Five Easy Tricks to Make Your Morning Healthier

Whether you’re naturally a morning person or not, a healthy morning routine can change the way you feel physically and mentally all day long.  Ultimately, a healthy lifestyle is made one healthy decision at a time and those first opportunities for success come before the sun even rises. Even if you hate mornings, FitClub has five ways you can improve your health before noon every day.healthy-morning-routine1

  • Eliminate decisions. Most of us aren’t prepared to make decisions until we are fully awake.  Smoothie or donut?  Early FitClub class or an extra hour of sleep?  Making the decisions before you wake up can eliminate the temptation to make an unhealthy decision when you’re groggy.  Decide tonight how you’ll start your day tomorrow and stick to it for a better, healthier morning.
  • Create a morning routine that works for you. Your social media pages may be filled with people telling you about their perfect morning routines. The only perfect morning routine, though, is the one that works for you and that feels good to you.  For some people, extra sleep is critical to a successful day. For others, a morning exercise class is a better wakeup.  All you need to start creating a morning routine is a consistent wake up time that feels right to your body, a healthy breakfast that includes healthy fat and protein, and a small amount of time to reflect on the day ahead and set your priorities. Everything else you have to do in the morning to prepare for your day comes after you have taken those three healthy actions for yourself.
  • Try a morning FitClub group exercise class even if you’re not a morning person. Perhaps, even if you’re not a morning person, trying a FitClub morning class may change how you pursue your goals for the rest of the day.  Putting your workout first eliminates any excuse to skip your workout that may pop up later in the day.  A morning workout also helps you get ahead of unhealthy decisions. It’s much less likely you’ll opt for junk food for lunch if you’ve already made an early commitment to your health.
  • Make time for meditation. Taking just five minutes to meditate in the morning helps you clear your head, reduce stress, and focus your mind on accomplishing your goals. Better mental health is essential for better physical health and starting the day with our bodies and mind in sync paves the way for a healthier day.  If you’re new to meditation, drop into FitClub’s meditation class to learn how to start your own meditation practice.
  • Plan your day. Whether you write out every task and break your day into fifteen minute increments or you make a general to do list and keep your day flexible, taking just a few minutes to sort through your tasks allows you to prioritize action items that bring you closer to your goals.  Keeping a to do list frees up mental space for more important tasks and allows you to filter through unnecessary time wasters that keep you from reaching your goals.

Is Multi-tasking Keeping You From Reaching Your Fitness Goals?

It’s tempting to think that we can do more with less time if we just multi-task our way through life.  Returning emails while you’re on the treadmill or scanning social media while you’re meal prepping might be thwarting your efforts at living a healthier lifestyle.  Any time you give less than your full attention to one task you risk undermining your own efforts.  FitClub has three reasons multi-tasking may be keeping you from your goals and gives you easy fixes to save you time and effort.1

  • The main reason multi-tasking fails is because your brain simply can’t conduct two unrelated tasks at the same time. Even if you hear what someone on the phone is saying while you’re increasing your incline on the treadmill, the information can’t adequately store itself in your long term memory for use later.  You’re wasting your workout trying to conduct a phone call you’ll forget soon anyway. The solution is obvious, if not easy in the constantly connected world we live in. Leave your phone alone while you’re at FitClub.  While you’re exercising, be fully present in the workout, paying attention to your form, your breathing pattern, and the way exercise makes you feel.  You may have to find time later to return that phone call that can’t wait, but it’ll seem easier when the endorphins of a satisfying workout kick in.
  • Multi-tasking is exhausting. Your brain is designed to focus on one activity at a time and when you challenge it to flip between multiple tasks at once, it tires out more quickly.  If you think of your brain as a computer, you can appreciate that even good computers run more slowly when you have too many tabs open at any given moment.  As you lose energy to multi-tasking, you’re more prone to mistakes and may have difficulty making decisions.  Fast food companies thrive on the fact that people have expended all of their effort before they’ve made a conscious healthy decision about what they’ll have for dinner at the end of a long day.  If your work day or home life make giving up multi-tasking impossible, at least take time in the mornings or on weekends to prepare healthy dishes in advance.  Cleaning and cutting vegetables and fruit or making healthy meals that can be reheated or frozen for later use can help you enjoy a healthy, effortless meal even when you’re mentally exhausted at the end of a long day.
  • Multitasking may alleviate boredom but it’s also keeping you from a more mindful experience. It’s okay to workout without trying to keep up with a complicated audio book or television show.  A constant stream of information actually fuels your stress.  A study done by the University of California Irvine found that multi-taskers had an elevated heart rate indicating stress. If the thought of being more mindful stresses you out, try FitClub’s meditation classto learn how to work with your mind instead of against it.

