It’s OK to Like (Even Love) Yourself

It’s OK to Like (Even Love) Yourself

I once read a quote that said, “If you talk to your friends the way you talk to your body, would you have any friends left?” As a teenager that was constantly being sent messages about how my body should look, this really hit home for me. How often are we actually encouraged to like ourselves rather than search for something to change or improve upon? When’s the last time you thanked your body for something it did (maybe even just getting you through the day) instead of wishing something was different about your body? I’ll be the first to admit that my default is the latter. I have to actively try to turn off the negative body talk switch in my brain. It’s not easy and I’m not always successful with it, but I’m aware of it and that’s a step in the right direction.

I don’t believe, in our culture at least, we are taught to like our bodies. We live in a superficial society, one that glorifies certain body types and appearances to the point that anyone who doesn’t fit in is made to feel worthless. With the rise of social media, images of “ideal” bodies are more visible than ever before. Our self-worth is so entangled in our physical appearance  it is impacting our mental health. The diet industry and the media are constantly reminding us that we could be better. We could be stronger, thinner, faster…whatever the latest fad is.

What would happen if a company released a “learn to love your body in 30 days” plan instead of a “get shredded in 30 days” plan? I’m sure this has probably happened, but it didn’t catch on like fad diets do because loving yourself is so much harder than trying to change yourself.

I’ll be the first to admit that self-improvement and change are great. In fact, I crave self-improvement and actively seek it out. However, there needs to be a balance. It’s essential that we are still kind to ourselves and express gratitude for what we are now, in this moment. It’s still crucial to like (even love) ourselves while we are pursuing change. It’s a fine line to walk and can be very difficult. For some it’s very easy, but I would guess it takes frequent reminders and work for most people. A simple post-it note on your mirror with a positive affirmation can keep you from engaging in negative self-talk and boost your mood instead.

I’ve listened to numerous podcasts about self-love, body image, etc. I think the concept of self-love is amazing and an incredible thing to strive for, but it isn’t easy. Self-love is especially difficult for girls and women that have been sent incessant messages related to changing their bodies since they were in diapers. If self-love seems too unattainable, consider  self-appreciation instead. For example, maybe you don’t love your legs, because you can never find pants that fit them properly, people have told you that they are “big”, or you don’t have the ridiculously sought after “thigh gap” (why this matters so much to us, I have no idea!). Your feelings are valid, whatever the reason is, but let’s say your legs also allowed you to go on an amazing hike to a beautiful lake that made your body and mind feel rejuvenated. You don’t have to love your legs for getting you there, but you can appreciate their ability to get you up the mountain while enduring scrapes, bug bites and dirt.

Self-appreciation allows us to realize all of the amazing things, minor or major, our bodies do for us on a daily basis. It allows you to turn the kindness you give to others inwards. Similar to how we acknowledge people’s good qualities in order to appreciate them, we need to consciously acknowledge our own positive features. This can be harder to do on ourselves though, because we are typically focused on our own flaws. For example, when we get positive and constructive criticism, we tend to spend most of our time dwelling on the areas for improvement rather than celebrating what we did well. This is especially common when we have conversations with ourselves about our bodies. Rarely do we focus on what our body has done well. However, our bodies have been with us through every part of life since day one. It’s time we show them some appreciation.

Here are 3 tips to help you start incorporating body appreciation into your life today:

  1. Practice positive body affirmations: Thank your body throughout the day, talk to it and give it permission to relax. Send love to the areas of your body that you’ve felt unhappy or embarrassed about. Say something kind about that area then release them and allow them to be relaxed and happy.
  2. Follow body-positive social media accounts: Regardless of whether we know it is happening, we are internalizing what we see on social media. If you are following people that are constantly posting about how they are trying to change their body composition, you will likely internalize their thoughts and find something to change about yourself. Instead, follow people that celebrate their bodies and share positive messages of appreciation.
  3. Give compliments that aren’t appearance based: How frequently do you tell someone that they look really happy instead of commenting on their physical appearance? This one is really hard to do, but forces you to give more thoughtful compliments and helps you think of other ways to talk to yourself throughout the day.

Change Takes Time – Tips to Stay Consistent

Change Takes Time – Tips to Stay Consistent

We live in a world of instant gratification. Amazon sells buttons that you can put on items (example: laundry detergent) to automatically reorder them, you can get frozen yogurt delivered to your door without leaving your house, and you can watch television on demand. These convenient and efficient systems usually add value to your life. However, not all change happens instantaneously. Unfortunately, you can’t press a button to automatically change a habit, because behavior change takes time.

Regardless of what an ad on Facebook tells you, there is no quick fix to change your health and wellness behaviors. If there was, the weight loss and diet industry would not be worth $72 billion in the United States. Unfortunately, these companies are extremely strategic with their marketing strategies and provide people hope that change can happen quickly. This usually results in a “yo-yo” or “on-off” approach to health and wellness.

Everyone has been there. You start something new and do really well with it for a short period of time then stop or “fall off the wagon”. It happens to everyone. The problem with most of these programs is that they promote unrealistic changes rather than feasible lifestyle behavior changes. Also, they guarantee people results immediately and that is NOT realistic. The best way to see lasting results is to consistently and safely make small habit and behavior changes.

Here are some tips on how to stay consistent and see long lasting behavior change:

Focus on How You’re Feeling, Not what the Scale Says

If you’re trying to change a behavior related to your body composition, that scale can be your worst enemy. If you expect to see change immediately, it is incredibly easy to get discouraged when the scale doesn’t show the number you want. Consistency is the biggest determinant of long term change, and not seeing immediate changes can really impede your ability to continue with a behavior. There are so many factors that influence body composition, so using a scale should not be your primary way to monitor change.

Rather than focusing on the number on the scale, use how you’re feeling to gauge change. Do you have more energy throughout the day? Do you feel more confident, because you lifted a barbell with plates overhead for your first time? That’s huge! Focus on those accomplishments, because they are what will motivate you to continue long term and stay consistent.

