet high in fiber keeps you regular, fills you up, and keeps you away from junk calories. Adding vegetables, beans and nuts to your diet in appropriate portions rescues you from hunger and an impulse trip to the vending machine.
- Drink more water. The only beverage your body needs is water. Skipping the sodas, fruit juices, flavored drinks, and miracle fad drink of the week is an easy way to eliminate unwanted processed ingredients, added sugar, and empty calories from your diet.
Nutrition information should be common sense, but heavy marketing campaigns, trends, and social media have overcomplicated the issue. Listen to your body, eat more real food, and skip anything that comes in a box, drive through, or vending machine, for a healthier diet.
Whether you’re tied to your smart phone because of work or you just like feeling connected, that constant attachment to the world may leave your internal battery drained. The constant buzz of incoming messages, notifications, and breaking news at our fingertips can have a negative impact on our mental health unless we learn to take breaks and disconnect once and a while.
The Impact of Being Connected
Experts estimate that adults check their smart phones 150 times each day, or roughly once every six minutes, and send an average of 110 text messages each day. The constant stream of technology, availability, and feeling of connection interrupts our body’s natural process of shutting down the nervous system to reboot. Instead of a break, our body is in constant fight-or-flight mode anticipating the next headline, notification, or text message.
Every time we bend over our screens, we are also disconnecting from person to person contact, which is necessary for optimal mental health. The lack of person-to-person contact is making our lives lonelier and leaving us more prone to anxiety and depression. According to researchers at San Diego State University, the generation born after 1995 that has never known life without a smart phone reports the highest levels of anxiety and depression. Not only are we giving up real life connections, but social media can have toxic effects on our mental health if left unchecked.
How to Unplug
- Consider making certain areas of your life or home phone-free zones. Your next trip to FitClub is the perfect time to unplug. Leave your phone behind and consider that time your phone-free time to unplug and unleash the endorphins you need for better mental and physical health. While at home with your family, designate the dinner table a phone-free zone and spend that time interacting with your family or friends.
- Turn your phone off an hour before you go to bed. Michigan State professor, Russell E. Johnson, believes that the light emitted from smartphones interrupts the body’s natural production of the hormone melatonin, which helps us fall asleep. Instead of scrolling through your favorite app while you lay in bed, turn your phone off an hour before bedtime and read a book, take a bath, or talk to a family member or friend.
- Go outside and enjoy nature. Every minute that we spend on our smartphones is likely done while we are sitting indoors. Instead of spending your time mindlessly surfing the latest breaking news story, head outside for fresh air. You can also use this time to connect with your family, friends, or pets that are likely anxious to get outdoors for a walk.
- Write it out. If you want to remember an important event, moment, or obligation, take the time to write it out with a pen and paper. Smartphones are great for allowing us to access a camera any time, but don’t miss out on the experience by relying on your phone to capture your memories. The art of writing out what you experienced helps cement it in your own memory, rather than just your phone’s memory.
Learning to disconnect and unplug every day might suddenly seem foreign at first, but the advantages will improve your mental and physical health. Try unplugging for a week and let us know how your life changed!
Do you draw your fitness motivation from yourself or from others? While it might seem that any motivation is sufficient, research suggests that for best, long term success, internal motivation is better than external motivation.
What’s the difference?
If you find yourself wanting to get fit and healthy for your family, a spouse, a cause, or because a medical professional told you that you needed to, you’re motivations are external. By contrast, internal motivations occur when you want to make a healthy change for yourself. While family and peer support can help to hold you accountable to your path and make fitting in an exercise class easier, ultimately, the motivation that will stick with you long term is internal motivation.
With internal motivation, you don’t have to rely on anyone else maintaining the drive to push towards a healthy lifestyle. You know that you control the outcome that you choose through the foods you eat and the fitness habits you cultivate. The prospect of knowing that you’re doing something for yourself can be a powerful motivator. It also helps to eliminate the excuses that other people in your life might offer. External motivation often falls victim to you really craving the approval of others, rather than the approval of yourself. Approval can be a moving target and not, necessarily, a motivator that you can carry with you for a lifetime of better of health.
How can you make internal motivation work for you?
The unfortunate reality is that internal motivation is hard. It’s not easy to rely on yourself alone for motivation day to day. FitClub has three steps to help you find your own motivation.
