By Chicago Personal Trainer Marlon Ordonez
“New Year – New Me!” Heard that before? Sounds lovely, but it’s not necessarily good for us. Where did this whole New Year’s resolution thing begin anyway? It started in Ancient Babylon where the people made simple, and easily achievable promises to the Gods; simple things like cleaning up after themselves and putting away equipment. However, now we make complicated promises to ourselves. Many people go through the holiday season enjoying themselves and putting on unwanted weight, unnecessary stress, and make their health and wellness a bit more complicated because they just tell themselves Jan 1 is a “New Year and a New me!” If you are there now, this is not to tell you that your thought process is wrong. In fact, it’s just to share a different perspective. Believe or don’t believe – have your own experience, and enjoy yourself reading through this for a moment in hopes it may bring some value.
Giving ourselves affirmations, making future promises and pursuing self – help regularly not only delays action but can become addicting; just the act of creating a resolution is enough to make us feel better! We all know someone who makes public declarations with conviction and has no noticeable change in the future. Know someone like that? You could have been like that, or are like that, and that’s okay! The problem with tying a behavioral change to a date like the new year does not allow room for failure and recovery, and if you are a human being, you will fail and hopefully choose to recover. At least 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail. Below is food for thought on why starting TODAY, is better than January 1st – Get your snack on!
Thought Snack # 1: Get your trainer, membership, schedule, and routine secured now.
We have all seen how packed the gym gets after the first of the year. Great fitness coaches have to turn down business because of their busy schedules. If you wait, unfortunately, you may just have to take what’s available and sometimes that means sacrificing quality.
Thought Snack #2: Gain momentum!
Even if you are traveling or are extra busy with work this time of year, get started NOW. Invest some money now before some of it is accidentally splurged on NYE or excessive holiday shopping. The point is to get that investment out of the way by securing your health and fitness now. Schedule a session, even if its only once before the New Year. That one session will boost your motivation and confidence to go in strong, secure a future schedule, meet your trainer and possibly get a better deal now than when January comes around. A general rule of thumb is the longer you wait, the harder it gets.
Thought Snack #3: Change is a process that requires time, energy, focus and patience. Breaking habits and building new ones constantly takes retraining the brain. Know that you can start over everyday, every hour and every minute – so why wait? Instead of saying “In 2018 I will workout.” Just say ” I will workout and have fun now.” If you are serious about change, you need to dig deep, and most of the time that requires honesty with ourselves without judging ourselves. It’s important to be kind to ourselves to promote the right type of change.
Start now and keep starting over. It’s gradual incremental changes that make a difference. Get better now, and keep getting better everyday. You will slip and make mistakes, and slide back. Success is like a muddy mountain; you climb up, you slide back down and you keep climbing up. Know that failure is good, and that bouncing back is a skill. It’s not how hard you fall, it’s how high you bounce back. If you need help getting started, RightFit Personal Training will match you with the right trainer. Don’t wait until January – that’s when everyone will be reaching out. Get ahead of the curve!
Marlon Ordonez is a certified personal trainer in Chicago, IL. Contact him today to schedule a free introductory session.
This is an original post written by Chicago Personal Trainer, Cristina Panagopoulos.
The holiday season can be such a magical time of year. However, with all the parties, holiday shopping, decorating and food preparation, your fitness and health goals can drop to the bottom of the totem pole, fast. Perhaps the holiday parties make it the hardest to stay on track. There is good (and caloric dense) food all around, what is one to do?! Check out my guidelines on how to bake healthy goods during this time of year (and really any time of year!).
TOP 5 WAYS TO MAKE HEALTHY COOKIES!!
1) Swap out the white flour! Do you know how many alternatives there are for flour? Perhaps you could use whole wheat flour or oatmeal flour to decrease the spike in insulin. OR my all time favorite, nut flours! Try using a mix of coconut flour, almond flour or hazelnut flour. There are also flours made from chickpeas which can make a great base for cookies!! All are A-OK in the CW Kitchen!