Add or Pair, Don’t Take Away

Many diets or recommendations tell people to remove things from their lives to see change. We tend to focus on stopping our ‘bad habits’ and replacing them with new ‘good habits’. While this may work for some people, it can be very difficult to put into practice and see successful immediately. This may result in frustration and feelings of failure, which may lead someone to give up on changing the behavior.

Rather, consider adding new habits to your life rather than taking away old habits. In time, these new habits will likely replace your older habits that you originally wanted to change. If they don’t, at least you have added something beneficial to your life. For example, let’s say you drink soda with every meal and want to start drinking water instead. Rather than eliminating soda completely, you could add a glass of water with the soda. Once you get in the habit of always having a glass of water with the soda and the meal, you could take away the soda from one meal then eventually another. This process will lead you to feel more successful with this behavior change and you will be less likely to give up.

Keep It Simple – One Change at a Time

Another obstacle to creating lasting change is taking on too much change at once. When you get excited about making change, it’s common to want to change everything at once. However, tackling everything at once rarely works. Behavior change takes energy, both mentally and physically, and you only have so much energy to dedicate to all aspects of your life.

Identify habits, only one or two, that take the shortest amount of time to change but will have the biggest impact to focus on first. This will give you confidence in your ability to tackle larger behavior changes that may take more energy and time. For example, you are likely to experience immediate effects from integrating more movement into your day. If you haven’t been active, try adding a 30 minute walk to your day or going to a Get Fit Strength and Conditioning class 2-3 times per week. Sleep is another behavior that you will notice the impact of immediately and doesn’t involve any monetary investment or major changes. If you are typically on your phone or watch TV before bed, try reading a book instead. This will improve your quality of sleep, which will allow you to feel more rested when you wake up.

Change Your Mindset

You can’t be successful at everything, all of the time. That’s what makes you human. To assume you will be perfect at something 100% of the time is just setting yourself up for failure. You are not failing at something just because you aren’t doing it perfectly, so don’t tell yourself that you should give up. Success for you will look different than success for someone else trying to change the same behavior. The most important thing is to do the best you can most of the time.

It’s easy to get discouraged and give up on something, if it doesn’t go as planned. However, learning how to change your mindset and the way you talk to yourself about behavior change can have a huge impact on your long term success. If you’re trying to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet and go a whole weekend without eating any, don’t use that a reason to think you failed and should just give up. Rather, ask yourself, “What could I have done differently?” Changing behaviors is a constant learning process and having positive conversations with yourself is incredibly powerful for long term change.

Next time you want to change a behavior or join a new workout program, remember these tips and more importantly than anything, be patient and trust the process. Your coaches know what they are doing and want the best for you. Give yourself time to notice change and focus on how you feel. At the end of the day, how we feel on the inside is much more important than what you see on the outside.

Take your Summer to the Next Level with Get Fit Strength and Conditioning!

Take your Summer to the Next Level with Get Fit Strength and Conditioning!

You may have noticed some new changes around Get Fit Strength and Conditioning lately. If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, get to class ASAP, because it’s pretty hard not to notice the amazing new space, equipment and proud smile on Coach Liz’s face when she talks about the exciting new opportunities she’s created for members. Coming into a new space provides energy for growth and change, for the program and for the members. This is a great time to embrace these new opportunities and take your summer to the next level by trying something different and challenging yourself. Here is an overview of the incredible options GFSC is offering to take your summer to the next level:

Sizzlin’ Summer Challenge

Have you been wanting to make a change but aren’t sure where to start? Do you want to be motivated and held accountable by coaches and peers? If so, the Sizzlin’ Summer challenge is for you! This program is designed to support you in your fitness journey every step of the way. From weekly communication to in-person check-in’s and small group training, this challenge will help you identify what your body needs to feel it’s best. 

All you have to do for the challenge is show up to at least 24 workouts during the 8 week time period. That averages out to three workouts per week, which is three hours of your entire week. I have faith that you can find three hours in your week to dedicate to yourself, because you are worth it. Are you ready to learn more? Check out this flyer and make sure you register by July 15!

New Equipment

Along with a much larger room to get sweaty and strong in, we also have a bunch of new equipment to play with. You may have walked in and thought to yourself, what the heck is that thing when you looked at the SkiErg or wondered who in the world is going to be lifting the heavier kettlebells. These are all examples of opportunities to challenge yourself and try something different! With the larger space and new equipment, the coaches can expand programming and try new exercises, which gives you the opportunity to grow and challenge your body in new ways. If you aren’t sure about how to use some of the new equipment, checkout these short guides below: 

  1. SkiErg: The SkiErg is incredible, because it gives you a total body workout and will improve your power, strength, and endurance. When done correctly, it works the lats, triceps, abdominals, pecs, biceps, quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and lower back. The intensity varies with your effort: the harder you pull, the greater the intensity. Additionally, this is a functional movement, because it mimics the everyday action of bending down and picking things up – yay for exercises that resemble real life movements! To use the SkiErg:
    1. Stand tall facing the machine with feet hip-width apart, arms extended up gripping the handles with your palms faced towards each other.
    2. Hinge at the hips with a slight bend in your knees and push through your glutes as you pull the handles down keeping your arms straight. 
    3. Keep pulling the handles down in a fluid motion until arms swing back past thighs.
    4. Activate glutes, push hips forward to rise back up (similar movement to a kettlebell swing) and return arms back to start.

If you’re more of a visual learner, watch this video. It may take a few tries to get this movement right. As your learning how to use this machine, keep in mind that you want to avoid:

  • Squatting: It’s a hip hinge, not a squat.
  • Dropping your chest: You do not want your torso to be fully horizontal or parallel to the floor. 
  • Looking up: Keep your chin tucked to reduce the strain on your neck.
  1. Sled push: The new grass area brings opportunities for plate pushes and pulls and sled pushes! Sled pushing is a great low-impact exercise to increase your heart rate and strengthen your core and lower body. 
  1. Rings: We’ve always had the rings on the racks, but now we have longer rings that you can master the muscle up on! You may have never thought that you could do a muscle up, but now you have the opportunity to learn. Use this as an opportunity to challenge yourself in a new way. You’ll be amazed at what your body can do!  

