Can Exercise Ease the Grieving Process?

No matter how hard any of us try, we can’t avoid the necessary grief that comes with living.  While everyone handles grief differently, a consistent exercise program can help with the unwelcome feelings associated with grief.  Recent research suggests that exercising, either alone or with others, can help your mind begin to process your feelings and ease you through the process of grief.screen-shot-2017-05-09-at-8-05-55-am

  • A consistent exercise routine allows you to regain some sense of control. Whether you’re grieving the loss of a relationship or a loved one, it can be difficult to manage your life when it’s difficult even to get out of bed.  There is so much happening that is out of your control, but by sweating through a thirty minute workout, you can exercise control over that thirty minutes of your day.  That thirty minutes can allow you to regain sense of control over the other areas of your life like work, personal relationships, and your home.
  • Exercise repairs your immune system which is often compromised during stressful times, including those times that you experience grief. The University of North Texas ound that the nervous system of the body responds to grief as a physical attack on the body, weakening your immune system and making it more difficult to ward off germs.  Adding thirty minutes of exercise each day during stressful periods reduces your odds of getting sick by fifty percent.
  • Exercise requires that you be focused on the present. Instead of grieving the past or worrying about the future, exercise requires that you lock into the present moment to give your body what it needs and avoid injury.  Instead of mindlessly going through the motions during your exercise routine, give your mind a break from the grief by focusing on each step, each arm movement, each breath until you finish your workout.  The temporary change from being focused on your grief to being focused on a healthy activity allows you to see that better times are ahead and grief doesn’t have to hurt forever.
  • Move in a way that feels right to your body while you grieve. Grief can cause physical symptoms throughout your body, making it difficult to sleep and interrupting your desire to eat.  Instead of pushing yourself to the extreme ends of exercise, consider backing off and just move.  Allow your body to move and accept the effort you’re able to give at any given moment, even if that isn’t a killer cardio session.
  • The reason exercise makes you feel better is biochemistry. Physical exercise increases blood flow to your brain, allowing the brain to function at its best.  If grief leaves you feeling foggy, confused, or with difficulty concentrating, exercise may help alleviate those symptoms.  The release of the biochemicals that are released by exercise (endorphins and dopamine) can also help prevent clinical depression from setting in as you grieve.

If you’ve turned to exercise to cope with grief, share your recommendations in the comment section for other FitClub members.  Exercising in a supportive community can help alleviate the necessary feelings we all must weather from time to time.

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Five Easy Ways to Cut Calories and Up Your Nutrition Plan

For many of us, making it to FitClub regularly for a consistent exercise routine is the easy part.  Breaking up with bad food choices, though, can be far more difficult.  Instead of needing to make one decision each day to get your workout done, healthy eating is something that we have to decide to do over and over again throughout the day.  Instead of drowning in fad diets and science text books, FitClub has five easy ways to cut junk calories and improve your nutrition at the same time.71-do-you-drink-water-immediately-before-or-after-a-meal-ss

  • Eat the protein first. Each meal you eat should contain between twenty and thirty grams of protein.  Protein fuels your body by providing energy to your muscles and takes more calories to digest than other foods.  Not only is it an absolutely necessary macro nutrient, but it also fills you up making you less inclined to feel hungry soon after you eat.
  • Drink water before you eatWater helps to curb the feeling of hunger that often leads us to over eat.  By drinking a glass of water before your meal, you’ll feel signals from your stomach that you’re full before you otherwise might.  Not only does a glass of water before your meal make it easier to digest what you do eat, you might find that you need less food from your plate to feel fuller longer.
  • Eat the healthy foods you enjoy. Instead of going on an all kale diet when you hate kale, make your healthy meals with the foods that you love.  It’s possible that you are occasionally mistaking lack of satisfaction from your meal as hunger.  If that’s the case, experiment with different types of fruits and vegetables and then build healthy meals from the ones you like best.  Just because a food has been deemed a “super food” it will still only help you if you eat it.  If you keep buying it just to watch it exceed its expiration date because you can’t bring yourself to eat one more bite, it won’t help you!
  • Understand the way your cravings work. Deprivation diets generally don’t work, so while you can still indulge in a donut or piece of cake from time to time, be prepared with a plan that will keep you from eating the processed junk everyday.  The more often you indulge in a craving, the more you will have that same craving. Processed sugar has been proven to be addicting and it will be harder to say no to the second serving than the first.
  • Learn the difference between hunger and boredom. If you find yourself thinking of a snack in the middle of the afternoon, first determine if you’re hungry or just bored.  If you sometimes can’t tell the difference between the two feelings, the key is generally whether you want to eat an apple.  If you’re truly hungry, an apple will fill you up while delivering fiber and nutrients to your body.  If you’re bored, the vending machine at the end of the hallway will sound better.  If it’s boredom, skip the snack and take a quick walk or a mental break.

