Is Perfectionism Holding You Back From Reaching Your Goals?

Perfectionism may sound like something that can help you reach your goals, but it can actually keep you from achieving the goals you set while enjoying the process.  A perfectionist tends to have unrealistic standards for themselves or others and sees anything less than perfect as a failure.  For many people that suffer from perfectionism, that mindset infiltrates every aspect of their lives from their work to their health and fitness.  Setting goals and making a plan is essential to your health and fitness, but perfectionism may be sabotaging your goals.o-perfectionism-facebook

  • Even if your desire to perfectly achieve your goal doesn’t leave you physically burned out (and it might), it can leave you emotionally and mentally burned out before you achieve the goal.  Perfectionism tends to cause excessive worry and anxiety about achieving the goals you’ve set.  You might find yourself obsessing over minute details of your plan and comparing it to other training plans your friends are using that promise better or faster results. The anxiety and worry can creep in even when you’re at rest or at work, making you feel as though you aren’t doing enough every minute of the day.  Some worry and anxiety is natural and means that achieving your goal matters to you. Too much, though, can cause you mental burnout that derails your plan and forces you to give up.
  • Giving up. Perfectionists tend to approach goals with an all-or-nothing attitude.  If a perfectionist fears that he or she can’t have the perfect workout, they may opt not to do it at all.  What’s the point of trying if you can’t do it perfectly?  If you see signs of this in yourself, make an effort to change the way you think.  Any workout at all is better than no workout.  Instead of skipping your workout or giving up because you perceive a less-than-perfect workout as a setback, make a goal to get in any workout you can.  Even if a fifteen minute run on the treadmill is far less than the sixty minute sprint you had planned, it’s a better spent fifteen minutes than throwing in the towel. Every minute gets you closer to your goal.

What can you do to overcome perfectionism?

Make your goals about personal achievement instead of competition.  Whether you want to run a specific time in your next race, or lift a certain number of reps at a particular weight, setting goals that are personal to you alleviates pressure caused by competing with others.  You may still win your race or out lift your partner, but focusing on your personal development will allow you to eliminate unproductive anxiety about how you’ll measure up against others.

Allowing yourself to celebrate small achievements on the path to accomplishing your goal can also help you see the bigger picture and enjoy the process.  Fitness goals are achieved one day at a time.  If you’re not enjoying the process, you’ll find yourself questioning why you even started.

If you think you might suffer from perfectionism, embrace it as a sign that you’re in tune with trying your best. Then you can start working on healthier strategies designed to help you enjoy the process and still reach your goal.

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Traveling for Work? Keep Your Health and Wellness on Track While You’re Away

Eating right and prioritizing your health and fitness while you travel is difficult, especially if you travel frequently for work. Even on those days that you have to be away from your regular FitClub workout, FitClub has your best interests in mind and a handy list of reminders to prioritize your health while you’re away.252510_3

  • Balance is key. Every airport, hotel, and new city has it’s temptations of unhealthy food.  Finding balance is the key to enjoying a new location while you maintain your health and fitness.  The same fast food restaurant you pass after work on your way to FitClub is not a reason to cheat on your healthy meal plan.  Most restaurants have grilled chicken, healthy salads (with dressing on the side), and low calorie options.  Instead of indulging on the same junk you resist while you’re at home, save your indulgence for a city’s delicacy.  Whether it’s sushi on the West Coast or a slice of pizza in Chicago, make your one cheat meal worth it!
  • Stay on your schedule. Even though we know you hate missing your favorite FitClub group exercise class or sweat session with your personal trainer, staying on your schedule as much as possible is the key for maintaining your health and fitness while you’re gone.  If you normally workout before you start your workday, set your alarm clock and make your way to the hotel fitness center to start your day with the healthy habit you worked hard to create.  Trying to go to bed and wake up at the same time also ensures that your body clock stays consistent and helps you resume your FitClub workouts as soon as you return home.
  • Water, water, water. Work conferences and hotels are full of vending machines with sugary teas, coffees, and soft drinks.  Don’t let your hydration or your waist line suffer by overconsuming these handy, but deceptively unhealthy beverages.  Traveling with your favorite water thermos is an easy way to remember to fill up and drink water throughout the day.  Maintaining your hydration levels is also a great way to beat jet lag!
  • Portion control matters. Traveling for any length of time means that you’ll have to dine out frequently.  The average restraurant serving size is two to three times the recommended serving size and likely far more than you would serve yourself at home.  Cut your meal in half, mentally or physically, as soon as it arrives. Taking healthy options with you in your suitcase will also nix that urge to rush to a vending machine or order dessert from room service once back in the hotel.
  • Get out and see the city. Despite your early morning workout, regular bedtime schedule, and a full day of work, you might be able to sneak in a brisk walk or running tour of the city.  Check with your hotel’s front desk and ask whether it’s safe to walk certain parts of the new city alone. Some cities even offer free walking tours so you can get your steps in while you take in a few sights!

