Excuse Proof Your Summer Schedule and Make Your Workouts Count

Summer seems to fly by as our social calendars fill up with late nights and summer vacations. Instead of giving up your health and fitness goals just because your calendar is starting to fill up, excuse proof your summer with FitClub’s tips to get your workout in no matter what else is going on in your life.20160616144523-good-night-sleep-morning-routine-wake-up-stretching-relaxation

  1. Become a morning person. It’s not easy to train yourself to wake up earlier for a workout, but it is worth it!  Setting your alarm an hour earlier to make it to FitClub for a group exercise class eliminates any chance that after-work plans will derail your commitment to living your healthiest life.  Knowing your workout is done before your day even begins, is hugely freeing and frees up your summer evenings for time with family and friends.
  2. Pack your snacks. Taking a road trip or a vacation often means tempting fast food and junk food stops along the way.  This year, though, you can take the time to plan ahead and pack pre-cut vegetables and fruit, protein bars, and plenty of cold water to keep you healthy and happy while you enjoy your summer.
  3. Get healthier during your lunch hour. FitClub has group exercise classes throughout the day and night.  Instead of eating another lunch at your desk, this summer, use your lunch break to conquer your workout.  Not only will you be able to ensure that your workout fits in your schedule, but you’ll come back to the office more energized and creative than when you left.
  4. Make a commitment. If you’re meeting a friend at FitClub, you’re likely to keep your plans no matter how busy life gets.  Instead of setting up happy hours after work, make a date to meet a friend at Zumba, CycleFit or your favorite FitClub class every week.  You can multi-task by enjoying time with friends or family while you work to improve your health.
  5. Remember why you started. Before you sleep in or skip a lunch time workout class, remember why you started working out.  No matter where you are in your healthy lifestyle journey, it was probably difficult to get started.  Instead of falling behind and starting over this summer, make a commitment to finish this summer in the best shape of your life.
  6. Redefine your goal. If you’ve been exercising to see a smaller number on the scale, summer may be a good time to reframe that goal.  Instead of worrying about a number, pay attention to how you feel throughout your day.  After a FitClub workout, do you feel energized and have more endurance to chase your kids or enjoy your friends?  Do you feel stronger and more confident when you hit the pool on the weekends? Exercise and a healthy lifestyle are about far more than just the number on the scale.

How do you make time for your workout when summer sets in?  Leave your tips and tricks in the comments for other FitClub members!


Burn More Calories in Less Time with Circuit Training

For many people, the beginning of summer means busy travel schedules and full social calendars.  You don’t have to skimp on a total body workout to make the most of your summer days.  Circuit training can allow you to burn more calories in less time, with a total body workout that gets you back to the sunshine faster.how-to-build-circuit-workout-_0

What is circuit training?

Put simply, a circuit training workout is a workout that combines cardio moves with strength training, alternated in short bursts of intense activity with a brief rest between each activity.  Eliminating lengthy breaks between exercises or wandering around FitClub in search of your next move, circuit training is designed to get you maximum results in less time.

In fact, in only to thirty to forty-five second bursts of intense activity, followed by ten seconds of rest repeated throughout your workout, you’ll burn more calories and increase muscle strength in thirty to forty five minutes.

Why does circuit training work for everyone?

The same workout day after day not only causes muscle burnout but can cause you to feel boredom even thinking about your workout.  At FitClub, there are so many resources for the perfect circuit workout, you won’t have to endure one more day with the same old, worn out workout.  Switching moves every thirty to forty-five seconds eliminates mental and physical boredom and keeps your muscles guessing.  You can mix up the moves or add new moves simply by changing up your plan from one day to the next.

Circuit training doesn’t only eliminate boredom, it also allows you to build your endurance more effectively than spending hours on a cardio machine and in a much shorter amount of time.  You can even burn 30% more calories than typical weight workouts, by simply throwing your favorite cardio moves into the mix.