2) Say no to the butter! I am always so shocked when I see recipes that require absurd amounts of butter! To be honest, I always cut it in half because it never needs as much as it says (and no one ever notices). It wasn’t until late that I started swapping out butter for coconut oil though. Coconut oil is a great substitute for butter and you’ll need way less!
3) No refined sugar! Refined sugar is so 2005. No one uses it anymore. Plus as much as we hate to use it, it doesn’t like us back (there’s no nutritional value, sorry). Try using coconut sugar or apple sauce (or both!). Both coconut sugar and apple sauce will give baked goods the sweet taste without the massive amounts of refined sugars. Did you know that coconut sugar has a lower sugar content and it doesn’t spike insulin levels as quickly as regular sugar? Now you want to try it, don’t you?!
4) Egg whites only, sorry yolks! Did you know 2 yolks a day is your total cholesterol intake for ONE day? EK! That’s not good. So why not ditch the yolks and eat up the egg whites (typically add one extra egg white depending on the recipe). This will NOT change the flavor of the cookies but it will make them healthier!
5) Recipe call for chocolate? No problem! Who doesn’t love a homemade chocolate chip cookie (especially Santa)?! Opt for 70-80% dark chocolate chips when making these cookies AND for an extra touch, sprinkle in some cocoa powder (great antioxidant). This will help decrease the sugar content and increase the taste! Now we are talking..!
Try these tips out for some healthy baking and happier waistline this holiday season! Send us your recipes and pictures!
By Chicago Personal Trainer, Ron Munvez
Achieving your fitness or performance goals isn’t easy, but if you set or establish your goals, your chances of success is much greater. At Tri-Fitness & Performance we work with general population for weight loss and general fitness and we also work with athletes looking to improve their performance goals.
So lets look at goal setting to help you reach your fitness or performance goals.
It’s not all about will power and determination. It helps, but more important is having a plan of attack that you can implement. Here are some tips to help you reach your goals.
Specific – define your goal, such as I want to lose 10 pounds or I want to run a 10k in under 45 minutes. Not just “I want to lose weight or run faster.”
Measurable – something you can actually measure, like getting on a scale or timing your self-running a 10k.
Achievable – Make it something that is not too far reaching.
Realistic – Make sure it is something you know you can reach. For example to say I want to lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks is not realistic, or to run a 10k in 30 minutes when your best time ever was 50 minutes. Setting realistic goals will help you achieve your goals much easier, as you have less of a chance of giving up.
Timely – set a time period to reach your goal, be it 1 month, 6 months or 1 year, but make it realistic and achievable.
Setting process based goals is the real secret. Process goals are the road map that will get you to your goals. They are the system behaviors or habits that your are going to implement. I want to lose 10 pounds or run a 10k in under 45 minutes is an outcome goal. The process is how your are going to change your habits to get you there, like – I am going to eat veggies for lunch and dinner everyday or run interval 3 time a week.
Write down your goals where you can see them. You are 40% more likely to accomplish your goals when you write them down and see them.
Ask Why – Look below the surface and think about why your goals are important to you. You might set a goal to lose 20 pounds, but the question is, why do want to lose the 20 pounds? How will it make you a better person? What will it enable you to do in life? I had client that always wanted to lose weight, but not really change his diet. He really did not have a why until he got diagnosed with Type II diabetes. Then he had a why and changed some habits that changed his diet and he began to loss weight.
Set 30-Day Goals – mini challenges are easier to achieve eventually leading to your final goal.
Set Performance Goals – Such as number of push-ups or pull-ups. 1 mile run for time. Focusing more on what your body can do and less on how it looks has been shown to yield greater long-term satisfaction. Ask yourself this question: If you completely ignored the way you look and only focused on being able to do a pull or run a faster 5k, would you end up looking better anyway?