Five Reasons Fall is the Best Season for a Mental Health Checkup

If you can’t remember the last time you sat quietly and honestly reflected on your feelings and your goals, fall is the perfect time to get reacquainted with your mental health.  Find a comfortable place to sit, clear your mind, and prepare to check in with yourself.

  • The back to school rush is a memory. By now, parents and children are likely settled in to a weekday routine that is starting to feel comfortable.  Now that everyone’s certain of their responsibilities during the week, you can carve out time for a good workout to release endorphins or a meditation class to become more mindful.  Even when you’re well organized, the weeks can fly by. Learning to be more mindful while you swim laps, practice yoga or meditate can slow time down enough to enjoy the changing season.5-techniques-to-manage-autumn-anxiety-722x406
  • Summer vacations are over. Summer vacations and long, lazy days at the pool are over.  Before you resign yourself to having cabin fever until next Memorial Day, enjoying the offerings of fall can deliver huge mental health benefits.  Many fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients and minerals that your brain needs to balance hormones and process stress.
  • Colder air benefits your mental state. You might not relish the idea of switching out your summer wardrobe for sweaters and jackets, but studies show that colder air during the fall months actually sharpens your memory and clears your mind. Before you resign yourself to hibernating this winter, take advantage of the mental health benefits and take a walk to clear your head and see the changing colors.  Better yet, take a walk over to FitClub and improve your mental and physical health!
  • The smells of fall have positive effects on our brains. Scents like peppermint and cinnamon have been linked to better energy and concentration.  Those scents are in abundant supply as autumn rolls around. Adding essential oils and spices to your home can improve your mental health and help you settle in to the cozy-feeling of autumn.
  • The holidays are just around the corner. If that thought fills you with horror because it’s the busiest, most expensive, most wonderful time of the crazy year, you’re not alone.  Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, even people that don’t generally suffer from depression report feeling depressed. It’s not the happiest time of year for everyone.  If you’re someone that feels stressed or depressed during the holiday season, this is the perfect time of year to check out a FitClub yoga or meditation class to begin to cultivate coping skills you can use while you wait in long lines while you shop or stand over a hot stove preparing a holiday meal.  When the hustle and bustle arrives, you’ll be glad you took the time now to clear your head and learn to unwind.

Visit our website to see the Group Exercise schedule.

What Can You Do in Thirty Days?

It’s nearly impossible to scroll through social media or pass a magazine without seeing a “30 day challenge” guaranteed to get you the best body possible. Is it possible?  Can you really transform your body in only thirty days? What about just one body part? Can you get 6-pack abs in thirty days? If you started working on a fitness goal today and stayed consistent and dedicated for an entire thirty days, what could you realistically accomplish?gym-workout-women-shutterstock_84970741

Unfortunately, the short answer is no, you can’t get the perfect anything in 30 days. If you want to do a thirty day challenge, though, there are some important things you can accomplish.