Saturday Pool Workouts 

Are you ready for an entirely new challenge? Come to one of the new Saturday pool workouts to change up your routine and get an entirely new workout.  I took a two hour nap after the first time I went to a GFSC pool workout. Water is harder than it looks! You do not have to be an expert swimmer to enjoy this class. If you can swim one lap across the pool then you will be perfectly fine in this class. Follow GFSC on Facebook to stay tuned about the first pool workout!

Get Fit Challenge 

Signing up for a race or a competition is a great way to take your fitness journey to the next level. The Get Fit Challenge will challenge you both mentally and physically, but is very doable for any athlete with GFSC! It’s amazing what your body can do when you believe in it and push its limits. Preparing for the Get Fit Challenge is great, because it forces you to cross train. While coming to class will help with the strength portion of the challenge, you will need to practice swimming and biking outside of class. Biking and swimming are great low-impact ways to move your body on the days you don’t come to class. Rather than approaching this challenge from a competitive standpoint, simply consider finishing it a huge accomplishment. Do it for the fun of it and to be part of a community that is supporting each other to push their personal limits. For more information and to register for the challenge, visit www.gfdsport.com

Exercising to Prevent Osteoporosis

Exercising to Prevent Osteoporosis

We all know that lifting weights makes you stronger. You’ve probably even noticed your strength improving after only a few weeks at Get Fit Strength and Conditioning. Feeling strong is incredible. It makes it easier to do daily activities, it positively impacts your mental health and increases your confidence. Did you know that strong muscles also lead to strong bones? Just add that to the list of all the amazing things that strength training and increasing your muscle mass does for your body. By having stronger bones, you can help minimize the risk of fracture due to osteoporosis.

While osteoporosis is not the most glamorous of topics, it deserves our attention. Osteoporosis, a bone-weakening disorder, is estimated to cause 1.5 million fractures annually in the United States in people aged 50 and older. There are many factors conspiring against you that contribute to osteoporosis: age-related changes, inactivity, and not getting enough nutrients in your diet are the top three culprits that lead to a decline in bone mass. Your bone density declines by approximately 1% every year after you turn 40 years old. As your bone mass declines, your bones become more fragile and are susceptible to fracture. Ultimately, injuries you experience from osteoporosis can severely impair your mobility and independence.

While the numbers are terrifying, don’t frantically turn to Google to start diagnosing yourself. First of all, if you are already coming to Get Fit Strength and Conditioning then you are taking a huge step in preventing or delaying osteoporosis. Physical activity, particularly muscle-strengthening and impact exercises, are incredibly beneficial for bone health. While muscle-strengthening and impact exercises help strengthen your bones, other types of movement are designed to improve your balance — which can help prevent falls. Here is a guide to the type of movements you should be incorporating to prevent or delay osteoporosis:

Weight-bearing exercises are types of movement that force your body to work against gravity. Most impact exercises like burpees, running, dancing, jumping rope, etc. are considered weight-bearing exercises. Similar to how weight lifting puts stress on your muscles and causes your muscle fibers to regrow, weight-bearing exercises provide mechanical stimuli to your bones. The pushing and tugging that occurs during impact activities nudges your bone-forming cells into action, which creates stronger, denser bones. So next time you are cursing the coach when you see burpees on the board, remember that your bones will benefit from them even if you despise the movement.

While weight-bearing exercises are key to improving bone density, it is important to do the movements that work best for your body. Talk with a coach at Get Fit Strength and Conditioning if you want to add in more impact exercises, but have injuries that you need to work around. There are always alternate ways to do an exercise!

Muscle-Strengthening Exercises work like the weight-bearing exercises in that they provide stress to your bones to stimulate growth. Large movements that involve multiple muscle groups, like the squat and deadlift, are most effective for maintaining bone density. It’s essential that you are lifting enough weight to stimulate your muscles and bones, so choose a weight that is challenging but will not result in injury. We are usually a lot stronger than we think we are!

If you already have osteoporosis, you may think that muscle-strengthening exercises might be dangerous or lead to fracture. While everybody is different, exercising (resistance training in particular) is critical in maintaining bone density for people with osteoporosis. However, it is best to consult with a medical professional if you aren’t sure what the best type of movement is for your body given your own amount of bone loss.

Balance exercises like lunges, sit to stands, tree pose and bird dogs strengthen your core and other muscles which improves your ability to hold yourself upright to prevent falls. Balance is essential, because it will help you prevent falls in the first place. When doing balance exercises, you want to think about engaging your stomach muscles and glutes. If you feel wobbly at first, try doing the exercises next to a wall and put a finger on the wall for support.

Flexibility exercises keep your muscles loose and joints mobile. This allows your body to be more agile and move more freely. As tempting as it is to leave class immediately after the timer rings, stretching after your workout is crucial for improving flexibility. If you aren’t able to stay to stretch, try a stretching or yoga video on YouTube before you go to bed. It can be a great way to unwind from the day and you’ll wake up with much happier muscles!

Classes at Get Fit are unique, because they combine all four of these components into nearly every workout. High-intensity resistance training, which is very common in our classes, allows your body to improve strength and balance and increase muscle mass all at the same time. Rather than having to plan multiple types of movement, you can come to class and know that the coaches are incorporating all of these aspects into the workout. Your role is to show up, challenge yourself and give each workout your best, because your muscles, bones and brain deserve it!

Hydrate to Feel Great – 6 Tasty Hydration Hacks!

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Hydrate to Feel Great

Getting enough sleep and staying hydrated are crucial for your health, and sleep and hydration become even more important when you exercise. In fact, they are the key to getting stronger. Yes, that’s right, coming to the gym 7 days a week without resting will not make you stronger. It will make you depleted and tired. When you lift weights, your body is tearing muscles. What you do after you exercise (eat a nourishing meal, drink plenty of water and sleep) will help your body regain strength and recover.