Find a sustainable workout program and nutrition solution – If you start a workout or exercise program that beats you up and you are sore every day or get injured, it is not sustainable.
Set a number of times per week that you are going to workout and make it happen no matter what. Remember, a workout doesn’t have to be a 1hour sweat fest. Even 10 minutes of pushups, squats, and planks count towards your goal.
Remember this – you can never outwork a crappy diet, I repeat – you can never outwork a crappy diet. The worlds greatest exercise program will never over take a bad diet. Any weight loss goal starts in the kitchen.
Don’t live and die by the scale – if anything, especially for weight loss, look at it as fat loss. Find a piece of clothing that doesn’t fit you or barely fits you. After 6 weeks, put it on and see if it fits uncomfortably, where you really have to suck in to snap or button it. Then in another 6 weeks try it on again and see your results. If you body is getting smaller, you are losing fat.
Ron is a certified personal trainer in Chicago, IL. Contact him today to schedule a free introductory session.
This is an original post written by Chicago Personal Trainer, Cristina Panagopoulos.
Tis the season for holiday parties, eggnog, cookie platters and more! Who doesn’t love that? It’s all great until you realize that the holiday season caused you to gain an extra 5-10lb. It’s not uncommon and unfortunately most people do gain a few pounds during the holidays. So how do you avoid it this year?! There are ways to stay fit during the holiday season and NOT gain weight! Here are my top 5 tips on how to avoid the weight gain while still enjoying the season.
1) Bring a Healthy Dish:
Every holiday party is usually an eclectic mix of dishes, right? Do you often bring something? Why not offer to bring a HEALTHY dish. I mean, you are in control of what your making. You might be surprised at how many people are grateful for something nutritious and delicious! Offer to bring a healthy side dish to your next party. Try something like spaghetti squash casserole, green beans tossed with slivered almonds and coconut oil, or perhaps cookies made with almond flour and coconut sugar. There’s ALWAYS a way to make something healthier!
2) Limit Alcohol:
Skip the fancy drinks. Yes, eggnog sounds wonderful, but have you checked out how much calories, sugar and cholesterol it has?! Ek. It makes my heart hurt just reading it! Water and tea is always a great bet but if you need to have an alcoholic drink, stick to red wine that is packed with antioxidants.
3) Don’t Skip A Meal:
Don’t skip meals! So you have a holiday party this evening, are you thinking of skipping a meal to help save up some calories? DON’T. Skipping meals is the worst thing you could do! You’ll end up putting your body into a starvation mode that will take longer to burn calories later in the day and you’ll end up storing even more fat. Start your day off right with a good breakfast. This will keep you satisfied and starting on the right foot. You’re more likely to keep the rest of the day good if you start it off good!
4) No Leftovers:
Give away the leftovers. Don’t pack your fridge with all the goodies from your party. Give them away! Let everyone take a little bit home that way not one person is stuck with a ton of food to finish (that is most likely not healthy). Sharing is caring.
5) Keep moving:
Just because it’s cold out and your schedule might seem busier doesn’t mean you can stop what you were doing before! Keep on moving! Keep going to your yoga class, don’t cancel on your personal trainer, keep working out with your girlfriend… whatever it is you do, keep doing it! When we stick to our routine we are less likely to veer away from it.
Try these tips this holiday season and keep off the holiday weight gain! Do you have a healthy trick you use during the holidays? A fun and clean recipe your family and friends love? We’d LOVE to hear about it! Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and you could be featured in our newsletter!
By Chicago Personal Trainer, Tia Harrison
Most runners believe that in order to perform better as a runner, which often translates to running faster, that they simply need to follow a running program or just run more often. That’s part of the puzzle, but the piece that is often missing for the majority of runners, especially distance runners, is strength training. I’ve learned from personal experience that in order to improve my finish times and run injury free, strength training is not an option, but a requirement.
