5 Easy Tips to Survive the Holiday Potluck

In offices all across the country, colleagues are gathering around far too much food for the annual office holiday potluck. If the very idea of this annual tradition makes your stomach hurt, follow FitClub’s 5 easy tips for finding a way to participate without derailing your healthy attitude.pot-luck_k9f7874-ed9dce52

  1. One plate, one trip. If your office starts putting the potluck food out early and leaves it out throughout the day, commit to using only one plate and making only one trip through the line. By committing to one plate and one trip, you can leave room for a small indulgence on your plate, while keeping your portion control in check. The minute you find yourself going back for seconds and thirds, remind yourself that there will be other meals to enjoy. If there’s not room on your plate, you can wait until next year’s potluck.
  2. Divide that plate into thirds. In your mind’s eye, try to see your one plate in thirds designated for complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats. If you can imagine your plate as three separate space holders, you can prepare to give your body what it needs, instead of just what your eyes see first. Looking at your plate as a mechanism for fueling your body may also keep you from loading up on food without any nutritional component at all.
  3. Hydrate all day. Thirst is often misunderstood as hunger. By warding off thirst throughout the day by drinking plenty of water, you can show up at your holiday potluck ready to enjoy your colleagues and a congenial atmosphere, instead of famished and ready to eat. You should also try to avoid sugary drinks throughout the day, which are nothing more than empty calories and a precursor to consuming more sugar.
  4. Fit in a workout before you eat. Starting your morning at FitClub is filled with advantages, but on this day it can be especially important. An early morning workout lifts your spirits, jumpstarts your metabolism, and can help you make better, healthy decisions throughout the day. It’s far more difficult to justify the second helping when you’ve already plowed through a difficult workout. While you’re burning calories at FitClub, remember how much easier it is to consume calories than burn calories and let that help keep you from reaching for seconds.
  5. Eat how you’d like to feel. Staying committed to a healthy lifestyle can be difficult during the holidays, but instead of feeling deprived, try to anticipate how the foods you are about to eat will make you feel. How many servings would you eat if you could know in advance which one will make you feel bloated or uncomfortable for the remainder of your workday? Most people would probably eat less if they anticipated the discomfort before they indulged. Enjoy your one plate of food and your afternoon free of belly bloat, sluggish thinking, and total discomfort.

Do you dread holiday potlucks? What tips do you use to make it through without derailing your healthy goals?

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Losing Motivation to Reach a Goal? FitClub Can Get You Back on Track

How long has it been since you set your fitness or weight loss goal? If you find that you are dreading the workouts that you know will get you to your goal, it may be time to ask yourself a few questions to see why you have lost your motivation. Are you certain that goal is still what you want? What do you do if you lose your motivation or decide to change your goal? FitClub can help you push through the motivation plateau to reach your healthy goals.amkt17317_monday_15_blog-v1-1050x591

  • Don’t just quit. If you’ve set a particular goal but have suffered from a lack of motivation in achieving it, don’t completely quit living your healthy lifestyle. Instead, take some time to decide whether the goal itself is something that you still want to pursue. Can you modify the goal to make it more desirable? Do you just need a break? Do you need to set a different goal entirely? If, for example, your goal was to train on the treadmills at FitClub this winter and be ready to run a 5K this spring, but the idea of one more day on the treadmills seems intolerable, don’t just stop exercising! Mix up the speed or incline during your next workout, or entirely take a break, try a different workout and allow your mind and body time to reflect.
  • Ask for help. If you’re already a member of FitClub, you don’t have to go it alone. Working with a personal trainer can up your motivation by introducing you to workouts or techniques that you haven’t tried. The professionals know what works best and can push you out of your comfort zone with each workout. If you find yourself doing the same workouts over and over again, getting bored and not seeing the progress you want, signing up to work with a personal trainer may be what you need to change your body and your attitude.
  • Mix it up. No matter what your healthy fitness goals may be, variety is what challenges to your mind and body to push through plateaus and see results. Aim to try a new cardio machine, try a new strength training move, or experience a new FitClub group exercise class each week. This doesn’t just give you something to look forward to (although it does), but it keeps your mind and muscles guessing, which is exactly what you need to maintain motivation and see progress.
  • What’s your reason? Maybe the goal is right for you, but you’ve lost sight of the reason you set this goal. Was your goal to lose weight? Often that’s not enough, especially after you’ve reached your goal weight. Instead of changing your goal, you may just need time to reflect on what the purpose of the goal is and expand that list. Setting a good example for your children, improving your cardiovascular health or building stronger, leaner muscles are all good reasons to keep working toward improved fitness. Think beyond the scale and add new reasons to reach that goal on your list.