We can probably all agree that we would sleep more if we could, but those pesky things like kids, jobs, and pets can make it difficult to get the recommended 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night. We can have more control over staying hydrated every day and that has a huge impact on your health. In fact, hydration is one of the foundations to staying healthy, but can often be forgotten about. Regularly drinking water supports healthy digestion and kidney function, improves brain function, helps prevent headaches and increases energy.

How can I stay hydrated?

It is important to keep yourself properly hydrated even before signs of dehydration begin to appear. There are many varying opinions on the amount of water people need.  Since everybody is unique, everyone needs a different amount of water per day. The amount of water you need is based on many factors including your gender, height, weight and activity level. The color of your urine can help you determine your hydration level. If your urine is very light yellow (like diluted lemonade) and has little odor, you’re well hydrated. The darker and more aromatic your urine, the more dehydrated you are.

The research is inconclusive, so there are multiple guidelines about hydration. You may have heard that you should:

Drink water when you’re thirsty

Drink 64 ounces of water a day (eight 8 ounce glasses)

Divide your bodyweight in half and drink that amount in ounces

While guidelines are helpful, I encourage you to find something that works well for you. Remembering to carry a reusable water bottle and refill it often is an easy way to stay hydrated. However, drinking water is not the only way to stay hydrated. Here are six hacks to make staying hydrated fun and tasty:

Freeze It

Who doesn’t love ice pops? Blend or juice hydrating foods like watermelon, lemons, blueberries and raspberries. Fill a solo cup and freeze for about an hour. You can even add coconut water for an added boost of electrolytes.

Infuse It

A great alternative to sugary sweetened beverages is infused water. You can infuse your water with your favorite fruits and vegetables like strawberries, blueberries, cucumbers and even herbs like mint. This will make your water tastier and add nutrients and electrolytes. Slice your fruit, vegetable or herbs of choice, add it to a jug of water, let it sit overnight, and it’s ready to go!

Brew It

Brew yourself a cup tea. Good options include chamomile, peppermint or green tea. If hot tea and hot weather don’t sound good together, cool them in the fridge for a refreshing iced tea. There is no limit to the varieties you can drink, but keep in mind that some highly caffeinated teas are actually dehydrating. Mix them up so that you’re never bored with the taste!

Blend It

Make a smoothie with high water content fruits and vegetables including strawberries, oranges, peaches, pineapples, plums, raspberries, spinach, zucchini and watermelon. To increase your water consumption even more, try adding just water or coconut water instead of milk. Coconut contains electrolytes that work to restore our fluid balance.

Eat It

Satisfy your thirst by snacking on water-packed fruits and vegetables throughout the day. For breakfast, try fruit and oatmeal. When you make a bowl of oatmeal, the oats soak up the water or milk that you use to cook it, creating a hydrating breakfast option. For lunch or dinner, try adding a side salad made with spinach, cucumbers and tomatoes, which are all at least 90 percent water.

Schedule It

Let’s face it, drinking water might not be the most important thing on your mind during the day. In fact, it’s probably the last. If you can’t remember to drink water, then find a way to remind yourself. Set a reminder on your phone, use an app or put sticky notes in locations that you spend a lot of time. Do something in your environment to help remind you to stay hydrated throughout the day.

What can happen if you are dehydrated?

Dehydration occurs when your body does not have enough water to maintain its usual functions. This happens when your water intake is not enough to replace your water loss. Excessive sweating, intense breathing due to vigorous activities, and hot weather can cause dehydration. Other common causes include vomiting, diarrhea, and fevers.

When dehydrated, the fluid loss causes a drop in blood volume, which makes your heart need to work harder to push oxygen and nutrients through the bloodstream to the brain and muscles.

This physiological response is why being dehydrated can have a significant negative impact on your physical and mental performance. Even mild dehydration can reduce concentration and energy, and  increase perception of exertion, greater fatigue and negative mood changes. So, if you find yourself constantly tired and unfocused – despite adequate sleep, have a look at your water intake.

Keepin It Simple Meal Planning

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Keepin’ it Simple Meal Planning

With spring around the corner (hopefully), the nicer weather is drawing us outside and adding more evening activities to our schedules. While being outside is lovely, it usually means that we have less time to prepare dinner. This leaves the nagging question popping in your head at 5 o’clock – “What are we having for dinner?”

Meal planning and prepping has been all the rage on Pinterest for years now, so this concept is no surprise to many people. Despite the amount of attention it has received, it can still be a difficult concept to master and regularly integrate into your life. I believe this is mostly because we assume there is a one-size-fits-all approach and get intimidated by people’s pictures of ridiculously clean, organized fridges with color-coded tupperware containers. While it looks lovely, it isn’t realistic for people that don’t want to spend a bazillion hours in the kitchen. Instead, I urge you to keep it simple and find what works best for you. I’m going to offer multiple strategies below, but that doesn’t mean you have to try everything. If something catches your eye, try it. If not, don’t. You do you.

Start small.

When I first began meal planning, I only planned my dinners. I was in grad school, so I had a more flexible schedule when it came to breakfast and lunch. Eventually, I realized that life would be a lot easier if I also had a plan for breakfast and lunch. Since I already had the hang of planning dinner, adding two more meals wasn’t that overwhelming. It would have been too much to start planning all 3 meals in the beginning though.

Find a method that works for you.

I go back and forth between writing everything down and using Google Drive to record our meal plans. I created a template that I insert the meals, sale items and grocery list into weekly. I like the Google Drive method, because I can access it from my phone for grocery shopping. I’ve also had way fewer “Crap I forgot the list moments!” since I started using this method. It can also be fun to involve friends and family by creating a shared meal plan folder. Life is much easier when we create community!

Look at your schedule.

The first thing I do is check our schedule for the following week and plan our meals around our lives. It seems intuitive, but I didn’t do this when I first started and there were multiple times I would have a lengthy recipe planned for a night when I didn’t get home until 8pm. It was not ideal.

Shop your kitchen first.

I despise throwing food away and buying food that I already have, so I always scan our pantry, fridge and freezer before writing down the items I need to buy from the store. I try to plan my meals around these ingredients, rather than picking a meal that requires that I buy tons of new ingredients. This helps save money and reduces food waste.