The most important tip of all, though, is to get home to FitClub as soon as you can!  No matter how you feel about traveling for work, your friends and community at FitClub can’t wait for you to return!

Trying to Cut Down on the Calories You Drink? FitClub’s Guide to Staying Hydrated the Healthy Way

You already know that water is the best, most convenient, and healthiest way to hydrate your body throughout the day.  You also know that soft drinks, sugary fruit juices, and calorie bombs disguised as fancy coffee are the unhealthiest drinks available.  If you’re looking for healthy options in addition to water, read FitClub’s tips below to stay hydrated without the unhealthy calories and sugar crash.

  1. Flavor your water naturally. Does your afternoon hydration break just need a flavor boost?  Before you opt for sugary, processed additives, try just adding citrus, herbs or berries to your regular dose of H20.  Lemons, limes, oranges, mint, or strawberries all add flavor to water without added chemicals or sugar.  Especially during the remaining warm weeks ahead, adding fruit to your water can be the pick me up you need all day long.img_2667
  2. Fruit smoothie. A fruit smoothie sounds like a perfectly healthy way to rehydrate, and it can be if you do it right.  This option doesn’t count as a calorie-free alternative to plain water, but if you substitute it for a meal or snack, you can hydrate while satisfying your hunger cravings with natural, healthy foods.  To cut back on the calories in your favorite smoothie recipe, opt for skim milk and half a banana.  Being mindful of your serving sizes in the recipe will help you stay fit and enjoy a healthy snack that also rehydrates your body.
  3. Green tea. If you need a caffeine pick me up in the afternoon, opting for green tea instead of coffee or soft drinks will perk you up and deliver health benefits. Green tea has less caffeine than other options so you can avoid the caffeine crash of coffee while you also enjoy the antioxidant benefits which help protect your body against cancer. Scientists believe that green tea may also reduce your risk of heart diseaseby relaxing blood vessels.
  4. Tomato juice. Tomato juice also contains antioxidants like lycopene, which may reduce the risk of certain cancers.  With less sugar than other processed fruit juices, tomato juice has only approximately thirty-one calories in six ounces of juice.
  5. Fresh squeezed orange juice. If you’re craving orange juice and in need of its amazing Vitamin C benefits, squeeze orange juice at home for a healthier option without the added sugar you’ll find in store brands.  Although it’s time consuming and more expensive to make fresh squeezed orange juice at home, the pure flavor and health benefits are worth it. Be mindful of making this your all-day drink, though, because unlike water, it tips in at 115 calories per eight ounce serving.

While water is best for sugar-free hydration, the list above may add a little spark to your daily routine without causing unwanted weight gain or inevitable sugar crashes.  What’s your drink of choice during the day?

Want to Love Your Workout? Try FitClub’s Tips to Have More Fun

If you find yourself jealous of that friend that seems to genuinely enjoy a pre-dawn workout or a post-work cardio session, you’re not alone.  While some people seem to have been born with the right attitude about exercise, others struggle to make it a priority because they just don’t enjoy working out. Good news! You might be able to change your attitude about exercise and find yourself looking forward to your next workout.Two sporty girls doing push ups in gym together