How do you stay motivated when working toward a long-term goal? Have you ever discovered that your goal wasn’t working for you?

The Key to More Energy Is Your Diet

There is, perhaps, nothing more important than having the energy you need to accomplish all of your daily tasks, fit in a workout, and enjoy time with family and friends. Particularly during the holidays, maintaining your energy level throughout the day can be a challenge for everyone. However, managing or improving your energy may be as easy as changing up what’s on your plate.Hispanic man shopping for healthy food in supermarket

If you need an energy boost, follow the tips below and see if you recognize an improvement.

  • Add iron to your meals. Iron is responsible for delivering oxygen to your cells and a lack of iron in your diet can leave your immune system running low and you feeling fatigued. Especially during the winter months, immune systems are critical to staying healthy during cold and flu season. Plant-based sources of iron are found in beans, lentils, spinach, and sesame seeds and can be easily added to any salad, soup, or meal that you prepare for yourself or your family. For an added boost, try eating iron rich foods with a serving of Vitamin C, which helps your body absorb the iron.
  • Eat more real food. We don’t often take the time to ask ourselves whether our favorite meals or snacks are “real food,” but consuming more real food is the key to staying healthy, maintaining a healthy weight, and increasing our energy levels. If you’re unsure whether what you are choosing at the grocery store is real or processed, ask yourself two simple questions: (1) does it come from the perimeter or outside of the grocery store or the inside? Real food most often comes from the perimeter of the grocery store (produce and meat sections) rather than the inside aisles. (2) What does the ingredient list look like? If the ingredient list is a long list of words you can’t pronounce, it’s processed food. If, on the other hand, the ingredient list contains words you recognize and few enough ingredients that you can make it at home, it consists of real food. Bonus tip: If there is no label at all, eat it up!
  • Expand your variety of fruits and vegetables. If you find that you normally make two or three routine picks in the produce aisle, spend time trying to add variety to your plate. There’s no shortage of fruits and vegetables available all year. Make it a habit to pick up something new each week to receive the benefits of all nutrients and minerals. You might even find a new favorite, healthy source of what your body needs most.
  • Avoid sugar! When you find yourself running low on energy, sugary processed foods are usually easy to find and sound like an easy fix. Your body breaks down sugar very quickly, leaving you with a very short burst of energy and then a blood sugar crash that may leave you feeling more drained than before. Instead of reaching for the quick, insufficient fix, look for a balance of lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and a small amount of healthy fat, like a whole wheat turkey and avocado sandwich to maintain energy levels without the crash.
  • Balance your calorie intake. Skipping meals or eating too few calories at a meal will leave you famished and exhausted by the end of the day. Aim to balance your meals and your calories throughout your day to keep you satisfied and energized from morning until night.

Do you have a favorite snack or meal that always leaves you energized and ready to take on the day? Share it with us in the comments!

5 Reasons to Start Strength Training Today

Whether you find strength training intimidating or you just prefer cardiovascular exercise, it’s time to start adding strength training to your workout regimen. Strength training promises health benefits regardless of age, gender, or level of fitness. To convince you, FitClub has pulled together five health benefits that you can only get in the strength room.shutterstock_228004504-decisions-tmcphotos

