11 Foods That Naturally Give You Energy
We know how busy your life can be. Balancing a career, a family, and a healthy lifestyle can be exhausting. For many, a lack of sleep and an overwhelming amount of responsibilities can lead to burnout—and that’s something we’d like to avoid!
When sleepiness strikes, it’s tempting to reach for a sugary soda or coffee concoction to spike your energy levels. While these treats may help you feel a temporary alertness, they’re also prone to causing an unpleasant crash later. However, there are other edible (or drinkable) options available to both satiate your hunger and keep your energy levels sky high.
Though there are dozens of options out there, we’ve compiled 11 of our top picks. All of these energizing foods are nutritious, delicious, and give you the boost you need—naturally.
Is it just us, or are bananas nature’s most perfect fruit? Not only are they super healthy, they’re also incredibly versatile: bananas are a perfect natural sweetener and thickener, and can even be used as an egg substitute in baking.
Due to their high levels of vitamin B6, potassium, and carbohydrates, bananas are a perfect choice for giving yourself a healthy dose of natural energy.
Looking for some ways to incorporate bananas into your daily diet? We love blending them into smoothies—they provide a silky, creamy texture and gentle sweetness that can’t be matched. Bananas are also excellent frozen—they make a fantastic healthy alternative to popsicles or ice cream. Finally, we love a whole banana spread with almond or peanut butter—yum!
Rice wears many, many hats. Depending on your preference, you can consume this beloved product in a variety of ways: steamed whole, crushed into flours and cooked into noodles, cracked and stewed into a porridge, or soaked in water and enjoyed as a beverage. Many cultures around the world rely on rice as a staple ingredient and revolve their meals around the tasty grain.
Aside from taste and versatility, rice contains another noteworthy asset: it’s an energizing superstar. In particular, brown rice is especially helpful for boosting the power of your mind and body; it’s packed with vitamins and minerals that help banish that dreaded feeling of exhaustion. In fact, one cup of cooked brown rice contains a hefty 3.5 grams of fiber—and that’s not all. It’s loaded with the mineral manganese (it contains around an impressive 88% per serving), which aids your enzymes in the process of breaking down carbs and proteins, thus producing energy. Furthermore, brown rice has a significantly low glycemic index count, which allows your body to maintain regular blood sugar levels, hence keeping your energy consistent all day.
When it comes to cooking and serving brown rice, the possibilities are practically endless. For hot summer days, we like to use the chewy, flavorful grains to make a cold rice salad. Chopped raw vegetables (like cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes,) chilled brown rice, some nuts, and a mountain of fresh herbs go beautifully together with a big squeeze of lemon juice and olive oil. It’s delicious, refreshing, and will keep you going all day.
So, it’s not exactly a food, per se, but we couldn’t write this list and forget to include it. After all, this hydrating life force is, among other things, the key to feeling alert, energized, and ready to take on responsibilities.
Have you ever been dehydrated? The symptoms and side effects can be pretty nasty—and go well beyond the feeling of thirst. It can make your lips, eyes, and mouthfeeluncomfortably dry, cause lightheadedness or dizzy spells, or even wipe your energy levels.
By drinking plenty of water, you’re far less likely to fall victim to the exhaustion that comes with dehydration. This especially applies when you’ve been sweating—either from a great workout session, or a sunny day on the beach.
For some, only drinking water can begin to feel a little boring. We recommend infusing jugs of h20 with your favorite fruits—simply slice and dice your produce of choice, and leave it soaking overnight in your fridge. In the morning, you can strain it right into your water bottle. Whether you choose split strawberries, citrus wedges, torn mint leaves, or even cucumber slices, you’ll be left with a fragrant and tasty drink—naturally!
Quinoa may have only gained popularity in the US over the past decade or so, but it’s a staple crop in Peru, where it’s been cultivated for thousands of years.It’s beloved for its toothsome and nutty flavor, as well as its chewy-soft texture, and can be served at any temperature.
In terms of energy, quinoa packs a serious punch. After all, this tasty seed is loaded with protein, fiber, minerals, and vitamins. It’s high in carbohydrates, which is notorious for causing sluggishness, but since it has a low glycemic index, the starches are absorbed at a slower pace—hence keeping energy levels consistent.