Shortly after I completed my first full marathon in 2008, I decided to run a marathon in each of the 50 states by my 50th birthday. My ultimate goal was to finish each race injury free. I missed the mark in the age arena (finished my last state shortly after my 51st birthday), but I trained and ran injury free for eight years. I attribute the achievement of the latter portion of my goal to strength training. As hard as it was to fit the workouts into my busy schedule, I couldn’t relate to the benefits until I stopped strength training the year after I completed my 50th state and began training for a 50-mile ultra marathon. My ultra training plan required so much running that it was difficult for me to fit strength training into my schedule. Unfortunately I learned the hard way that a runner’s best defense against injury is a strong body! I finished the race, but I spent thousands of dollars and countless hours on physical therapy afterwards for a hip injury.
Why Should Runner’s Strength Train?
The benefits of strength training for runners—for both injury prevention and performance—are real. Whether the goal is simply to run easier with less pain or to run faster in a race, a few strength sessions every week can definitely help. Strong muscles, ligaments, and tendons guard against impact, improve form, and lead to a consistent gait. “If muscles are weak, one footfall will not be like the rest,” says Reed Ferber, Ph.D., director of the Running Injury Clinic at the University of Calgary. “How your knee turns in, your hip drops, your foot pronates changes with each step. But with strength, these movements are the same each time, so your mind and body know what to expect.”
Put a runner on a track or trail and they know what to do. Strength training isn’t as intuitive. In fact, most runners I coach have little-to-no lifting experience—meaning they are unfamiliar with exercise technique or the capabilities of their current physical and neuromuscular strength.
Here are a few questions I am often asked by runners about strength training:
“Should I do leg work, or does running work them enough?”
Most runners, both male and female, tend to do weight and resistance training for their upper-body but completely blow off lower-body weight training because they believe that running is enough to strengthen their legs. The reality is, running alone isn’t the best way to strengthen the legs. Depending on what kind of running you are doing (sprints or distance) you are either conditioning muscular strength or muscular endurance in your legs. Essentially, your body contains 2 different types of muscle fibers:
• Type I (Slow Twitch): Your body uses its slow twitch muscle fibers to run distances. Slow twitch fibers aren’t as strong as Type II fibers, but can work for extended periods of time without fatiguing.
• Type II (Fast Twitch): These are the muscle fibers you recruit when you are running sprints. They are strong and explosive, but fatigue quickly.
“Should I do upper body exercises or focus mainly on my core?
Upper body exercises actually help improve form. “They’ll build an upper musculature—arms, shoulders, chest, upper back—that will make you more athletic and improve subtler things like posture,” writes Dr. Jordan Metzl in his book—Dr. Jordan Metzl’s Workout Prescription.
“What strength exercises can I do to prevent injuries and how often should I do them?”
Most runners will get enormous benefits from 20 minutes, 3-5 times week. Below are my five favorite strength training exercises for runners. These simple strength-training exercises will help develop significant improvements in long-term performance and help prevent injury. There are other factors such as shoes, form and poor nutrition that can contribute to injuries, but that’s another blog!
A good strategy is to complete a dynamic warm-up before every run followed by a strength routine. As a mature runner, my body requires more recovery time, so I personally strength train on days when I do not run. Strength workouts should complement your running, not detract from it. If you’re so sore from strength exercises that your long run or speed training is compromised, tone down the intensity.
A Simple Strength Routine for Runners
The best strength exercises for runners have two characteristics: 1) They prevent injuries by focusing on the specific needs of runners (hip and glute strength), and 2) They are compound, multi-joint movements like squats and lunges. When the muscles are stronger, they are more resilient to fatigue which can compromise form and lead to injuries.
These five exercises are all most runner’s need and can be done just about anywhere. If you’re injury-prone, don’t have a background playing another sport, or you want to take your running to the next level, you can always do more or learn variations of these exercises. www.bodybuilding.com is a good site to check out if you need help with form and technique.
Doing something is definitely better than nothing. Incorporating strength work into your weekly schedule will reduce injury risk dramatically, allowing you to run more efficiently and race faster, — every runner’s ultimate goal.