How do you feel about multi-tasking?  Do you think it holds you back from reaching your goals?

Three Easy Ways to Curb Your Sweet Tooth

The aisles of the grocery stores are lined with bright packages of once-a-year Easter candy and it can be hard to resist even for those of us without a nagging sweet tooth.  Those tiny chocolate bunnies, pastel colored chocolate eggs, and jelly beans may look harmless, and in fact inviting, but they have high calorie counts and absolutely no nutrition.  Your favorite sticky, sugary treat may not only be unhealthy, but can also make you hungrier than before your afternoon snack.  If you find your sweet tooth is difficult to manage, FitClub has five easy ways to regain power over your sweet tooth and stay healthy this Easter season.Cinnamon-Apple-Snack

  • Build a better breakfast. A healthy breakfast helps you start your day with a healthy mindset and your healthy goals as your top priority.  It’s also critical for managing your sweet tooth throughout the day.  Certain foods like white flour, white bread, and potatoes actually make you crave sugar later in the day.  Instead of putting yourself at risk of serious cravings, filling up early with a breakfast that contains fiber and protein will allow you to forgo the afternoon battle with the vending machine.  Eggs, nuts, and vegetables for breakfast prevent blood sugar crashes and keep you feeling fuller all day.
  • Reduce stress and boredom. Before you give in to a sugar craving, take a moment to determine whether you’re actually suffering from stress or boredom at that particular moment.  Stress releases cortisol into the body which often results in cravings for sugary junk food.  Likewise, boredom is often disguised as hunger when what your mind and body really needs is an activity or something of interest.  This may explain why sugar cravings are common in the late afternoon.  Take a quick walk on a break from work or check out FitClub’s meditation class to begin your own meditation practice you can take anywhere.
  • Spice up your healthy snacks. Adding spices or healthy toppings to your snacks can make you feel more satisfied and help you manage your sweet tooth.  Cinnamon is a natural way to reduce your sugar cravings and can be easily added to apples, vegetables, or even your morning coffee in lieu of sugar. Likewise, adding a small portion of nuts or natural peanut butter to your vegetables can add taste without adding sugar.  Be leery, though, of any label that includes the words “artificial sweetener” or “high fructose corn syrup.”  Sugar in disguise is just as unhealthy as sugar in the brightly colored bags of candy.

How do you steer clear of the Easter candy aisle while you’re grocery shopping? Do you have an effective tip for managing your sweet tooth when it starts to nag?  Share your tips with your fellow FitClub members.

Is Strength Training the Best Workout to Lose Abdominal Fat?

Losing fat from around your midsection is incredibly important to your overall health. Abdominal fat has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure, but can be difficult to reduce. If you’ve been spending hours on a cardio machine or doing thousands of crunches in an attempt to lose abdominal fat without success it’s time to add strength training to your workout repertoire. belly-fat

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to spot-reduce fat from any specific part of your body.  To lose abdominal fat, you have to focus on losing overall body fat. Where you lose fat first is a product of your genetics.  Cardiovascular exercises burn calories while you’re exercising and while it’s a critical component of a healthy weight loss goal, strength training continues to raise your metabolism, allowing you to burn calories even while at rest.

How to Add Strength Training for the Best Results.