Some of our favorite uses for quinoa? It’s commonly used in grain-based salad—try it in your next tabouli! Sometimes, we swap it out for pasta and bathe it in our favorite pestos and marinaras. It can also be purchased and consumed as a gluten-free alternative to wheat flour— and it makes delightfully crispy cookies.
When Goldilocks tucked into the three bears’ bowls of porridge, she was actually doing herself quite a solid. After all, oats are a fantastic source of energy—likely, the bites she took gave her the boost she needed to get the heck out of dodge when the bears returned home.
What Goldie probably didn’t know was that oats contain all sorts of energizing vitamins and minerals, like iron, manganese, and vitamin B6. These components help one’s body to produce energy. But that’s not where the only reason a bowl of oats can be so fortifying. The product also contains beta-glucan, a type of fiber that enables your blood to absorb glucose at a slower rate.
If a steaming bowl of porridge isn’t your ideal meal, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy this special grain. It can be mixed with your favorite dried fruits and nuts and enjoyed with yogurt as a granola, baked into your favorite healthy cookie recipe, or soaked overnight in milk (and your favorite toppings) to make bircher muesli.
Hummus is a Jack (City) of all trades if you ask us. It can be eaten on practically any occasion—as a midday office pick me up, garnished with silky tahini sauce and olive oil as a starter, or slathered atop grilled meals or baked falafels, piled into a pocket of fluffy pita, and nestled amongst chopped salads. It’s creamy, full of flavor, and goes with a grand array of dishes. Is there anything else to say?
As it turns out, yes. The traditional components of hummus—garbanzo beans, tahini paste, lemon juice, and olive oil—are all especially energizing foods! Chickpeas, the star ingredient of hummus, is comprised of fiber and energizing complex carbs, while tahini and olive oil are packed with healthy fats, and assist your body in absorbing carbs at a slower rate. (This is handy for avoiding spikes in your blood sugar levels—never pleasant.)
There’s a reason so many people choose orange juice as their breakfast beverage of choice. Not only does the orange contain a spectacularly sunshiney flavor (and color,) it’s well known for being a rich source of vitamin C—eating just one will satisfy your Daily Required Intake by over 100%.
It’s vitamin C content may get all the fame and glory, but oranges contain quite a few healthy, boosting elements. They’re packed with antioxidants, which research has shown can potentially tackle the exhaustion that comes from oxidative stress.
If fruit juice isn’t your first choice, oranges can be enjoyed in plenty of ways. They’re beautiful in salad dressings, make for a fun marinade for barbecues, can be churned into fabulous sorbets, and of course, can be enjoyed whole.
Delicious, nutritious beans are a spectacular source of plant-based protein and are used in countless ways across the globe. Without beans or legumes, we would have no tofu, no peanut butter, and no soy sauce—just to name a few.
Despite the many differences in flavor, appearance, and cultivation climate, all beans tend to be on the same page, nutritionally. Generally, they are protein, carb, and fiber-rich, and are a strong source of antioxidants, which are both energizing and anti-inflammatory.
When you consume beans, your body digests them slowly. Because of this, your blood sugar doesn’t spike or drop— they remain stable for hours, thus giving you a steadier, more consistent level of energy.
With recipes for beans spanning the globe, it’s fun to find uses for beans that speak directly to you. Plenty of soups, stews, salads, and casseroles use beans as their main ingredient, and they’re also delicious on their own.
Even if you’ve never had a sip of green tea before, it’s likely you’re aware of its many health benefits. After all, green tea is extolled as being one of the healthiest food or drink items out there—a simple browse through a supplement or health food store will find dozens of products that boast it as their top ingredient.
When it comes to finding natural sources of energy, green tea is your new best friend. After all, it contains actual caffeine—though only about half as much as coffee, which makes it a gentler option.In fact, the L-theanine found in green tea actually can temper the negative effects that are often associated with caffeine—y’know, jitters, anxiety, and the other reasons one might find themselves reading about foods that naturally give you energy!
Green tea can be consumed hot or iced, and it’s especially nice with some local honey. Nowadays, many coffee shops and cafes hawk tasty— and Instagram-worthy— “matcha lattes,” which rely on specially-grown green tea leaves which have been ground and dried.
No offense to regular old spuds, but we’re totally team sweet potato. After all, sweet potatoes don’t just taste amazing— they’re another all-natural energizing superstar.