  • Your bones get stronger. Bone mass begins to decline during your thirties. Adding strength training to your FitClub workouts, though, can increase bone density, resulting in stronger bones that aren’t as likely to break whether from an accident or osteoporosis as you age. Osteoporosis impacts women at a much higher rate than men, but men can develop osteoporosis or suffer from weak bones later in life, too. It’s never too or too early to start paying attention to strong, healthy bones that will last a lifetime. The very idea of weak bones can be terrifying, but the great news is that whether you’re lifting heavy weights and training for a body building competition or just doing bodyweight exercises (i.e. pushups), your bones are benefitting from strength and resistance training.
  • Strength training makes everyday activities easier. Think about the last time you picked up a young child or struggled to get a heavy bag from the car to the house. Adding strength and resistance training to your workout regimen makes even these daily activities more bearable. When you add strength training to your workout repertoire, you actually cause micro-tears in your muscles. When the muscles repair themselves after a workout, the cells sent to repair the muscles come back stronger than before. Just because you might be a little sore the next day, doesn’t mean you aren’t getting stronger with every workout!
  • It gives your heart a boost. While cardiovascular is still the best way to improve your heart health, strength training benefits your heart, too. Strength training has been found to lower blood pressure and increase good cholesterol. To maximize the benefits to your heart, pair strength training with your cardiovascular workout. Find something you love to do and be consistent three to five times each week.
  • Improved memory and decreased anxiety. A study published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine found that strength and resistance training improved the participants’ memory and ability to complete memory-related tasks. The study also showed improvement in symptoms of depression, increases in self-esteem, and a 30% improvement in sleep patterns. Adding weights or body weight exercises to your workout routine improves your body’s ability to oxygenate all of its systems, including the nervous system responsible for brain activity.
  • Muscle burns fat. Our muscles require a significant number of calories, even while at rest. If you’re only doing cardio exercises, your body may be burning both muscle and fat, resulting in the weight loss you see on the scale. To build a healthier, leaner body, resistance training can counteract muscle loss and lead to even higher fat loss. Lean muscle mass requires a higher metabolic rate, resulting in burning more calories even when you’re at rest. Burn calories even when you’re resting after your FitClub workout? Why not start today?

Questions about adding resistance training to your daily workout? Leave a comment!

Short on Time? Break Up Your Workout Into Shorter, More Frequent Bursts

Struggling to find time to get in a long workout? Good news! It is just as effective to do several shorter workouts throughout the day as one longer workout. Follow FitClub’s tips below to get the most out of breaking up your workouts.legpres

  • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that several, shorter workouts throughout your busy day may have the same impact on your fitness and health goals as one longer workout. Whether your goals include losing weight, building muscle mass, or living an overall healthier lifestyle, the CDC recommends striving for 150 to 300 minutes of physical activity each week. The key is to keep track of the minutes you spend each week on physical exercise and aiming to accomplish that goal rather than restricting yourself to only longer workouts on days you just can’t fit it in.
  • Make time for at least 10-minute segments. To give your body the best chance at success, make sure that your short workouts are at least 10 minutes in duration. Intensity matters, too, so if you’re short on time, devote 10 minutes to a high-intensity workout to get your heart pumping and your muscles the ability to burn calories even when you’ve finished your workout.
  • Ensure that you’re balancing your training. No matter how much time you have to allot to a workout, make sure that your balanced workout plan includes cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and flexibility training. Consider splitting your strength workouts throughout the week to ensure that you’re spending enough time on each body party. For example, you can divide strength training easily between upper body and lower body days. Alternate the workouts, be consistent and strive to ensure that you’re hitting each body part at least two times each week.
  • Make time for a short class or group training session. FitClub has group exercises classes and small group training sessions designed for even the busiest schedules. Exercising in a group forces you to break outside of your normal routine and the group atmosphere often motivates people to work harder than they might alone. Check out Fit Club’s variety of shorter group exercises classes like: Express CycleFit, Zumba Toning, CoreConditioning, or Zumba to get the most out of your FitClub time. Or sign up for a group training session like: Intensity, Dynamic or the new Team Training session which is an intense 30 minutes.
  • Be consistent. The most important commitment you can make to your health is that you will be consistent throughout the week. Even on days you don’t have time for a longer workout, showing up and making the most of your time helps you build on consistency and make exercise a habit. The more often you make it to FitClub and devote time to improving your health, the easier it becomes to find the time in your day to prioritize yourself. Even during the busy holiday season, you can find a few minutes each day to live longer, be healthier, and get happier.

What works for you when you’re short on time?

Is Fear Holding You Back?

Fear of failure is something that many of us have to deal with in our professional or personal lives, but have you ever wondered if it’s holding you back from achieving your fitness goals? If you’ve ever set a goal that seemed just a little scary when you started, only to quit when you started to see progress, fear may be to blame.home-workout-apps-training

The fear of not achieving our goals can be both conscious and subconscious. You might recognize that it’s been weeks since you’ve seen progress on the scale or in the strength room and be legitimately concerned that it’s never going to happen for you. That’s the conscious fear that’s part of daily life. Subconsciously, you may not recognize why you skipped a week of workouts, but it might just be the same hidden fear that you can’t actually achieve that goal.

