Do You Know Your Numbers? Blood Pressure for Beginners

Although we’ve all had our blood pressure taken at some point, few people pay close attention to their blood pressure numbers until they’re told they have a high or low reading. The readings can seem complicated and easy to forget, but knowing your numbers might save your life. Blood pressure is an important component to overall health and living a healthy lifestyle and much of controlling your blood pressure is within your control right now. You just have to know what it is, what the numbers mean, and how to get control.AM0A7705

What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is measured with two numbers, known as the systolic blood pressure (the top number of your blood pressure reading) and the diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number of your blood pressure reading). Systolic blood pressure measures the pressure your blood puts upon the artery walls when your heart beats. The diastolic blood pressure measures the pressure of your blood when your heart rests between beats. Both numbers are crucial to determine your cardiovascular health.

What do the numbers mean?
The American Heart Association estimates that 33% of Americans over the age of twenty have high blood pressure. High blood pressure forces your heart and blood vessels to work harder, and less efficiently. The extra effort damages the arteries and allows cholesterol to build up within the already damaged arteries. With the buildup of plaque in the arteries, the arteries become narrower, leading to even higher blood pressure. The circular problem may lead to heart attacks, stroke, lost vision, or other serious and life threatening medical conditions.

It’s also possible to suffer from low blood pressure. Low blood pressure can be caused by dehydration, nutritional deficits, pregnancy, and certain medications. Symptoms of low blood pressure may include feeling lightheaded, dizzy, nauseous, fainting, excessive fatigue, or even depression.

Get control of your blood pressure numbers.
Because high blood pressure has no obvious symptoms, many people don’t know that they may be in danger. FitClub’s Healthy Heart Program is designed for members to know their numbers and access the resources and information they need to control their blood pressure. Located on the second floor of the FitClub South location, nurse Andrea Byrne is available to help you get started on the path to controlling your blood pressure. Andrea is available to take your blood pressure reading Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8AM to 1PM and walk you through the numbers. The program is completely voluntary and available at no extra cost to all FitClub members. FitClub’s Healthy Heart Program is one very important reason that FitClub is far more than just a gym.

When you know your numbers and understand your risk, you can start immediately with easy, natural and achievable steps to reduce your risk of living with high blood pressure. Stop in and see Andrea with our Healthy Heart Program to get your numbers this week, and next week be sure to check the blog for all the information you need to get started controlling your numbers.


5 Reasons to Spend the Holidays at FitClub This Year

Holiday commercials are already flooding the televisions and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Before your social calendar fills up with holiday events, schedule your workouts at FitClub to ensure you stay healthy and sane all holiday season long. Having trouble prioritizing your workouts over family obligations and social events? FitClub has five reasons your workout has a place in your holiday traditions.master

  1. Endorphins combat holiday stress. For some, it’s the most wonderful time of year, but the holiday season can also cause increased stress. Whether it’s the expense of buying gifts or hosting holiday celebrations or the lack of downtime that causes your stress level to rise, fitting in your workout ensures that you can manage and reduce your stress. According to Mayo Clinic, almost any form of exercise will release endorphins needed to combat stress and clear your mind. If you have a favorite exercise that always leaves you feeling accomplished and happier, this is the perfect time of year to make it a priority every day.
  2. A hard workout means more creative gifts under the tree. Exercise boosts creativity, so if you’re stuck on what to buy for the people on your shopping list, don’t over think it. Instead, get into FitClub for a workout and see if a burst of creativity leads you to a better gift idea. Research suggests that exercise can increase creativity, particularly the ability to think of “multiple solutions” for a problem. In other words, instead of having no ideas for the difficult to shop for family member on your list, you may have several creative ideas this year if you fit in a workout.
  3. A routine combats holiday weight gain. On average, Americans gain only one pound during the holiday season. The problem is that sedentary people don’t lose that pound after the holidays are over and the annual weight gain adds up. While indulgences are part of the holiday traditions for most, making sure you burn calories before you indulge not only counteracts smaller indulgences, but it also sets you in the right frame of mind to make healthy decisions even at holiday parties. When the holidays are over, your mind and body will be in peak fitness form and ready to get back on track.
  4. You maintain momentum. An extended break from your FitClub routine will have a negative impact on the endurance and strength you’ve been working hard to build. Even if you can’t commit to long workouts, make sure you are fitting in as much cardio and strength training as you can manage to maintain the momentum you’ve started to build and keep the healthy habits you’ve developed.
  5.  If you need a break this holiday season, FitClub is the perfect, healthy, justifiable place to hide. After you’ve finished your workout, you can take a short soak in the hot tub or sauna, get a massage, or stretch out your tired muscles. No one needs to know that you spent an extra twenty minutes or more relaxing when you finished your workout. Consider the personal time and enhanced peace of mind your holiday gift to yourself.