Here is how you can do it:

  • Make a plan. To maximize effectiveness and eliminate wasted time, write out your workout before you hit FitClub.  Almost any exercise can be added to a circuit training workout, but the goal is to balance muscle groups to engage your whole body.  Aim to add cardio bursts of HIIT (mountain climbers, burpees, high knees), strength training that targets arms and legs, exercises that work your abs from different angles, and one or more compound exercises (i.e. squats with an overhead shoulder press).  If you can mix up the muscles worked (i.e. following an arm exercise with a leg exercise), you don’t need more than the 10 seconds of rest! When your moves or the amount of weight you’re using starts to feel easy, challenge yourself by simply picking up the pace or adding more weight to your resistance moves.
  • Grab your gear. The beauty of a circuit training workout is that you don’t need much equipment or space. Busy periods at FitClub are no excuse to skip your circuit training.  All you need is a small bit of floor space, your preferred resistance training equipment and a floor mat.  Because you walked into FitClub with a plan, you’ll know right from the start what resistance equipment you need to get started.
  • Watch the time. The key to a successful circuit training workout is your eye on the time.  With each of the ten exercises you chose above, you’ll go all out for 30 seconds, and with 10 seconds of rest.  Doing each round four times, means you worked your entire body in only thirty minutes.

If you’re not sure how to start circuit training or are looking for ideas to add to your mix, consult with a personal trainer at FitClub to get started getting fitter faster!

The Science of Food Addiction

If you find it absolutely impossible to avoid overeating or to control yourself around certain foods, it might be more than a lack of self-discipline.  As early as 1956, researchers determined that addiction to food was much the same as addiction to other substances. Food addiction is a very real mental health condition that, according to a study conducted by Yale University, may affect more than six percent of normal-weight adults and fourteen percent of over-weight adults.  If you or someone you know suffers from food addiction, knowing the science may put you on the path to recovery.binge-eating-and-11-tips-to-overcome-it

Scientists believe that food addiction impacts the same areas of the brain that are stimulated by drug addiction.  For people with an addiction to food, certain foods interfere with the brain’s preprogrammed brain chemistry, causing dopamine to be released when the food is eaten.  It’s the release of dopamine sparked by certain foods that causes people to eat unhealthy foods or too much food when they are feeling stress, boredom, grief, or unhappiness.  As people gain weight or feel shame about the way they eat, the unhappiness persists, growing worse and the need for the dopamine release increases, causing the addictive cycle to grow stronger much the same way drug addicts develop a tolerance to the drug.

But is it food addiction or just a tendency to steer yourself to particular junk foods or comfort foods when you feel stressed or unhappy?  It might be food addiction if you frequently eat to the point of physical discomfort or pain. It’s happened to all of us, usually around the holidays when you just can’t resist one more helping of your favorite food.  If it happens regularly, though, or is impacting your ability to enjoy meals with friends without pain, it might be an addiction instead of a bad habit. Overeating for those with a food addiction might also trigger guilt about the type of food or the amount of food they tend towards, resulting in hiding the food and evidence of the binge.

Unlike other addictions, total abstinence from food to recover from the addiction is obviously impossible.  Just like any other addiction, it’s unlikely that those with food addiction can overcome it on his or her own.  The key to overcoming food addiction, is the well-known edict, you have to first admit that you have an addiction to food.  Qualified medical professionals or mental health professionals can help a person identify why he or she turns to food for a dopamine release and make a plan to change that behavior and cope with the cravings and difficulties that come with eliminating problem foods.

If you have questions about food addiction or advice for overcoming the difficult addiction, share your knowledge with fellow FitClub members below.

The Keto Diet is Popular, But is it Right for You?

If you spend any time at all reading health and fitness magazines, you’ve already seen the word “keto”.  You may even have friends or family that are experimenting with the “keto diet.” Before you dive in, though, you have to determine if the keto diet is right for you.ketogenic-diet-your-complete-meal-plan-and-supplement-guide-v2-macrobreakdown

First, what does it even mean?

The body generally burns energy via the sugars in your blood (glucose) first. Glucose most commonly comes into the body via carbohydrates, starches, and sugars.  “Ketosis” is the body’s metabolic process of burning fat when it lacks enough glycogen to maintain your energy level.  Instead of burning through unused carbohydrates in the body, the body produces more fatty acids that are turned into ketones by the liver to be used as energy. The process results in the body burning fat, instead of glucose, to sustain its energy level.