Set a budget.

I love grocery shopping and could easily do some serious damage and spend countless hours perusing the aisles. However, I also enjoy saving money, so I go into the store knowing how much I want to spend.

Choose your meals.

This is likely the most difficult and time consuming part of meal planning. You could easily spend hours looking up recipes, but I urge you to not go down that rabbit hole. Instead, try some of these tips:

Make a bigger, versatile meal on Sunday and/or Monday. My cooking motivation is at its peak during the beginning of the week, so I try to make bigger meals that give us lots of leftovers I can use for lunches or in other meals throughout the week. It usually involves some sort of meat, a plethora of roasted or grilled veggies, potatoes or a grain.

Theme a night. Let’s be real, sometimes you just get tired of meal planning. We’ve found that having a themed night makes the process more exciting. We go through different phases and are currently on “Restaurant Meals” (Kevin’s idea). Once a week we are trying to recreate our favorite restaurant meals at home. This is a great way to get out of your comfort zone and learn new cooking techniques! I included an example of a themed menu template below.

Sunday = Roast chicken night

Monday = Salad night

Tuesday = Taco night

Wednesday = Breakfast for dinner night

Thursday = Soup night

Friday = Pizza night

Saturday = Leftovers/Get rid of food that’s going to go bad night

Know your tendencies.

By the time Thursday night rolls around, I could really care less about making some fabulous meal. I want to be in and out of the kitchen in 20-30 minutes. I’ve learned to only plan very simple meals like salads, omelettes, sandwiches, etc. on Thursday nights. If I had something extravagant planned, we would likely end up getting takeout.

Choose 1-2 flexible meals. Life doesn’t always go as planned. Sometimes whatever you planned just doesn’t sound good or something comes up last minute that doesn’t allow you to prepare dinner. I like having 1-2 flexible meals that I can push to the next week without worrying about the ingredients going bad.

Go shopping!

For me, this is the most enjoyable part of the whole process. The important part here is to stick to your list. It is so easy to throw that random item in the cart that you don’t really need. Doing this multiple times will lead to me blowing the grocery budget. My strategy to combat this is to do one lap around the store only getting the items on my list, then I allow myself to go back and get those spontaneous items. Usually, my basket is so full at this point and my arm feels like it is going to fall off, so I just decide to go checkout. (Side note- Use a basket if you are only shopping for 1 or 2 people. You will buy less and get an arm workout). Another option is getting your groceries delivered! By getting your groceries delivered, you reduce the likelihood of having impulse purchases and you save time for other activities that you might actually enjoy doing. Some of my favorite grocery delivery services are Imperfect Produce and Butcher Box.

Give Yourself Some Grace.

I don’t think there has ever been a week when our meals went 100% according to the plan. Sometimes I forget to buy something at the store and we have to improvise, or something comes up last minute and we have to make something else. It’s life! So, I urge you to give yourself some grace and know that it’s ok if your meal plan doesn’t work out perfectly. Use each week as a learning experience to identify what you can change in the future and try to accept that we can’t control everything. Life happens.

Do you have a meal planning strategy that works well for you and your family? Share below!

Staying Active while Recovering from an Injury

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Staying Active while Recovering from an Injury

You’ve been going to the gym consistently, and you’re getting stronger and feeling great. Then, one day you realize something doesn’t feel right. It could be that your shoulder feels funky when you lift your arms overhead, or your lower back is throbbing. Whatever it is, you know that you are experiencing some sort of injury and your heart immediately sinks.

Despite any efforts to avoid injuries, they can happen when you least expect it. Heck, I injured my thumb just the other day from binge reading a book on my phone (yes, I felt quite ridiculous admitting that). As someone who has had pretty much every injury known possible, I assure you that an injury is not the end of the world. While getting injured is frustrating, it doesn’t mean you have to put your training program on hold or even forget about it all together.

The key to staying active while healing from an injury is finding the opportunities for movement that works for your body. Yes, you may have to get creative and start thinking outside of the box, but it isn’t impossible. Look for the opportunity in the obstacle – maybe this is a time for you to try something new or spend time perfecting a new movement, like a pull-up if you are unable to do lower body movements. If you have a shoulder injury that makes back squats painful, you may be able to try front squats instead. Take this opportunity to strengthen a weakness and become a more well rounded athlete!

One of the huge benefits of the GFSC program is that we have an ideal coach to athlete ratio. You are not lost in a sea of people. The coaches know who you are and know your needs, so they can tailor your workout to what works for you. It is critical that you let them know when something is feeling off or if you’ve experienced previous injuries, because they can modify a workout to fit your needs. If something doesn’t feel right, do not, I repeat, do not work through the pain. That will not help it get any better. It will only cause more damage and make it worse. You need to stop doing any movements that cause you pain until you are healed. The coaches can’t read your mind though, so be vocal and let them know that you need a modification or a new exercise altogether. You don’t have to do the same movement as everyone else. The most important thing is just that you are moving your body.

If you aren’t sure what is injured or what your limitations are, I recommend seeking help from a medical professional. Build yourself a team of people that are helping you recover from the injury, so you can return to your normal level of activity as quickly as possible. It’s important to remember that injuries vary in type and severity and affect people differently. It may be much easier for some people to recover from an injury than it is for you. As hard as it is, try not to compare yourself to others. Tune into your body and listen to it’s needs.

Your mental strength is instrumental to recovering from an injury. Getting frustrated is normal, but you can’t let this set back hold you down. Having a positive and patient mindset is critical to helping you maintain both your physical and mental health during an injury. If you’ve been active for a while or just recently got started with a new type of movement, the activity withdrawal is real. You may use your workouts to decrease stress and boost your energy, so you may be feeling anxious about not being able to do your regular workouts. Personally, being in GFSC classes is my happy place. I instantly feel better when I walk through the doors and get to be with the other members and coaches. I notice a change in my mental health if I am not able to go to class for a while. After experiencing many injuries, I’ve learned that I still need to go to class and just do what I can do for the time being. It helps my mental health and makes it easier for me to jump back into class once I’m healed.