Are you planning to make your workouts a priority this holiday season? What tips are you using to ensure that you make time for yourself?

How Do You Avoid Unhealthy Temptations?

The Halloween candy may still be lying around your home or office, and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. With so many unhealthy temptations lingering about, how can you possibly avoid temptation and keep your healthy lifestyle intact? It’s not impossible! Before you give in and indulge, try FitClub’s tips for avoiding temptation and staying fit.

  1. Eat enough calories to starve out temptation. It may seem counterintuitive, but if you’re trying to avoid unhealthy temptations to lose weight or stay fit, you really do need to make sure that you’re eating enough of the right calories. If you’re calorie goals are too restrictive, your body and brain will actually be working against you when you come in to contact with unhealthy snacks. Give your body what it needs regularly throughout the day so that when you pass a tray of donuts in the office, you are full, satisfied, and capable of walking away.SF2U6N3NYBDXVBN3WRCBAJCBSM
  2. Think it through. Many of us have a tendency to immediately give in to a craving or temptation without giving ourselves enough time to let it pass. When you feel yourself craving the leftover Halloween candy, wait it out. Instead of immediately giving in, pause, drink a glass of water, or distract yourself with a task around the house or at work. If you find yourself engaged in a short task or project, you may find that you forget about the temptation lurking nearby.
  3. Keep healthy options nearby. If your friends or coworkers often snack on sugary treats, don’t let yourself feel left out. Keeping fresh fruit or vegetables handy will allow you to feel like you’re joining in, while keeping your healthy goals in mind. If you find that you turn to the vending machine every time you get hungry, ward off temptation by stockpiling healthy alternatives.
  4. Plan ahead. Holiday parties will be full of calorie bombs soon. Plan ahead to give yourself the best chance to avoiding holiday weight gain. Eat a small meal before you go or buddy up with a healthy friend before heading out to make sure your self-discipline muscle is ready for the temptations ahead. Even just reminding yourself of your commitment to a healthy life will help you walk past the desert tray.
  5. Remember your “why”. Why did you start exercising and eating healthy? Whether you were trying to set a good example for your children or worried about the medical dangers of an unhealthy lifestyle, focusing on “why” you’re committed to a healthy life is far more rewarding than giving in to temptation. Remind yourself that saying no to unhealthy temptations isn’t a punishment, but a sign of progress. Just like the other muscles in your body that have become stronger since you started at FitClub, your self-discipline muscle has grown stronger, too.
  6.  When it seems like everyone else is indulging this holiday season, running into FitClub for a group exercise class or a workout will instantly allow you to surround yourself with likeminded individuals that are all avoiding the same temptations as you. When your motivation is low and temptation is high, seeing other FitClub members all working toward their goals is a great reminder that you are not alone and we are all chasing progress together.

How do you avoid temptation? Do you have a secret weapon? Share it in the comments!

Why Start Now?

New Year’s Resolutions are less than two months away, and you might be tempted to delay your healthy goals until after the holidays and start fresh on January 1. Why start now when there’s holiday planning and heavy holiday meals ahead? What can you actually accomplish in just two months, anyway? A lot!5a9352fa-8a42-11e7-b7bc-fa1568cb40f1