If you think this may be true for you, there are ways to break the pattern and chase your goals, if not completely fearlessly, then despite that fear.

  • Is your goal attainable? Maybe it’s not. Or maybe the goal is attainable but the time frame that you have set isn’t working for you. If progress is coming more slowly than you’d like, be flexible enough to back up and look at the time frame that you’ve set. If you just need more time, be forgiving enough of yourself to allow your body and mind the time it needs to get where you want to be. There’s no shame in trying for a longer period of time than you thought you’d need.
  • How do you feel when you work toward your goal? Do you feel stronger and more confident with every rep or every mile? Or do you feel that you need to wait until you cross the finish line to celebrate and reward yourself? Every time you work toward your goal and every minor sign of progress along the way deserves to be celebrated. Instead of waiting to declare victory until you’ve mastered the ultimate goal, start to enjoy the process by seeking out small signs of victory. One rep at a heavier weight or one mile with fewer seconds is a sign that your mind and body are in sync and moving forward.
  • What’s the worst that can happen? If you’re being patient and flexible with yourself and your training methods, what’s the worst that can happen? Maybe you never lift the goal weight you had in mind or run the fast time you had in your head. But did you get better, fitter, stronger, or faster? When you think of it in terms of what you learned about yourself and what you did accomplish, you can begin to realize that even not attaining your ultimate goal can still lead you to many great accomplishments and a healthier lifestyle.

If you sense that when you get close to your goal you engage in self-sabotage, you’re not alone. The fear of failure is common and pervasive. When you recognize it happening to you, you can turn it around before you give up!

Take Control of Your Blood Pressure

Monday, FitClub urged you to know your blood pressure numbers to prevent negative health conditions from creeping up on you. Today, FitClub has common sense steps you can take right now to start controlling your blood pressure. FitClub’s experts, Dr. Imoff and nurse Andrea Byrne are available if you need specific advice. Happy mature woman exercising on a stationary bike in gym.

Start today!

  • Examine your stress level and address it. Everyone has some degree of stress in their lives. Whether it’s work obligations, family schedules, or relationship anxiety, some degree of stress is unavoidable. When that stress begins to impact your health, though, there are ways that you can reduce and manage your day to day stress. Exercise has been proven to reduce stress, release endorphins and even reduce the severity of anxiety and depression. Meditation is also an easy to learn process that has dramatic impacts on the way stress is felt and stored throughout the body. New to meditation or interested in learning more techniques? FitClub has a meditation class on Mondays and Fridays from 8:00 to 8:45AM at FitClub South You have nothing to lose but your stress!
  • Take a look at your diet. Radical dietary changes aren’t the only way to improve your health and reduce your blood pressure. Instead of avoiding change because it’s intimidating, or you’re worried about losing your favorite foods, look for ways that you can improve your diet gradually. Can you add more whole fruits and vegetables to your diet? Can you substitute lean protein like chicken or fish for red meat a few times each week? Can you reach for plain water when you’re thirsty instead of clinging to caffeinated or sugar-laden beverages? Adding more fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and water to your diet has significant effects on your blood pressure and overall health. You don’t have to make radical overnight changes to make an impact. Start slowly, and challenge yourself to find delicious ways to incorporate healthy foods with each meal. You may discover a new favorite food!
  • Both fitness and diet are really important to your overall health, and especially your blood pressure. FitClub’s variety of machines and equipment and group exercise schedule make it easy to find an activity that you love and can stay with. Making exercise a priority everyday makes it a habit. Like brushing your teeth, it will be easier to fit into your schedule when it becomes a new healthy habit that you look forward to and don’t have to schedule. If you’re new to exercise or want to change up your routine, talk to a personal trainer at FitClub and find a routine that makes it easy to commit.
  • See a medical professional. If you’re at all worried about your blood pressure or have questions, be sure to take advantage of FitClub’s professionals on staff or ask your own medical professional. Blood pressure is too important to ignore or to not understand.

As you begin to incorporate these changes into your healthier lifestyle, be sure to check your numbers again. Andrea recommends taking your blood pressure before and after exercise to demonstrate the effect that exercise on your blood pressure. Remember that day to day fluctuations in blood pressure are completely normal and every step you take is progress.

Have questions about what your numbers mean or how you can begin to improve your blood pressure? Don’t wait, ask in the comments or stop in to see the professionals at FitClub!