For starters, they are absolutely loaded with vitamin A—one single (mid-sized) sweet potato contains more than four times the Required Daily Intake for the stuff. Aside from the staggeringly high vitamin count, sweet potatoes are rich in fiber, complex carbs, and manganese.They can be digested at a slow pace—which, as we’ve learned, allows your energy levels to stay stable throughout the day. Furthermore, the high levels of manganese present make for a more straightforward nutrient breakdown.
Sweet potatoes are so tasty and brilliantly hued, it’s tempting to use them in any recipe that calls for plain white spuds. They puree beautifully into soups, and can even make a fun dip or spread. They also add a deep flavor and rich, moist texture to cakes and muffins.
Leafy greens are famous for being healthy, and we can’t refute that. They are healthy. They’re also great for keeping you alert, aware, and ready to tackle your day.
Because of the high levels of vitamins(A, K, C, and E,) potassium, calcium, and magnesium, leafy greens like spinach and kale are hailed as being some of the best foods a person can eat. They’re antioxidant-rich, fibrous, and filled with folic acid. All of these aspects make for a healthy plate and lots of energy. However, there’s one particular element that gives roughage an extra energizing kick: iron. Though it doesn’t contain as much iron as the creators of Popeye might have thought, dark leafy greens still are packed with the stuff. As it is, fatigue is perhaps the most recognizable symptom of an iron deficiency. By consuming iron-rich foods, you are adding your red blood cells in their delivery of oxygen in your body. In short: it’s going to perk you up. 
Whether you enjoy them slow cooked alongside barbecue, cooked into a tasty curry, blended into green juice, or tossed in a hearty salad, these leaves will be an asset to your day.
At Jack City Fitness, health and nutrition are a part of daily life. We love working with our partners on choosing natural and delicious foods to enhance their energy and feel their very best, whether they’re at the gym or just going about their daily errands. We offer nutritional and fitness coaching, group classes,and more. Get in touch today to see why we’re the #1 fitness center in Boise!
Plenty of us have post-workout habits. From cooling down with a protein-packed smoothie to taking a refreshing shower, an after gym routine is an easy and healthy one to get into.
However, what about your routine before you hit the gym?
If your answer here is only, “put my activewear on, fill my water bottle, and grab my headphones,” we have some news for you. There’s a possibility for your workout to be easier, more comfortable, and all around BETTER for you. It’s all in the way you prepare for your time at the gym! In fact, engaging in a solid pre-workout routine isn’t only the healthier and safer choice, it can enhance your abilities to perform better, and with more vitality.
There are plenty of smart choices that you can make before hitting the gym, playing your favorite sport, or embarking on a hike or bike ride. Some of the best known rules for a pre-workout routine include:
Many coaches and fitness buffs insist that a proper set of Z’s is crucial to any rep of squats. It will ensure that you have the correct amount of energy needed to perform all of your favorite exercises, whether you choose to run on a treadmill or bench press 100 pound weights.
Many people roll out of bed, throw on their gym clothes, and jump right into their workout without warming up. This might save you some time, but it can be a pretty dangerous practice.
We like to use the “candy bar” example to explain this one. Let’s say you stick a chocolate bar in the freezer. If you were to pull it out and bend it, the bar would snap right in half. However, if you took it out and let it “warm up” on the counter for a few hours, it would easily bend without breaking.
Your muscles and tendons actually work in a pretty similar way— when they’ve been warmed up, they are far more flexible.
Do you work out on an empty stomach? If your answer is yes, it’s time to change your tune. Even if your workout is at an unsavory early hour, we would still recommend you have something in your stomach before training. (Though we are obviously not suggesting that you force yourself to eat if you don’t have an appetite. That’s also not healthy to do!)
A successful workout requires a nourishing pre-gym meal. The optimal time to eat before working out is roughly 60-90 minutes before your physical activities begin. This is perhaps the most important—and frequently overlooked—rule of all. What you eat before you train makes a massive difference to how your workout goes.
So, What Should We Be Eating Before a Workout?
You have plenty of wholesome and nourishing choices of things to chow down on before hitting the gym. Some of your best bets include:
Seriously—how perfect are bananas? Not only are they delicious, they’re versatile, healthy, and the perfect quick bite before a workout.