Tia is a certified personal trainer in Chicago, IL. Contact her today to schedule a complimentary introductory session.
By Denver Personal Trainer, Louis Cicchino
Athletes of all disciplines are beginning to incorporate strength training into their workout regimen. Anyone who seriously participates in a sport, ranging from endurance sports to downhill skiing, strives to be stronger, faster, and more competitive. In order to improve sport performance, athletes need to follow a functional strength training program that is relevant to their particular needs. Not only will adding strength training into your workouts improve your performance, it can also help to mitigate injuries. In endurance athletes, injuries can be less obvious than in contact sports. They can creep in over time in the form of overuse/exhaustion, or as a muscular imbalance. A solid strength training program will be able to enhance your performance and concurrently safeguard you against injury.
Improving performance is a moving target and varies greatly from sport to sport, and athlete to athlete. In all sports, muscles are incorporated to create specific movements required in competition. Efficiency in these movements is produced when the muscles work in synchronicity to perform what is asked of them, and with efficiency comes improvement. The art of running is a great example of muscles working in synchronicity and because it is the primary movement in nearly every sport we will delve into it a bit more. There are many mechanics used in running, including the ‘footstrike phase’. During the footstrike, the glute muscles fire to stabilize the foot, knee, and hip in order to keep all momentum directed in a forward linear movement. When the glute is not activated, an inefficient movement occurs. This can cause the momentum to shift from a forward linear projection to a valgus movement, sending the momentum across the body with the drop of the knee. The pictures below provide a visual of the footstrike phase where the knee is collapsing inward, contradictory to the intended direction of movement.
The glute muscles in this runner are either weak and can’t match the output of the quad muscles, or they are not being properly activated. An adequate strength training program would be beneficial for this athlete to develop the glute muscles so they can combat imbalances and allow their quad and glute muscles to work in synchronicity with each other. Like the saying goes, two is better than one! And when both muscle groups properly engage, less energy is wasted leading to a more efficient movement. The picture below shows how the knee becomes stabilized with the help of the hip muscles and forward momentum is not lost with a valgus movement from the knee.
This same example can be applied to a common injury associated with long distance running, the runner’s knee or ITband syndrome. This overuse injury is a result of overly active quads where the quadricep pulls on the patellar tendon (which wraps around the kneecap) and causes the discomfort below the knee. As discussed, the runner in the pictures has inactive glute muscles that causes the knee to have a valgus movement. This sends the force of the landing up the shin to the outside part of the knee. Instead of the whole leg absorbing the forces equally, the outside of the quad absorbs the majority of the impact. The constant pounding (on average 160 foot strikes per minute for someone running between 6-8 mph on a treadmill) of endurance running will cause these muscles to get overloaded and breakdown. However, when the glute becomes activated and stabilizes the knee in a neutral position, the load is distributed evenly throughout the lower leg muscles, quads and hamstrings.
Because running is essentially balancing on a single leg for thousands of steps, a strength program should utilize single leg exercises. Incorporating exercises that force you to balance on one leg like lunges, step-ups, and single leg deadlifts will allow you to build strength in the stabilizing muscles and are great staples to include in a strength program. The key with these movements is to ensure proper engagement of the muscles to stabilize the leg from the toes to the hips.
A tailored strength training program can serve to both improve performance, and mitigate injuries. It is important to remember that not all movements will serve to better your specific athletic endeavors, and training plans must vary greatly depending on your sport. There are an overwhelming number of ways for us to move our bodies, and a knowledgeable and experienced personal trainer can guide you in the direction that will better you as an individual athlete. If you are looking to improve your sport performance and better understand your body, a run analysis is a great place to start. Contact Accelero Endurance today and mention this article for 15% of your first run analysis.
Louis is a certified personal trainer in Denver, CO. Contact him today to schedule a complimentary introductory session. If you are looking to lose weight, build muscle, or improve your overall quality of life, a RightFit Personal Trainer will help you set and achieve your health and fitness goals.