  • Hire a personal trainer. Strength training can be intimidating if you’re new to the activity.  You may not be familiar with the variety of weights or even how to properly perform a rep.  Working with a personal trainer at FitClub is the most effective way to learn proper form and to discover the moves that will help you meet your goals faster.  A personal trainer may even introduce you to a new favorite form of exercise you’ve never considered.
  • Start slowly. When you’re beginning a new strength training routine, start with a weight that is low enough for you to maintain proper form through eight to ten repetitions.  If you can’t maintain proper form, the weight is too heavy and you put yourself at risk for injury.  Focusing on your form will allow you to stay healthy while you build muscle.
  • Be consistent. Like any other activity, consistency is what brings results.  Adding weight lifting to your workout routine three times each week will allow you to build muscle, establish consistency and still allow tired muscles time to rest and repair from the prior workout.  You can easily add a strength training component at the beginning or end of your favorite cardio workout to maximize your time at FitClub.
  • Add compound movements. As you begin to build familiarity with strength training you can begin to add compound movements to your repertoire.  Compound movements are any moves that work two muscle groups at the same time.  For example, a squat with an overhead press is a compound move because both your legs and your arms are working.  Compound moves require more energy from the body and burn more calories in a shorter amount of time.  These moves should leave you feeling slightly winded at the end of your set.
  • Keep making progress. When you can maintain your form using a low weight, it’s time to increase the weight to avoid hitting a plateau.  Our bodies are incredible at adapting to the stresses we routinely place upon them. In order to keep making progress, you have to keep challenging your body.

Snack Better for Healthier Results

Snacking can help you reach your weight loss goals if you do it the right way. Of course, running for the vending machine between meetings will set you back, but done correctly, snacking can provide valuable nutrients, higher levels of energy, and less hunger between meals.  How you choose your snacks matters.  FitClub has four tips for satisfying snacking to keep you happier and healthier.62914016 - healthy snacks on wooden table, top view

  • Fewer calories, more nutrients. Instead of quickly consuming a three hundred calorie candy bar that’s going to set you back and leave you hungry, opt for snacks at one hundred fifty calories or less that contain nutrients your body needs to function at its best.  Fiber is a great way to fill you up without slowing you down.  Fruit and vegetables naturally contain high amounts of fiber and will leave you feeling satisfied between meals.  You can keep it interesting by mixing up your produce or making small combinations of your favorite flavors.
  • Opt for more protein. Protein slows how quickly carbs enter your bloodstream which results in feeling fuller longer.  Instead of relying on sugary, high-calorie protein bars you might find at the grocery store, hard boiled eggs or natural nut butters can bump up your protein without the sugar crash later in the day.  Adding peanut butter or Greek yogurt to fruits and vegetables can add flavor as well as protein to your high-fiber snacks.
  • Keep it interesting. No one likes boring foods.  If your snacks constantly consist of the same fruit or vegetable each day, you’re going to lose interest in an otherwise high quality snack.  Boredom may make you reach for a less healthy snack to get through a long day.  You can ward off boredom and increase the variety of nutrients your body needs by simply mixing up your snacks from time to time.  The next time you shop for groceries, try a type of fruit or vegetable you’ve never had before or add a small portion of nuts to your typical snack.
  • Portion sizes count. No matter how healthy a snack claims to be, reading and respecting the portion size on the label will keep you from consuming far more calories than you might have intended.  By taking the time to pre-portion your snacks you can ensure that you know how many servings and how many calories you’re consuming throughout the day.  If you’re adding snacks to your day, remember to account for those calories in whatever way you track calories and compensate at meal time accordingly.  If you’re snacking successfully you might find that you’re less hungry at meal time than you might otherwise be.

Do you snack during the day?  What do you find gives you more energy and what seems to slow you down?

Maximize Your Cross-Training with Yoga

No matter what your fitness goal may be, adding yoga to your cross-training schedule can improve your fitness, reduce soreness and chance of injury, and calm your mind.  If you’re new to yoga, let FitClub convince you to give it a try on your next cross-training day.  Here’s how yoga can help you reach your fitness goals faster:yogaclass-20.jpg-3