I encourage you to not let an injury keep you from going to class, if you are able. Even if you are stretching or doing physical therapy exercises during the whole class, you are still staying in the routine of going to class. Just remember to be vocal and let the coaches know what you need, because they are here for you at any point of your journey at Get Fit Strength and Conditioning!

Falling In Love with Excercise

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Falling in Love with Exercise

People seem to have mixed feelings about Valentine’s Day – some people love it and some people avoid it like the plague. If you fall in the “avoid” category and believe it’s a hallmark holiday, you still can’t escape it. Love is buzzing around this month. Instead of dodging cupid’s arrows left and right, I have a new way for you to embrace Valentine’s Day.

The focus on Valentine’s Day seems to always be placed people, and I think it is time to challenge that. What if we focus on something that will benefit you personally – something that makes you feel empowered, strong and like you can conquer the world? It’s never going to stand you up, turn you down or leave empty cereal boxes in the cupboard. Yes, I’m proposing that we all fall in love with exercise this Valentine’s Day.

You may be thinking, how in the hell can I fall in love with exercise when I dread the thought of even doing it? Hear me out. I’m frequently told that the amount that I enjoy exercise is not normal. For me, being active has always been part of my life. Whether it was running around the hills of Lake Berryessa as a kid, playing sports or going with my mom to group exercise classes, I was always moving my body in some way. At the time, I didn’t realize I was developing a lifelong habit. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized how important exercise is for my physical and mental health. I notice a difference in my mood and stress levels when I don’t move my body. For me, that has been my motivation to continue the habit I learned as a kid, so I try to move by body daily in a way that brings me joy.

To fall in love with exercise, you need to find something you don’t hate and find a “why” that’s meaningful to you and not related to your weight. While changing your body composition may be a welcomed extra benefit of exercise, it probably won’t help you fall in love with exercise long term. Changing your body composition takes time and involves many factors besides exercise. So instead of stepping on the scale, ask yourself how you feel and how you’d like to feel. Exercise has many physical and emotional benefits that you will feel right away, and it is more effective to focus on those changes. For example, exercise will:

  • Improve your sleep
  • Help you manage stress
  • Boost your mood
  • Improve your cognitive functioning
  • Decrease anxiety
  • Help you manage depression
  • Improve your balance and coordination
  • Strengthen your immune system
  • Improve your confidence
  • Decrease blood pressure
  • Improve your posture and bone density
  • Increase your productivity

Surely you can find something from that list that resonates with you. Focus on that benefit next time you exercise and really pay attention to how it impacts your mind and body.

Life seems to get busier by the day and there are so many competing time commitments. If you don’t enjoy the type of exercise you are doing, you are not going to make time for it. It’s as simple as that. Personally, I don’t enjoy indoor spin classes one bit. I don’t understand how pedaling so hard, yet staying in the same place can be fun. I would choose to clean the bathroom instead of going to a spin class. On the other hand, I love lifting weights. I make time in my day to attend classes at Get Fit Strength and Conditioning, because it makes me happy, energetic and confident. The only reason I get up early to go to class is because I know it will make my day better. If I didn’t enjoy it, there’s no way I would leave my comfortable and warm bed at 5am. So, ask yourself, do I enjoy what I’m doing right now? If not, explore something else!

Most importantly, listen to your body. Notice how it responds to different kinds of movement. Don’t force yourself to do something if it doesn’t make you feel good. Recognize when your body needs a challenge and when it needs to rest. Just like in relationships with people, building in balance and knowing your boundaries with exercise is critical to preventing injuries and burnout. Too much of something, even when it’s generally good for you, can have negative effects. Restorative exercise like walking and yoga is just as important as exercise that gets your heart pumping.

In case I haven’t convinced you to start a sizzlin’ romance with exercise yet, here are some first hand experiences from our athletes from the amazing community at Get Fit Strength and Conditioning. After reading about their journey to falling in love with exercise, I encourage you to reflect on your own path. Maybe you don’t feel like you are 100% there yet and that’s ok! Life isn’t a cheesy movie, so it’s not that common to fall in love at first sight. Exercise might take some time to win you over, but be patient and stick with it. I promise it’s worth it.

Allan Sarmiento Perotti, attends mostly evening classes

“Getting healthy and being able to run around with the kids is my motivation to exercise.  I also coach sports, so being able to keep up with my son’s team and run laps with them or have the energy to play with them helps. During the fitness challenge, I was motivated by my wife and everyone that was there. The other athletes, coaches and staff were so encouraging that I enjoyed it and made it easier to make it part of my daily routine. I was going almost every day and I wasn’t dreading it. It was such a turning point for me. I love exercise because it makes me feel really good. Some of the unexpected benefits are just that my overall moods are better.  I also have many new friends! That was the best part, improving relationships with not just my family, but friends”

Marina Valle, attends mostly morning classes

“I am a mother of three kids and also the primary caregiver to my family. I would like to say that my family is my motivation, but in reality I have intrinsic reasons to workout. I am predisposed to develop diabetes and high blood pressure, due to my genetics/family history, but both conditions are preventable. My goal is to hold them at bay for several more decades. I feel that working out and being the healthiest (mentally and physically) version of myself is a responsibility I first and foremost owe to myself followed, of course, by my family. I have made exercise part of my self-care plan, because I tend to feel happier when I get my workouts done. It’s not perfect and I sometimes miss a workout or two due to life’s unexpected curve balls. I always return to the gym and when I do, I’m welcomed with warm smiles and great workouts

I trust the coaches and the program that exists at Get Fit Strength and Conditioning. I love walking into the gym and not needing to think about my workout. That makes it easy for me to roll out of bed at 4:30 a.m and head to the gym. The people that I have met in class serve as a motivator as well. We don’t hangout outside of class, but I consider these people friends. We see each other everyday and encourage each other to push ourselves to achieve our goals. Over the years, I’ve become stronger and confident in my movements. This past holiday season the gym started a “push challenge” to help us be more consistent with our workouts. I think it was a great way to build community. Several of us would text and encourage each other to get out of bed and show up early in the mornings. We still check in with each other if we’re not in class. This workout community helps with accountability and consistency.