- Focus on what’s happening inside your body instead of what’s happening on the outside of your body. It’s natural to start an exercise routine because you want to improve your appearance or lose weight. Instead of letting that be your focus, try to focus on what’s happening inside your body. Do you have more energy? Do your muscles feel stronger? Are you breathing, sleeping and moving with ease throughout the day? Those motivating rewards are entirely internal. No one else can feel those positive benefits for you. When you design your exercise routine to increase those feelings of strength and longevity you know you are doing it for yourself.
- Eliminate exercises you hate. If you find yourself trying to please other people, you might also find yourself enduring exercises or routines that don’t feel right to you. When you’re exercising purely for yourself, you get to choose. Instead of making exercise feel like a chore, finding the exercises that you look forward to or that feel good to your body can make exercise the best part of your day. FitClub has too many options for you to ever feel stuck doing an exercise you hate no matter how much your friends love it.
- Ask a pro. When you’re only trying to improve for yourself, you have the freedom to work with a personal trainer that can help you set and achieve your own goals. You can feel inspired to work on the conditioning that best meets your needs instead of trying to achieve anyone else’s version of perfection.
Where do you draw your motivation? Are you internally motivated or externally motivated?
If you routinely tell yourself you’ll start something “tomorrow” or find that you often wait until Monday, New Year’s Day, or the dreaded “someday,” you might be a victim of exercise procrastination. The bad news is that you already know “tomorrow” and “someday” never actually arrive. There is no magical moment where the stars align and you suddenly feel inspired to start your exercise routine and healthy lifestyle. The good news is, all you have to do to overcome your procrastination is to simply start today.
With FitClub’s tips below, you’ll be ready to start now!
- Keep it simple. Whenever we’re starting a new habit, lifestyle, or way of life, it’s important not to burn yourself out the first day. If you’re new to exercise, you can’t expect to run a marathon tomorrow. Not only do you risk soreness and injury by doing too much too soon, but you also set yourself up for disappointment and burnout. Commit to starting slowly with fifteen to twenty minutes of exercise. Once those endorphins kick in, you may find yourself wanting to do more and jump back in again tomorrow. Setting reasonable and achievable expectations for yourself ensures that you see progress every day and look forward to your next workout.
- Celebrate consistency, not the scale. Waiting to celebrate progress until you hit your goal weight or achieve a long-term goal can make exercise feel too much like work. Instead, celebrate your consistency instead of future progress. Put a checkmark on the calendar, check in on social media when you walk into FitClub or even brag to your friends that you’ve worked out seven days in a row. The tangible rewards and measurable goals will come—probably more quickly than you think—but consistency is the habit that will create a healthy lifestyle instead of a passing fad.
- Mix it up. If you have exercised in the past but found that you quit because you grew bored, look at this new opportunity as a chance to mix it up and experiment. If you’re not sure where to begin, check out FitClub’s variety of group exercise classes. FitClub’s classes take place at all times of the day and evenings, so you don’t even have to wait for tomorrow’s class schedule to get started. FitClub’s hours make it difficult to come up with an excuse for not starting right now.
- Tomorrow and someday never really come. If you are a procrastinator, you already know this. There’s no magical tomorrow when you wake up early for that workout that will change your life. You’ve probably already told yourself that you will start tomorrow and found a reason to hit the snooze button on your ambitions. What if, instead, you started today? Sometimes even just breaking our patterns of procrastination feels worth celebrating. In fact, while you’re reading this, there is probably a FitClub class starting soon. Click here, choose your class, and walk through the front doors! Don’t forget to brag, celebrate, and check in on social media!
Just when you’ve started making consistent exercise a priority and working toward reaching your goals, injury can strike. The mental pain of losing your exercise habit and fitness gains can be almost as hard to cope with as the physical pain of your injury. Before you throw in the towel and resign yourself to losing your fitness, let FitClub keep you on track physically and mentally while you recover.