The Diet

The principle of the diet is to keep your body in fat burning mode, rather than glycogen burning mode, by limiting carbohydrates in your diet and eating a diet high in fat with a small amount of protein.  A typical version of the keto diet requires 75% of daily calories from fat, 20% from protein, and 5% carbohydrates.

For example, foods commonly eaten on the keto diet include eggs, cheese, red meat, turkey, nuts.  Because carbohydrates are allowed only in very small amounts, most carbohydrates in the keto diet are derived from fruits and vegetables, rather than bread, pasta, or rice.  While coffee is allowed, sugar or sugary substitutes to flavor coffee are off-limits.

Reading labels and tracking macros is essential for maintaining the keto diet even short-term.

Is it healthy?

Maybe.  Major health organizations like the American Heart Association and the Obesity Societyare still researching to determine whether there are any cardiovascular benefits to eating a keto diet.  Early research seems to suggest that there may be healthy benefits derived for those with cardiovascular disease or diabetes and an increased ability to lose weight more quickly than on a low fat diet.

Certain medical conditions or circumstances may be aggravated by a keto diet, including those who take medication to lower blood sugar, breastfeeding women, and those prone to constipation or headaches.

Before you dive in to any radical diet, it’s best to discuss your plans with your medical providers.  Now that you know what the keto diet is, you’re prepared to have that conversation.

Following the keto diet?  Share your experience with your fellow FitClub members in the comments.

Tired of Starting Over? Why Quitting Happens and What to Do Instead

January 1stis now just a long, forgotten day that we all made promises to ourselves.  Maybe you promised you’d train to achieve a goal, achieve a healthy weight, or just start adding FitClub to your day.  By now, most of us have stumbled or given up on our goals, maybe even several times. If you’re tired of finding yourself starting over, first you have to understand why you quit chasing your goals to begin with.5ae091d7bd967121008b4646-960-720

Why quitting happens.

  • Your schedule is unmanageable. Like all other areas of your life, your fitness routine and healthy meal prep is subject to the occasional emergency or particularly busy week.  Unfortunately, taking time to improve our health is often the first task on our to do lists to be eliminated as we search for more hours in the day to work, be with family or friends, and rest.  One day of skipping your workout because of an unforeseen crisis soon becomes a week, then a month, and you find yourself unable to remember the last time you slipped into your workout clothes and broke a sweat.

The fix: Life happens and no matter how busy our schedules, we still only have twenty-four hours each day. Look through your calendar over the last several weeks. Can you find time that you could have better spent at FitClub or preparing a healthy meal?  Look at your calendar with the same exacting eye for detail that you might look at your budget if you were to cut your spending. Most of us have unused or wasted time during the day that could add up to a significant workout. Taking care of yourself and improving your health should be priorities that you make time to do. Instead of being subject to the whim of your work schedule, excuse-proof your workout by waking an hour earlier each morning.  FitClub’s early morning group exercise classes, twenty-four hour access, and convenient locations make morning workouts possible even for those of us that struggle in the mornings.

  • You’re only accountable to yourself. No matter how healthy your support system is, ultimately our health and fitness goals are incredibly personal and we are only accountable to ourselves. When no one’s around to monitor your exercise and diet, how often do you hit the drive through, skip a workout, or skimp on self care to take an easier path?  For most of us, without anyone looking over our shoulder while we eat or snooze in front of the television, it becomes all too easy to procrastinate on things that matter most.

The fix: Even if the results are personal, you don’t have to go it alone. If being accountable to no one but yourself makes it hard for you to stay on track, consider hiring a personal trainer at FitClub.  A personal trainer can keep you committed to a schedule, a goal, and give you feedback on whether you’re progressing as planned.  Making the commitment with someone other than yourself, including a professional, significantly increases your odds of sticking with your goal.

What to Eat For a Better Mood

Can food improve your mood?  Of course, but not in the way you think.  That pizza, ice cream, or drive through junk food you think you’re craving to make you happier isn’t the food that sustains a better mood.  Just like one workout doesn’t make you healthier, one meal doesn’t sustain a positive mood. A lifetime of workouts and a diet consisting of good-mood foods will dramatically change the way you see the world.good-mood-food

What to add:

Raw fruits and vegetables

To improve your mood, be sure to add raw fruits and vegetables to your meals.  While some cooked fruits and vegetables still have health benefits, raw fruits and vegetables best maintain the nutrients and vitamins that impact our moods. They have been shown to combat depression and promote a healthier brain chemistry.