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By Chicago Personal Trainer, Stephanie O’Sullivan
Where do you live?
What makes your city a great fitness town?
Anywhere you go, you always see people working out. People are always running, biking and going to the gym so it’s a good way to stay motivated when you see that others are.
What are your favorite healthy restaurants? What do you typically order?
Left Coast, Alice and Friends, Native Foods Cafe, and Lyfe Kitchen are some of my favorites. I enjoy smoothies from any of these places or some kind of noodle and veggie dish. Some of these places are vegan and I can’t have dairy so they provide some tasty alternatives!
Do you ever do any outdoor workouts? If so, where?
Yes, I typically bike a few days out of the week or I go to the park to do some full body workouts using whatever I have available to me.
How would you describe the personal training industry in Chicago?
I think it’s pretty big where I am at. Chicago is an active city and most places I’ve trained, I usually see other trainers around. People are seeking help and motivation all the time so this city is a good one to find that.
What are a few of your favorite things about living where you live?
I like how Chicago is separated into different neighborhoods. It gives you different places to explore and you don’t really get bored because of that. Also, you can find great food in the city as well as plenty of activities to get involved in if you’re looking for it.
Stephanie is a certified personal trainer in Chicago, IL. Contact her today to schedule a complimentary introductory session. If you are looking to lose weight, build muscle, or improve your overall quality of life, a RightFit Personal Trainer will help you set and achieve your health and fitness goals.
This is an original post written by Chicago Personal Trainer, Cristina Panagopoulos. Cristina has been working with RightFit Personal Training for over three years, and she is one of the best we have to offer. Her professionalism and personality are second to none, and she fully dedicates herself to her clients.
So you want to become more fit, healthier, stronger, leaner and everything else that screams, “I’m fit!” Sure, it’s easy to say this and want it, but what does it really cost? How do some people make it look easy and others can’t seem to loose the weight for the life of them!?
I’ve been a trainer for 11 years, (yah, you read that correctly). I’ve seen many walks of life come in and out of the gym telling me they want X, Y and Z. So how do I know when someone is going to be successful at their goal? I don’t. You can tell me everything you THINK I want to hear, but it doesn’t mean anything. When someone is successful in their fitness journey, it’s because they are MENTALLY committed to it and READY for a change. That is something I cannot see (maybe in the future there will be a brain camera that will let me know, but until then..).
Here are the top 5 things you need to do to become successful in your goals:
1) Mentally commit to WHAT it is you want. If you don’t have goals then you’re mindlessly working! You have to be strong in the mind to be strong in the body. Point blank.
2) Have a good support system. Too often I hear that significant others, family members, or co-workers are NOT supportive of weight loss goals. It blows my mind! Would you rather see someone unhealthy and eating crap all day OR see someone who cares about living well and taking care of their body? Hint: option 1 is the correct answer.
3) Just do it. I absolutely have no tolerance for excuses. I don’t buy them. If you are serious about taking care of yourself, then get your butt to the gym! Wake up early and get it done. There is plenty of time to take care of yourself, but it comes down to MAKING time. Just DO it.
4) Out with the bad, in with the good. We’ve all heard this, but try applying it to fitness and wellness. If you have bad food in the house, nothing good will come of it! Get rid of it! If you are going out regularly on Friday nights for drinks and pizza, you need to change it! Take out the bad and replace it with some good habits! Maybe make Friday nights a regular “cooking at home” night.
5) Live in the present, not the past. More often than not, I hear, “when I was like this,” or “my body is like this.” Stop letting your mind go to what was and go to what is. You need to live in the present and not dwell on the past. If your constantly thinking of what your body was like your whole life or your most fit state, then you’ll never grow. Worry about this moment right now.
Now, how are you going to change? Figure out 3 points that will help make your life healthier. What do you have to lose?
In good health,