  • You can start a habit. Thirty days of consistent exercise will help you create the lifelong habit that you need to build lasting, permanent results and a healthier lifestyle.  By making time to commit to a workout for thirty days, you’ve created a pattern in your life and learned how to prioritize that workout over other demands that pop up during the day.  Thirty days is enough time to figure out what time of day works best to avoid distractions and focus on your health.
  • You can see positive results. You may not uncover a six-pack stomach, but you will start to notice your energy levels improving, your mood more positive and better quality sleep.  While real fitness takes longer to develop, the immediate impact will be to your mental health.
  • You can get smarter in thirty days. In thirty days at FitClub, you can learn a lot about yourself and your body. You can work with a personal trainer to learn how to set reasonable, achievable goals.  You can try a variety of new classes, learn a new skill, or fall in love with a workout you never thought to try.  Consistently checking into FitClub can uncover far more information than any glossy, celebrity magazine can promise.
  • You can start to see your body differently. Do you really know what’s inside your body?  FitClub’s In-Body System can help you better understand your body’s composition, including fat to muscle ratios.  Knowing your body’s composition can tell you far more than your household scale and help you craft a plan with a personal trainer.
  • You can change the way you think about food. Crafting a thirty day workout challenge should also include a challenge to clean up your diet.  By adding more fruits and vegetables, limiting sugar and processed junk food, you can reduce water weight bloat and create healthy habits.  The immediate benefits to your physical and mental health will make it easier to stick with a healthy diet after your own thirty day challenge.

While thirty days may not radically transform your body, building your own thirty day challenge to workout at FitClub every day might begin a lifelong, radical transformation of your mental and physical health.  With enough classes to keep you guessing and motivated with convenient hours and locations, skip the magazine or social media fad and build your own thirty day challenge at FitClub.

Is it Possible to Sleep Too Much?

You know that at least eight hours of high quality sleep is ideal for achieving your healthy goals, but is it possible to sleep too much?  Yes!  Experts agree that most people need seven to eight hours of sleep for optimal health, but sleeping more than ten hours each day can lead to poor health.  Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts estimate that as much as thirty percent of American adults sleep too much.man-sleeping

Why is too much sleep a problem?
Experts are divided, but some opine that too much sleep is an indicator of poor quality of sleep.  If you’re sleeping well for eight hours, you should wake feeling refreshed and ready to start the day.  Sleeping more than eight hours is generally a sign that you’re spending a long time in bed, but not necessarily sleeping well. The combination of staying in bed too long and not sleeping well enough can lead to conditions including heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and poor mood.

How to sleep less and better.
If you fall into the 30% of American adults that sleeps too much or stays in bed too long while suffering from poor quality sleep, you can begin changing your relationship with sleep tonight.

  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule. Even on weekends and holidays, your sleep schedule should remain consistent and vary by no more than one hour in either direction.  For the same reasons that you schedule a bedtime and wake up call for your children, you need this for yourself, too.  If you feel that you need a nap, limit your nap to only thirty minutes and avoid late-afternoon napping.  The more consistent your schedule, the more likely your body is to adapt to a regular eight hours of sleep each night.
  • Incorporate healthier nighttime habits in your pre-bedtime routine. Feeling too hungry or too full, using nicotine or caffeine, or having an alcoholic drink can all alter your body’s natural ability to fall asleep.  Curtailing caffeine and heavy meals earlier in the day will help your body wind down more easily at bedtime.
  • Exercise. Exercise not only improves your mood and releases endorphins, but it also helps your body relax into a worry-free, effortless sleep at night.  Some studies suggest that exercising too closely to bedtime impairs rest, though, so schedule your workout in the morning or mid-afternoon to receive the most benefits.
  • Meditate or journal. If worries keep you from falling asleep or cause you to sleep too much, try adding meditation or journaling to your evening routine.  Freeing your mind from the constant flow of information or stress can allow you to fall asleep more easily and achieve a better quality sleep. If a lengthy to do list causes you to avoid getting out of bed in the morning, plan to start your day with a few easy tasks to jump start your day and improve your mood.

Do you sleep too much?  It can happen to anyone from time to time.  Before winter’s long, dark days descend upon us, now is the perfect time to reestablish a better, healthier sleep schedule.

What Does it Mean to Lose Water Weight?

Have you ever wondered why your weight tends to fluctuate throughout the day or day to day?  Maybe you notice that you’ve lost more pounds or gained more pounds than could possibly be true based on your calorie calculations.  That weight is generally known as “water weight”. But what is it, what does it mean, and what does it say about your overall level of fitness?weight-scale

What is “water weight”?