Working out has become part of my daily routine. When I can’t workout because life happens, I miss it. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment when I use heavier weights or earn a faster time than prior workouts. Getting up most days at 4:30 a.m is no easy task, but the community that I’ve become a member of helps to make it a tad bit easier to roll out of bed. I can honestly say that I’ve never regretted showing up and working hard.”

Dominique Sarmiento Perotti, attends mostly evening classes

“My motivation to exercise is is how I feel about myself. I like how I feel more confident when I’m around other people. I think about my kids and how they deserve a mom that can run around with them and play sports with them. When I started going to the gym, I was exhausted all the time. I felt challenged in my personal life and the things going on. I realized I loved exercise when I would be so busy and I couldn’t get to the gym that day, yet miss it so much. I recently got hurt a few months ago and the only work out I’ve been able to do is light unloading exercises and walking. It was really the pivotal moment for me where I realized that I didn’t just love any exercises, I loved being in a group setting that challenged me and made me feel like I was making progress to my fitness goals

The unexpected benefits for me was I didn’t feel winded walking up stairs, my moods are better and my blood pressure went down. I also loved being able to spend time with my husband and it helped our relationship grow.  I felt supported in so many other ways in just our exercise classes. As a woman and mother, I still needed to feel valued by my spouse. Doing this with him helped that to grow for us. And also, I made so many fun new friends.

Although I am not currently doing the group fitness classes because of my injury, I continue to do what I can in small doses because of what the classes help me to build; confidence and improved self-esteem.  Also, I love exercise because it truly sets up my habits for the day. If I can get some yoga in the morning in, I will most likely eat healthy the entire day and be more mindful about what I put into my body.”

What’s your Why?

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What’s Your Why?

I went to TJ Maxx the day after Christmas (big mistake) and noticed that the exercise clothes had been moved to the front of the store, smack dab right in front of your face. It was an immediate reminder that the gym is about to get packed, and I need to leave more than 30 seconds before class to find parking. New Year’s Resolution season is upon us.

We’ve all heard that the majority of people that set resolutions don’t follow through with them, especially regarding exercise. In fact, we’ve all probably set New Year’s resolutions that we’ve forgotten about by February. It seems like New Year’s resolutions get a bad reputation and people make more fun of people for setting them rather than supporting each other. Heck, retailers even know this and are trying to capitalize on our short-lived intentions.

I love and embrace change, so I enjoy New Year’s resolutions. I like talking about them with other people and setting my own. I think we should celebrate anytime of year that motivates us to become better versions of ourselves. I’ve found that the people that follow through with resolutions have a meaningful “why” behind their goal and their motivation is more intrinsic than extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is defined as, “Acting without any obvious external rewards. We simply enjoy an activity or see it as an opportunity to explore, learn, and actualize our potentials.” On the flipside, extrinsic motivation involves an external stimulation that drives you to change or continue your chosen behaviors. “The motivating factors are external, or outside, rewards such as money or recognition. These rewards provide satisfaction and pleasure that the task itself may not provide.”

Motivation is a widely studied topic, especially in regards to exercise. It’s easy to list 10 reasons why you “should” exercise, but it is probably much harder to list 10 reasons why you “want” to exercise. Children provide the best example of an intrinsic motivation towards exercise. They will exercise (aka run around playing) for hours, simply because it makes them happy. Research has shown that the more intrinsic the motivation, the greater the chance of sticking with a behavior. While extrinsic motivation may get you started and help you develop short-term adherence, intrinsic motivation is what will keep you going long term (Teixeira et al., 2012). A New Year’s Resolution might start as being extrinsically motivated, but the key to long-term change is finding how to develop intrinsic motivation for that behavior.

Here are some tips to help you develop intrinsic motivation and to convert that New Year’s Resolution into long-term behavior change:

Do something you enjoy.

This one is first, because it is most important. If you don’t enjoy what you are doing, it will be very difficult to continue doing it long term. You don’t have to absolutely love every part of the activity, but some part of it needs to bring you joy. For example, I enjoy lifting weights, but I don’t like every exercise involving weights (I’m looking at you overhead squats). I still know that I enjoy lifting weights, in general, so I keep doing it. There are so many ways to move your body, so you will be able to find something you enjoy. Remember, it is about what brings you joy, so don’t compare yourself to other people.

Get involved in your training.

Instead of passively coming to class and just going through the motions, become actively involved in your training. Set goals that are important to you. Share those goals with the coaches and ask how they can support you. If you want to be able to do a pull-up, learn about what types of movements will improve your strength to perform that movement. Add those movements into your weekly routine, either before or after class. Also, ask questions in class, so you can better understand why you’re doing certain exercises. I promise Dan has a method to his madness, just ask and start soaking up the knowledge

Master the basics.

Learning how to do the basic moves for any activity will increase your confidence and enjoyment. The first time I went to a Zumba class, I felt like a complete fool. I was going the wrong way for most of the class. After learning some basic cues and moves, I was able to stop thinking so much and actually enjoyed the class. I still don’t think I look like I know what I’m doing, but I just avoid looking in the mirrors. A good place to start for GF Strength and Conditioning classes it to master the squat and the push-up. If you want to get stronger and learn the basics of lifting free weights, you should checkout the Free Weight Foundations class on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 6:30-7:30pm. You can go to 8 classes a month for just $50!

Set and celebrate small goals.

Did you just do a front squat with a barbell for the first time? That’s awesome! Celebrate that accomplishment. Setting big goals has its purpose, but smaller more realistic goals will help keep you motivated along the way. If jump roping isn’t something you are naturally good at, then don’t tell yourself you are going to do 200 jumps in a row. Sure, you can work up to that, but how about aiming for 25 jumps first? Then you can work up to 50 and so on. Make sure you recognize these wins. Your accomplishments are a big deal and will help you develop the desire to keep improving your skills. If you’re comfortable sharing your accomplishments with the coaches and other athletes in class, please let us all know. We want to support and celebrate you!

Recognize the way exercise makes you feel.