Fruits like bananas, grapefruit, citrus, and berries are the top fruits to add to improve your mental and emotional health.  To get the most out of your raw vegetables, add dark leafy greens, cucumbers, celery, red onions, and mushrooms.

Don’t be afraid of fat—the good fat, that is.

We have been conditioned to be wary of fat in our diets, but don’t let the word mislead you.

Healthy fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are essential to a healthy diet and actually help your body absorb the nutrients and vitamins your body and mind need.   Healthy fats are also associated with improved heart health and reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes.  It’s also, fortunately, relatively easy to add to your diet.

Reach for healthy fats in foods like avocados, olive oil, nuts, and eggs. Even dark chocolate is a heart-healthy approved topping!

The key for adding fat to your diet, though, is to limit it to only healthy fats. Fried take out is covered in the unhealthy fat and does not count!  Even healthy fats should be consumed in moderation, so be sure to check and respect the recommended serving sizes and calorie counts.  Think a few nuts, not a bowl of nuts!

How to make it work every day:

If you’re already packing salads for your workday lunch, it’s easy to punch it up to improve your mood.  Starting with a salad full of raw vegetables, you can add a hardboiled egg, an avocado, and a small amount of extra virgin olive oil to add healthy fat to your healthy salad.  A simple, small dessert of dark chocolate and fresh berries finishes your good-mood lunch.

Loneliness Can Impact More Than Your Mood

Whether you’re new to Springfield or feeling cabin fever from the difficult spring we’ve experienced this year, everyone feels lonely from time to time.  Unfortunately, loneliness can impact more than just our emotional state of mind. Research establishes a direct link between loneliness and physical health. Fortunately, there are many avenues at FitClub you can explore to break free from the lonely feeling and counteract the negative effects on your health at the same time.1140-fd-minister-of-loneliness-imgcache-revfe79983bd92ba6e94c3235a44320eda8

Why loneliness is bad for your health.

Feeling lonely or experiencing real or perceived isolation causes stress, which negatively impacts the body with the release of unmitigated cortisol, the stress hormone, pulsating through the body.  The University of Chicagohas been studying the effects of loneliness and the sneaky ways it damages the body and mind.  As cortisol moves through the body on a recurring, regular basis, it raises blood pressure forcing the heart to work harder and compromising the blood flow, reduces the amount and quality of sleep, and contributes to depression. The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Healthhypothesized that loneliness may be as dangerous as smoking and even more dangerous than obesity.

The research continues to evolve, but it’s clear that if you regularly feel lonely, you can and should begin taking steps to build a social support network and combat loneliness.

What can FitClub do?

Loneliness is the feeling associated with a lack of a sufficient social and emotional network, friendships, and support.  Just stepping in to FitClub is a step in the right direction.  No matter what other interests you might have, you can be certain that the people you’ll find at FitClub share your interest in a healthier lifestyle.

  • Try group fitness classes. Group fitness is consistently proven to improve physical performance more rapidly than exercising alone, but there’s also an instant camaraderie forged by pushing through physical limits to achieve a shared goal.
  • Achieving goals is a boost to your emotional health. Setting and achieving fitness goals not only improves your physical health, but your mental health as well.  Whether you’re training for a marathon or just making a commitment to move each day, write out your goals and be sure to cross off those milestones as you finish each workout.  The act of crossing a healthy to-do off your list at the end of each day gives your self-esteem a boost each night before you head off to bed.
  • Learn to meditate. FitClub has a meditation class that can get you started on a lifelong journey of mental exercise.  Meditation is more than just a relaxation technique and has been proven to change the ruts in your brain with sustained practice.  Learning to identify emotions, rather than merely reacting to those emotions, has been proven to be a successful tool in fighting anxiety and depression.
  • Check out a seminar. FitClub routinely has short seminars designed to educate on any number of topics.  Find a talk that you might be interested in, ask questions, and introduce yourself to the others in the room, knowing that you have at least one common curiosity in common.

FitClub is more than just a health club. It can be that supportive community you may feel you lack.