Our bodies are made up of fifty to sixty percent water and how much water we keep in our bodies will fluctuate based on what foods we’ve eaten and how much sweat we’ve lost in the course of any one day.  Eating excess sugar, sodium, and carbohydrates leads your body to retain water.  That retained water shows up on the scale unless you sweat it out.

Water weight is also responsible for the initial weight loss you see when you start exercising for the first time or start a new diet.  Your body is losing the water that you’ve been retaining. Once you rehydrate your body after your exercise or caloric-restriction, you’ll gain that lost water weight right back. After you’ve lost the water weight, the weight you’ll lose next if you stick with the healthy diet and exercise is fat!

Fighting water retention.

Retaining water can show up in your ankles and hands, causing a slightly swollen look. Retaining excess water can cause weight gain on the scale from five to ten pounds.  If you are trying to lose weight, controlling your body’s retention of water is a healthy side effect of regular exercise.  Any exercise that makes you sweat helps your body fight unwanted water retention that can leave you feeling bloated or puffy.

Diet is the key to controlling unwanted water weight.  Limiting the amount of refined carbohydrates (pasta and bread) and sodium is crucial to limiting unwanted water retention and losing a few pounds of water weight.  Sodium lurks in nearly every fast food, prepackaged food, and junk food.  The best way to curtail excessive sodium in your diet is cooking at home without adding salt to your food.

Oddly, not drinking enough water also makes your body retain water.  When you deprive your body of the water it needs to function at its best, it holds on to every spare bit of water you drink. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day ensures that your body can efficiently use the water it has on hand.  Foods with high water content also help keep you hydrated.  Citrus fruits, cucumbers, and celery are full of water and hydrate your body while providing key nutrients your body needs as part of a healthy diet.

Whether you want to lose a few pounds or just better understand why your body does what it does, understanding your body’s ability to retain water is crucial.  Avoiding processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and drinking plenty of water throughout the day will leave your body healthy and free of unwanted water weight.

Where Does Your Fitness Go and Where Can You Find it?

Whether you took a break for an end of summer get away or an injury sidelined you for longer than you had hoped, fitness can disappear far more quickly than we might expect.  Trying to get back into your healthy routine can leave you frustrated and disheartened when you see how much fitness you’ve lost in the time you spent away from FitClub.  The bad news is, experts believe that we begin to lose cardiovascular fitness in as little as one to two weeks. The good news is, FitClub can help you find that lost fitness and even make fitness gains when you feel like you’re starting all over.351

  • Start where you are, not where you were. If you were pushing yourself with serious workouts five days a week before you took a hiatus and lost your fitness gains, don’t expect that your body is ready to go back to those daily, intense workouts on day one.  Treat your body with the respect it deserves by paying attention to aches and pains and soreness.  If you haven’t been working out hard, the idea of delayed onset muscle soreness might be new to you all over again.  Don’t let that feeling frustrate you, instead use it as a sign that your body is responding to the challenge just like it did the first time.
  • Lower your expectations and amount of weight you’re lifting for a short while. In only a two week break in strength training, you can lose up to seven to ten percent of your strength.  Instead of risking injury by throwing yourself back into the same weight and number of reps you were lifting before your break, back up and lower the weight until you’re confident you can handle the weight and maintain good form.  If your goal is to stay fit and healthy for life, don’t risk an injury by doing too much too soon.  Use this as an opportunity to reexamine your routine and form and correct any flaws that may have been holding you back before.
  • Just get and stay moving. No matter how long you’ve been away, the key to getting your fitness back is to start moving and stay consistent.  It’s the consistency that builds a lifetime of fitness, but often the most difficult part of building consistency is getting started.  You may want to consider setting a new goal or challenge or hiring a personal trainer that can keep you motivated to begin to chase the fitness you once loved and to stay consistent in the chase.
  • Keep an eye on your diet. Often when we take an extended break from exercise, we also tend to take an extended break from minding our diets.  Take a fresh look at how you’ve been eating and whether it’s leading you closer to or further away from your fitness and health goals.  If you’ve been eating like you’ve been on vacation even after the vacation has ended, it’s probably time to reset your nutrition in addition to your fitness.