We’ve heard about mindful eating, basically listening to your body and paying attention to what it’s experiencing while eating. Try to do the same thing while exercising. Identify how you’re feeling before, during and after the entire workout. There may be some negative feelings associated with the workout (aka burpees), but there may also be times that you feel really good. Maybe you feel strong after doing a push press or your heart beating quickly makes you feel energetic and alive. You may have come into class tired and stressed, but leave with a mood and energy boost. Hold onto those positive feelings and remember them when you feel like just giving up or are trying to convince yourself to go to class. Remember, at some point throughout the workout, you will feel good and it will be worth it.

Your motivations will likely change throughout the years, and these tips can be applied to many aspects of your life.  I used to love running, but my knees didn’t agree with me. When I injured myself running , I had to dig really deep to find my “why” again and to develop new intrinsic motivations for exercise. I still enjoyed moving for the most part, but I deeply missed that sense of accomplishment that came from finishing a run and being outside. But, I understood that I needed to take care of my body if I wanted to continue to move it for the rest of my life. I started lifting weights and seriously enjoyed the feeling of being strong. I changed my “why” and found new ways to motivate myself. Now, I move my body in all sorts of ways for many different reasons:

I go to yoga to stretch my body, release the tension in my hips and feel amazing for the rest of the day. Do I have to do it? No, but I do it weekly, because I enjoy the feeling.

I walk to enjoy nature, soak up some vitamin D, listen to an audiobook and explore new places.

I lift weights to be strong, so I don’t have to rely on other people to lift things for me. If I want to arrange furniture in my house, I can.

I swim to allow myself time to think and reconnect with an activity from my childhood that I enjoy doing.

I run to remind myself how great it feels to move my body quickly. Then I stop after a couple miles, because I know that’s all my body can handle.

I do burpees, because I can and I love feeling accomplished afterwards.

I go to GF Strength and Conditioning classes to meet new people, learn new exercises and leave with a smile on my face.

I challenge you to write down your “why” for any New Year’s Resolutions you set and to determine if your motivation is intrinsic vs. extrinsic. Remember, it’s ok to get started with extrinsic motivation, but try to use these tips and any other strategies that work for you to find internal motivation. Your future self will thank you when you’re still doing the positive behavior many years down the road!

Staying Happy & Healthy During The Holidays

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Staying Happy & Healthy through the Holidays

In case you haven’t been to Target since October and missed it, the holiday season is upon us. It could just be my perception, but it seems like people (and retail stores) are coming out in full force this year. Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays and embrace the season. But I think we can all agree that the holiday season isn’t always jolly–often times we are mentally and physically drained towards the end of it. Here are some tips to help you have a happy and healthy holiday season:

Get Rid of the Guilt

How many times have you heard people at the gym say, “I’m only here to burn off _______ I ate yesterday”? It’s incredibly common to hear at the gym, especially during the holidays. It seems like the holidays and food guilt go hand-in-hand. It’s a nasty cycle to get trapped in and drains happiness during the holidays. The only thing that feeling guilty will do is take enjoyment out of whatever you’re doing. Instead, let’s tell food guilt to take a hike.

Try telling yourself, I get to eat holiday meals without guilt. Guess what? It’s just food and you can take pleasure in it. Notice how it smells, tastes and looks–mindfully enjoy every part of it and then move on to focusing on enjoying your family, friends and holiday cheer.

Embrace the Experiences

Experiences are what makes the holiday season memorable. Social connection has a huge impact on our well-being. Research shows that close relationships are imperative to long-term health and happiness. This year, make a vow to enjoy quality time with the people you love and don’t let your thoughts about what you will have for dinner keep you from being present. Embrace the experience of festive meals with other people without feelings of stress and guilt, which should never be part of healthy eating.

Practice Self-Compassion

The holidays seem to be a time that people put tons of pressure on themselves to live up to certain expectations set by god knows who. We’ve created a culture where we let perfect be the enemy of good. Instead of beating yourself up over something or not saying kind things to yourself, try reframing your thoughts. Think of everything as a learning experience. For example, try saying “________ went really well and I’m proud of myself for that. Next time, I might try to….” Life (especially the holidays) can be tough enough, so be a friend to yourself not an enemy.

Move Your Body to Feel Good

How often do you leave a GFSC class in an awful mood? Hopefully, not that frequently. You might feel like you never want to see the word “burpee” again, but you likely aren’t feeling grumpy. That’s because exercise is incredibly good for your mental well-being. Moving your body decreases stress, anxiety and boosts your mood. In fact, moving your body for as little as 10-minutes can have positive effects. If you can’t make it to a GFSC class, don’t let that keep you from being active. Do whatever you can that day to move your body. Go on a walk, find a Youtube video, play tag with your kids or do some power cleaning–just move!

Eat & Enjoy Food

Food is a significant part of holiday traditions and it’s usually indulgent (and delicious). There are likely memories that go along with your holiday tradition food. Rather than being concerned about eating “unhealthy” food and engaging in negative self-talk, think about the positive memories associated with that food. Eat mindfully and enjoy every bite. Remember, the holiday season is short-lived and a couple days of celebratory food is not going to have a significant impact on your overall health and well-being. Your habits throughout the entire year matter most, not only this short period of time.

Be Intentional with Your Time

It’s so easy to overextend yourself anytime of the year, but it is especially easy during the holidays. It seems like you are receiving invitation after invitation. While it may be hard to say no, remember that saying no to something means saying yes to something else. That “yes” could be another social commitment that may be more important to you and align with your life better. It could also be a relaxing bath or walk. There will always be things that we just have to do, but there are plenty of choices we can make about how we spend our time. Make sure those choices you get to make positively contribute to your health and well-being rather than detracting from it.

How many times have you told yourself that you will focus on your health and well-being when the holidays are over? Rather than waiting until the New Year to focus on YOU, why not start now? It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing approach. Think about the small things you can do that will benefit your health and well-being during the holidays, not what you can’t do. If you want help brainstorming other positive things you can do to support your health and happiness this holiday season, talk to a coach in class!