  1. You can lose weight even during the holiday season. On average, people gain one pound each year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Setting healthy, realistic goals based on your body type and caloric needs, you could easily expect to avoid that one pound, and lose several more if you started a healthy lifestyle now. The problem with gaining “just one pound” during the holiday season is that sedentary people don’t lose that same pound after the holidays are over. Starting now will not only let you avoid that one holiday pound, but put you several steps ahead of holiday weight gain.
  2. By starting now, you can join your family and friends for a holiday 5K. A 5K race is 3.1 miles. While that might sound insurmountable now, if you start now and begin slowly building your endurance at FitClub in a healthy and responsible way, you could be among the many that enjoy holiday 5K races for charity in the community. Unsure where to start? Stop by the front desk at FitClub and speak to a personal trainer. Discuss your goals and be honest about your current level of fitness, and find out if you could spend your holidays in the best shape of your life.
  3. Healthy living can help you combat holiday stress. In just weeks, family and friends will fill our houses and lives for extended stays. Children will be full of sugar and anticipation of holiday parties and gifts. Expenses will pile up, and soon, adults might begin losing their holiday spirit before it even begins. Escaping to FitClub for an hour of time that you can devote solely to yourself is the perfect weapon to defeat holiday stress before it even begins. Mayo Clinic recommends “virtually any form of exercise” to improve your stress management skills. No matter how busy your social calendar is during the holiday season, prioritizing your health is the greatest gift of all. Take the opportunity to check out a new group exercise class you haven’t tried, or spend an hour burning calories and releasing endorphins to keep you both fit and sane this holiday season.
  4. Meditate on the beauty of the holiday season. Finding quiet time to reflect and enjoy the holiday season is nearly impossible. If you find yourself losing your patience in store lines, worrying about accomplishing your to do list, and trying to keep your holiday spirit in check, this is the right time to check out FitClub’s meditation class. Even a brief dose of regular meditation has been proven to reduce stress, improve relationships, and reduce anxiety. The holiday season always seems to rush past, but staying mindful and grateful will allow you the chance to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year.

Don’t wait for two months to start your new, healthy resolutions. How do you stay fit, healthy, and sane during the holidays?

How to Cope When You’re the Healthy One in Your Group

Are you the only member of your family, office, or social circle that’s committed to living a healthier lifestyle? Feeling alone in working toward a healthier lifestyle can be challenging. You don’t want to miss out on pizza night or happy hour, but you have goals and have made a commitment to living your best life. FitClub has tips to keep you healthy and social all year long.

  • Offer suggestions. If your office is planning a lunch outing to celebrate a birthday, holiday, or just to celebrate Friday, plan ahead and be prepared to offer suggestions. If the all-you-can-eat pizza buffet will be too much of a temptation for you, check around and find a restaurant with healthier options. Most restaurants make it easy to peruse the menu and calorie counts ahead of time. Instead of just declining the invitation, be prepared to offer healthier, but still delicious alternatives.
  • Be encouraging, not condescending. The people in your life probably already know that they should be eating better and exercising more. It’s no longer a secret that healthier foods and an active lifestyle lead to better health and more energy. Not everyone is as prepared as you, though, to make that commitment. If your friends insist on hitting happy hour on a regular basis, be in control of your own foods and drinks, without offending your group. You will likely find that it’s easier for people to give you a hard time about being strict with yourself than it is for them to admit that they should be, too.
  • Invite, encourage, and plan. Tired of having to turn down popcorn at the movies on girls night out? Next time, take the initiative to plan a girls’ night and invite your social circle to join you at Zumba or to check out FitClub. You can stay active, have fun, and still be social with your group. After a dance party style Zumba class, your friends may agree that it’s your new standard girls’ night out.
  • Prioritize your schedule. With the holidays around the corner, busier family schedules are inevitable. Instead of letting a busy week of work and a lot of family or social obligations become an excuse for missing your workouts, make your health the number one priority. You can’t skip a work obligation or a family dinner, but you can get up an hour earlier to make it to FitClub before your day even starts. FitClub’s variety of early morning group classes and club hours make it easy to start your day by prioritizing yourself.
  • Plan ahead. Do you have a work trip that you know will disrupt your consistent routine? Take your workout gear and fit in an early morning workout at the hotel or on a safe, well-traveled running route. FitClub has given you the basis for a healthy lifestyle and the ability to prioritize your fitness no matter where you find yourself. Don’t let a week in a hotel be an excuse to stop chasing your goals.

Are you the healthy one in your group? What tricks do you use to prioritize your health despite temptations? If you find that you’re not the healthy one in your group, use these tips to become the healthy one!

Counting Calories? What’s More Important? Quantity or Quality?

Counting calories to achieve weight loss can be confusing. Should you be placing more emphasis on the number of calories eaten or the quality of your calories? The short answer is both numbers matter in achieving optimal health and fitness.a-nutritionist-explains-why-you-should-stop-counting-calories

While one hundred calories of fruit is the same number as one hundred calories of candy, the effect on the body is dramatically different. One hundred calories of nutrient dense vegetables, fruit, or lean protein leave you feeling fuller and don’t lead to a sugar crash. One hundred calories of candy, on the other hand, will leave you just as hungry—maybe even hungrier—than you were before you indulged. A recent study by Harvard went even further to actually confirm that the quality of your calories matters more than the number of calories.