- Be patient with yourself. Once you create an exercise habit, you may enjoy the endorphins and stress-relief of a good workout as much as you appreciate the physical changes your body is making. An injury that knocks you out of your routine can be stressful and depressing. Learning to be patient with yourself is a challenge, but it is necessary for your recovery. Pushing yourself to get back to a challenging workout can leave you sidelined even longer. If you’re finding the mental aspect of your injury and recovery difficult, drop into one of FitClub’s meditation classes. Clearing your mind, allowing thoughts to come and go, and developing a better relationship with yourself and your body can set you up for a far more endurable recovery phase.
- What can your body do? While you may not be able to engage in your favorite workout while you’re injured, there are probably still ways you can maintain your fitness. Check with your medical professional to see if it’s safe for you to participate in other activities. The elliptical, stationary bikes and swimming all make great low-impact activities that can relieve the stress on your joints that may have caused or contributed to your injury. Finding new ways to work out will allow you to maintain your habit and come back to full strength with your fitness intact.
- Don’t give up. If you find yourself falling into a pattern of sitting, sleeping, or eating too much, stay as active as you can while you recover. Remember how hard it was to start an exercise habit? Keeping yourself active, even if that means taking an easy walk or stretching every day, will make it far easier to jump back into the habit you worked hard to create at FitClub.
- Hire a personal trainer. If you’re not sure what you should or can be doing while you recover, talk to a personal trainer. FitClub’s personal trainers are trained to help you develop fitness and healthy habits and can work with your body’s limitations. They may be able to teach you moves that will increase the speed of your recovery.
- Return to exercise slowly. After suffering an injury and enduring recovery, you may be tempted to throw yourself back into the same challenging exercise you enjoyed before you were injured. Remember your body has been working hard to repair itself. Respect your body and return to exercise slowly and gradually to ensure that you won’t find yourself reinjured.
Being injured and taking a necessary break from your regular routine can be frustrating. Stay engaged and patient while your body works itself back to full strength.
If you’re children have spent the last three months begging for five more minutes in the swimming pool, it might be time to consider checking out Bearsharktopus Aquatic Swim Club that practices at FitClub. There’s far more reasons to consider a swimming team for your child than just to extend your child’s favorite summer activity. Swimming teams are one of the top organized athletic programs for improving physical and mental health, as well as confidence and camaraderie. Below are five reasons FitClub is proud to host the Bearsharktopus Aquatic Swim Club!
- Building strong friendships. Swimming is largely an individual sport, relay teams notwithstanding, but it builds instant camaraderie among members of the same team. Each time your child is in the pool, you can count on an entire team of fellow swimmers gathered on the side of the pool cheering for your child. And yes, for those of you wondering, your child can hear the encouragement during the race. Each time he or she takes a breath, the yelling teammates solidify the team aspect of an individual sport. Knowing your friends are there each time you take a breath is a pretty good metaphor for friendship and life!
- Safety first. Did you know that the second leading cause of accidental deaths for children between the ages of five and twenty-four is drowning? Learning pool safety, swimming skills, and competence in water is a skill that may save your child’s life. Learning to swim with a swim team is far more intense than learning to swim for fun. Your child can expect to learn stroke techniques that allow your child to competently swim in water above his or her head. Learning proper self-discipline around the pool and a respect for the water and hazards of the water will serve your child well.
- Many physical benefits. The physical and mental health benefits of swimming for children are almost too numerous to count. Swimming improves cardiovascular and lung health in people of all ages, but the resistance of the water and elegance of proper technique also improve strength and flexibility. Swimming, unlike other sports, also requires almost no impact on young joints and bones and improves balance.
- Stay calm and swim fast. Swimming also improves children’s mental and emotional health, as well. In fact, even Michael Phelps credit joining a swim team at a young age with managing his ADHD as a child. A swim team allows your child to get physical exercise in a fun atmosphere that they’ll look forward to at the end of the school day. The steady back and forth of the lanes and focus on proper technique provides an almost meditate experience for young children that may be struggling with focus and discipline or a stressful school year.
All sports introduce young children to goal setting, but unlike many other sports, swimming allows for a child to learn to set and achieve individual goals. With each swim, the child has a chance to achieve his or her new best time and find success through hard work and attention to detail. Even a child that doesn’t come in first place can “win” each race if he or she improves on time, technique or attention to detail. Mastering a new stroke, skill, or drill is worth celebrating.
FitClub is proud to host the new season for the Bearsharktopus Aquatic Swim Club and wishes the club success and fun in its upcoming year!