  • If you don’t like it, don’t do it. If you hate spending even a few minutes on the treadmill, don’t force yourself to do it.  While we all need a balance of cardiovascular exercise, strength exercises, and balance work, there are dozens of possibilities for each type of exercise. People that love exercise have found the exercises that not only work for their bodies, but work for their minds too. It might take you time to experiment with different machines, moves, and group exercise classes, but FitClub has a wide variety.  If you’ve been curious about trying something new, but you find yourself intimidated or nervous about getting started, check in with the personal trainers at FitClub. The personal trainers may even introduce you to a move our routine that you didn’t know would become your favorite.
  • Don’t give in to a trend. People that love to exercise don’t force themselves into fitness trends that don’t spark that joy.  Some people love the solitude of working out alone and don’t find that same joy in group exercise classes.  Others need to work out with a friend to make the experience more social.  There’s no one size fits all approach to how or with whom you workout.  Being open enough to try new things, but self aware enough to know what you prefer, will do wonders for your mental fitness while you work on your physical fitness.
  • They have goals beyond the scale. If you use exercise as an opportunity to beat yourself up for the cake you ate at an office birthday party, you’re not likely to enjoy the experience.  People that genuinely enjoy exercise have goals beyond losing weight that motivate them to push themselves and look forward to the results of the process. The next time you catch yourself calculating how much time you “have to spend” working out to burn off your last meal, try to reverse your thinking.  No one wants to do something they view as a punishment.  Instead, try focusing on how your mind and body feel when engaged in a movement you enjoy and how you value the results you’re seeing from your regular fitness routine.  If your only fitness-related goal is to see a smaller number on the scale, consider signing up for the next FitClub challenge.  Having motivators other than the number on the scale and a group of people working together might be just what you need to get unstuck and fall in love with fitness.

What You Need to Know About the New Food Pyramid

If you remember learning about the food pyramid, you might be surprised to know that the new food pyramid isn’t a pyramid at all.  Everything you thought you knew about a balanced diet has been flipped from a pyramid to a plate-shaped circle and the recommended number of servings has been changed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  It might sound surprising at first, but once you take a closer look, you’ll see that the changes just mirror what we already know about a healthy, balanced diet.

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What was wrong with the old pyramid?
When the food pyramid was introduced in 1992, it separated food into groups with the base of the pyramid consisting of grains. Fruits and vegetables were next, with dairy and meat sharing the third spot.  At the smallest level of the pyramid was fats, which included both sweets and heart healthy oils.  Nutritionists were always skeptical of the food pyramid because it didn’t differentiate between healthy foodsand unhealthy foods that fell into the same food groups (i.e. whole grains compared to white bread).

What’s changed?
Almost everything about the old pyramid has changed, beginning with the shape. The guide released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is now a circle, meant to represent a healthy, balanced meal consisting of mostly vegetables, followed by a healthy protein.  A limited amount of whole grains and an even smaller amount of fruits balance out the remainder of the plate.  One look at the new plate and you’ll likely find that it’s easier to read and better represents how our education about a healthy, balanced meal has evolved over the last two decades.

How can you make it work for you?
Following a balanced, healthy diet shouldn’t be hard work.  With the new plate shape, you can replicate the recommendations easily on your plate.  The plate’s visual representation reminds you to be mindful of portion sizes, and to choose your portion size of any given food group based on its nutritional value. If you follow the plate’s recommendation to make the majority of each meal vegetables, the smaller portion sizes allotted for healthy grains and proteins will be enough to leave you feeling satisfied at the end of your meal.

Paying attention to what isn’t included on the plate is as important as paying attention to what is on the plate.  For example, you’ll easily notice that there’s no room on that plate for junk food, sugar, or grease.  While moderately treating yourself to a small snack now and again is part of a balanced lifestyle, the plate shaped guide is meant to represent your goal for all meals.

The plate shaped model can also be used when you’re enjoying a restaurant meal. Just because the food is on the plate you’re served, doesn’t mean you have to eat the portion sizes served. Substituting a greasy side dish for a serving of vegetables or a side salad and finishing your vegetables before you enjoy a lean protein sets the basis for a balanced meal even outside your home.

 

What do you think?  Do you miss the pyramid or is this easier, and smarter to follow?

Just Start! 5 Easy Ways to Make Exercise a Habit

When you think about the schedule of your day to day life, you’re bound to notice the habits that you’ve formed over the course of your life. You probably eat breakfast around the same time, in the same place, while reading the same newspaper or watching the same program.  You probably let the dog out at the same time everyday and go to bed around the same time. You no longer need to remind yourself to brush your teeth before leaving the house because it’s all become a habit.russian-twists_620x350_61489651277

If you can make exercise a habit you no longer have to find time in your schedule, or try to find the motivation for getting it done.