Instead of overcomplicating the science and numbers of calories, following three simple rules for counting calories will help you achieve a healthier lifestyle faster:

  1. Count all calories. The bite-sized Snickers that you sneak at the office counts. Even though it’s small and seems relatively innocent, to have a truly accurate picture of the number and quality of calories you’re eating every day you have to include even the bite-sized snacks. Even if you are allowing yourself a cheat day, cheat meal, or following the 80/20 diet, knowing your numbers over the course of a week is more important than on any one day.
  2. Prioritize healthy calories. If you’ve maxed out on your calorie allotment for the day, but you feel hungry and unsatisfied, opt for vegetables, fruits, and high-fiber foods to fill you up without causing the inevitable sugar crash. When you’re deciding what to eat, whether it’s for a snack or a meal, first consider how the foods will make you feel. A 100 calorie snack of sugar will not keep you nearly as full as 100 calories of a banana.
  3. Think long-term for long-term success. You can’t lose weight by eating fewer calories than you can burn in one day. Instead, think long-term when you’re planning your calorie count and making healthy decisions. If you have a slip or allow yourself an indulgence, don’t let it be a total setback.
  4. Read labels. Your favorite pre-packaged, heavily processed snack food might be low in calories, but what is it high in? If it’s high in sugar, artificial sweeteners, or additives you can’t pronounce, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Twenty minutes after you polish off that low-calorie snack, you’ll be just as unsatisfied and hungry as you were before you ate. Choose your snacks and meals from the outer aisles of the grocery store. When in doubt, opt for the food that does not come in the package!

How do you decide what calories to eat? Do you have a tip or trick that can make it easier for other FitClub members? Share it in the comments below!

Should You Be Afraid of Halloween (Candy)?

Whether you have children that are preparing for the big night of trick-or-treating, or you’re just stocking your pantry with candy to hand out to neighborhood kids on Halloween, this is definitely the season of small, bite-size candies. It’s tempting to have all of that candy laying around the house, and easy to convince yourself that just one small piece every now and then won’t

But, maybe it’s scarier than that. Maybe just a few bites of Halloween candy can derail all the great progress you’re making at FitClub. How afraid should you be of Halloween candy?

The tiny bite-size snacks this time of year are deceiving. They look so small and guilt-free, but the calorie count may be shocking.

  1. Bite-size chocolate candy bars can pack between 60 and 110 calories each. To burn off just one piece of bite-size chocolate candy, you need to add another 7 minutes to your run, 9 minutes of jumping jacks, or 10 minutes on the rowing machine.
  2. If you’re one of the people that indulge in candy corn this time of year, you need to add a 35-minute brisk walk to your day to burn off 20 pieces of candy corn.
  3. Staying away from the chocolate but indulging in sticky, gummy candy? Adding 16 minutes to your run will burn off the small trick-or-treat sized bags of gummies.

If you’re already living a healthy lifestyle, you can probably find the time to add a few extra minutes to your workout regimen after Halloween to burn off a piece of candy. The really scary part of Halloween, though, is that for most of us, it’s almost impossible to eat just one piece. The amount of candy left over in households after Halloween can frighten even the most disciplined person.

Stay ahead of your temptations by fueling up with a healthy dinner before heading out with trick-or-treaters or setting up your own trick-or-treat candy bowl. Fueling yourself ahead of time with a healthy mix of lean protein and vegetables will keep hunger from driving you toward that candy bowl or your child’s goodies.

If you need to indulge on Halloween when the trick-or-treating is through, try to keep it to just one piece of your favorite Halloween treat. Setting reasonable limits for yourself and kids after a night of trick-or-treating will help you avoid Halloween weight gain and keep your kids from the inevitable sugar crash. If you find that you have trouble limiting yourself to just one piece, find ways to get the candy out of the house. Consider donating candy to a local food pantry or checking out the sugar buy-back programs some dentist offices consider.

The other holidays are right around the corner and present their own unique health challenges. In the meantime, remember Halloween is just one day. Don’t let a week’s worth of candy derail the effort you’ve made all year long!