  • Learn to breathe through tough moments. At the root of any yoga class is a breathing practice that moves you from pose to pose.  Learning to inhale and exhale equally can be useful when you’re pushing through a challenging run or difficult strength session.
  • Increased mental focus. Practiced breathing and attention to each pose and posture can increase your mental focus, even when you’re off the yoga mat.  If you consistently find your mind to be your greatest obstacle during a workout, yoga can help you learn to master the negative self-talk or mental chatter that tries to hold you back.  Yoga is a critical tool for improving your mental focus and stress management in every area of your life.
  • Faster recovery. When increasingly difficult workouts leave you feeling sore or tight, yoga can help you flush the lactic acid that causes soreness out of your muscles and relieve tight, overworked muscles. You don’t have to be incredibly flexible to benefit from the restorative yoga poses central to every yoga class. If soreness from your regular workouts are keeping you sidelined, adding a yoga class between tough workouts can help you get back to your schedule more quickly.
  • Even out muscle imbalances. Whether you’re a runner, weight lifter, or just prefer one particular form of exercise over another, chances are parts of your body are stronger than others.  Using your own body weight in a variety of challenging yoga poses helps build lean muscle mass in areas that might be underworked in your current routine.  Unlike other forms of exercise, yoga is a full body activity that challenges each muscle and evens out muscle imbalances that may be keeping you from living your healthiest life.
  • Healthier joints and range of motion. If you’re consistently training for a fitness goal, you’re likely loading particular joints or muscle groups with the majority of the work.  Yoga helps to keep your joints healthy and improves the range of motion in the muscles you use most often in chasing your goals. Improved flexibility can also help prevent overuse injuries, leading to fewer missed workouts on your fitness journey.

If you’re interested in trying yoga, grab your yoga mat and check out FitClub’s group class schedules.  You don’t need to be flexible or an expert in the practice to get started. FitClub’s yoga instructors can help you learn the practice in a friendly and safe manner.

What do you love about yoga?  Is it your primary form of exercise or a compliment to another fitness goal? Share your thoughts in the comments!

How Tracking Your Fitness Excuses Can Help You Reach Your Goals

It may seem like tough love, but tracking your missed workouts and days when you know you haven’t eaten healthfully can help you reach your workout goals.  You can’t measure what you don’t track and if you’ve been working with a training plan and trying to lose weight or gain strength, tracking the days that you made an excuse to miss your workout or binge on fast food can help you reach your goals faster.5-tips-to-help-you-stay-on-track-with-exercise

Why tracking your efforts helps you reach your goals.
Tracking your calories in, calories out, and your workouts help to keep you accountable and committed to your results.  For some, the satisfaction of crossing off a successful workout or seeing that you’re under your calorie goal for the day is enough motivation to keep moving forward.  For others, seeing your efforts and progress in black and white helps to take the mystery out of getting healthier.  Whether you prefer pen and paper or a tech-savvy app on your phone for tracking, it’s the act of tracking that makes you accountable to yourself, not the way that you track.

How to track the negatives, as well as the positives.
Missing a workout or having a cheat day isn’t a reason to throw in the towel.  If you find that you’re routinely skipping workouts, making excuses, and promising yourself you’ll start again tomorrow, you might benefit from keeping track of those days you didn’t hit your goals.

  • Count your calories even on cheat days or cheat meals. Whether you planned a cheat day or an unexpected event kept you from your healthy eating goals, make sure the bad calories get tracked, too. Holding yourself accountable on the tough days can help you better understand why you’re not seeing results, and might prevent you from overeating if you know you have to log it.
  • Write down your reason. Whether you missed a few workouts in a row or found yourself eating more than intended, it’s important to make note of your excuses.  Being honest with yourself is the cornerstone of accountability. Often, we tend to lie to ourselves, convincing ourselves that we’re eating healthy foods and portions and exercising consistently when that’s not the case.  Writing down your reasons forces you to be truthful to yourself, and accountable for your progress and setbacks.
  • Look for patterns. If you see the same excuses popping up on a regular basis, you can catch a bad habit before it takes root and start to change your behavior.You can see how unexpected events keep you from your workout and adjust your schedule accordingly.  Maybe a morning workout will help you stay on track? Maybe you’re not managing stress at work and would benefit from a noon workout?  When you see patterns, you can act to prevent the patterns from keeping you from your goals.

Do you track the bad days as well as the good days?  How and what do you track to hit your goals?