The bad news is that creating a new habit is almost as hard as breaking a bad habit.  The good news is that’s it not impossible.  Creating an exercise habit is the foundation for consistency and a lasting, healthy lifestyle.

  1. Expect it to feel easy at first. Starting a habit requires small, daily acts of regularity. If you commit to exercising for twenty minutes every day, you’re more likely to commit to the habit formation than if you commit to a two hour workout every day.  It feels easy. Experts call this the “honeymoon phase” of habit formation.
  2. Be prepared for tougher days. Once the honeymoon phase begins to end, you may be tempted to skip a day or two.  To build a habit, though, you have to fight through the urge to result to your old habit of not exercising.  Walking into FitClub at the same time every day will help you stay consistent.  As tough as this phase is, this is your chance to start to increase the intensity or duration of your workout.  Spend an extra five to ten minutes or try a new class. The extra endorphins will help you feel rejuvenated and to remember why you started.

Choose a time of day that you’re least likely to be distracted and it will be easier to avoid unscheduled work meetings, family obligations, or personal obligations that seek to derail your daily creation. Every time you resist the old habit’s nagging insistence that you can skip a day or two you make the new, healthier habit stronger and more likely to stick.

  1. Look forward to the day you went to FitClub without even thinking about it. The ultimate goal is to make your exercise habit so strong that you no longer even need to plan for your workout.  You don’t need to plan when you brush your teeth before leaving the house, you just do it. When your workout starts to feel the same way, you’re creating healthy habits that create a healthy lifestyle. It’s during this stage that you begin to see the results that motivated you to start the healthy habit.  Staying consistent, though, is ultimately its own reward and should be celebrated as such!
  2. Prepare for regular resets. Ultimately, life happens.  Vacations may derail your commitment, you may get sick, or you may legitimately need to take a break.  Recognizing that this is just a part of life and reestablishing your commitment to regular, consistent FitClub workouts is all part of the process.  Get back on track as soon as you can and recommit to keeping your hard fought for habits.

Do you have an exercise habit?  How’d you get started?  What motivated you to see it through?

What Can You Learn From Your Sweat?

If you define a good workout based on how sweat-soaked you are at the end, you may be curious to learn what your sweat can tell you.  Sweat, at its most basic, is just your body’s way of cooling you down to avoid overheating. Think of it as your body’s natural air conditioning.  Sweat, though, is more than that. Understanding what’s in our sweat can help us better understand our bodies.excessive-sweating-485x323

  • Sweat isn’t just water. While sweat is mostly water leaving your body, one percent of sweat is a combination of salt and fat.
  • Sweat isn’t the most accurate indicator of a tough workout. There are many factors that change the amount that you sweat even when you’re doing the same exercise routine each day.  Certain medications affect the amount you sweat, as does whether or not you are properly hydrated.  Genetics may also play a factor in how much sweat you produce in day to day life. Even your current fitness level plays a role in the level of sweat you produce.  Ironically, a higher level of physical fitness produces more sweat because your body is better trained at cooling itself.  If you typically rely on sweat to tell you how hard a workout was, opt for paying attention to your breathing, heart rate, or exertion level instead for a more accurate picture.
  • Excessive sweating may lead to dehydration. If you want to use sweat as an indicator of anything during your workout, let it be a reminder to drink more water.  Dehydration will make your workout feel harder and may detrimentally impact your fitness goals.  Hydrating before, during, and after your workout with plenty of water will leave you able to push yourself harder.
  • Rehydrating with water is always your best option. Unless you’re doing two-a-day workouts or working out hard for more than an hour, you only need to replenish fluid lost through sweat with water. If your workouts take more than an hour or you workout out twice a day or more, you may want to add a drink with added electrolytes to your hydration plan. If you opt for fluids with electrolytes, be sure to read the labels.  Some electrolyte sports drinks have more calories than others.  A nutrient dense meal after your workout can also restore your body’s natural balance of electrolytes.  After a hard workout, strive to eat a meal rich in dark leafy green vegetables, nuts, tomatoes and lettuce.  A healthy salad with a variety of vegetables will replace the magnesium, sodium, and potassium that may have dripped off you at FitClub.

No matter how you feel about sweat, remember there are better ways to judge your effort.  And don’t forget to wipe down your machines after each workout!