See, bananas are loaded up with potassium, natural carbohydrates, and vitamins— all elements that will help keep you energized and active during your workout session. They are also quite easy to eat when your appetite hasn’t kicked into full gear, so they’re a handy thing to have for early morning workout sessions.
If chowing down on a whole banana isn’t really your thing, they are a great smoothie ingredient! We also love them sliced atop a bowl of healthy, oaty muesli and Greek yogurt. And speaking of which…
Yogurt is sort of the undersung hero of the health food world. Though it may not photograph as well as the poke bowls and kale smoothies of social media, it’s far better suited for a pre-workout snack than either of those Insta-famous dishes. (And you can read below for some reasons why…) Indeed, this cultured dairy product is a workout superstar—especially tubs of strained Greek yogurt.
Yogurt is packed with muscle-protecting proteins that keep your body moving during a strenuous exercise sesh. It’s also easy to eat on the go, and can be blended with your favorite fruits to create a powerful, creamy, and tasty pre-workout smoothie.
Ever heard the term “carb loading?” It’s a technique used by many athletes to optimize the way their body stores carbs, therefore enhancing their performance in a natural way. This technique is generally done in a 6 day, 3 day, or single day cycle.
However, not all carbohydrates are created equally. If you’re planning to load up on carbs preceding a major physical endeavor, like a big game or marathon, it’s important to make wholesome and effective decisions about what you choose to eat. Things like crackers or french fries, for instance, may contain lots of carbs, but they’re also high in fat and sodium. Instead, go for healthy whole grain products— like your favorite wholemeal bread. For an extra protein-laden kick, try spreading whole grain toast with natural peanut or almond butter…yum!
Both Irish style, steel-cut oats, and flat, rolled oats are good choices to chew on before your next workout. Their healthy amounts of fiber and vitamin B allow your body to release carbohydrates slowly. This can lend itself to a more productive workout, where you don’t feel tired or crashy.
You can consume oats in a few ways! Stovetop oatmeal is a delicious treat for any cold morning, and tastes even nicer with some pieces of your favorite fruit stirred through. If you’re looking for a nourishing, oaty meal without the cooking time, try making a pot of bircher muesli. Simply soak oats in a combination of almond milk and yogurt overnight, along some non-acidic fruit, if you’d like. When you pull it from the refrigerator in the morning, those oats will be plump and ready to eat. Once you get the hang of it, you can customize it to fit any flavor palette you like!
We’d like to stress the word “homemade” here. Many pre-packaged trail mix blends are loaded up with sugar, salt, and even artificial ingredients, making them an unhealthy choice for any time, especially heading to the gym, where you’re bound to experience an unpleasant crash.
However, making your own trail mix is simple, and a surefire way to have a healthy and easy snack to eat on the go. Nuts, a classic trail mix ingredient, are comprised of good fats, and are an excellent source of protein. We prefer them raw (not roasted!) and unsalted for both their flavor and the health factors.
Unsure of how to make your own trail mix? Pick your favorite nut and we’ll help you with some ideal dried fruits and other treats to mix them with.
Are There any Foods to Avoid Before Working Out? Why?
Yes, of course there are.
Just as there are foods that are ideal for a great workout, there are definitely items you should be skipping. However, many of these foods are otherwise part of a healthy diet, so it can be a bit confusing. Don’t worry— we’re here to clear things up for you.
This one might come as a surprise to plenty of us, as fresh, leafy greens are often thought to represent healthy eating and nutrition. And of course, they are healthy and nourishing things to eat— just maaaaybe not right before you work out.
Yes, delicious kale might be a superfood, but during your workout, it’s likely to cause some serious discomfort. That’s because these cruciferous leaves are loaded with fiber, which may be great for your diet, but not so good for your poor digestive system, which tends to go on hold mid-workout. The result is often a nightmarish bout of bloating and gas— not ideal for a gym session! We recommend leaving the kale smoothie or spinach salad for later on. Your body will thank you.
Beloved across culinary and nutrition circles for its high fiber content, nutty, savory flavor, and versatile texture, cauliflower is a dinnertime superstar. However, when it comes to pre-workout food, it’s best to be avoided. As with kale and leafy greens, cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable with an ultra high fiber count. When combined with strenuous physical activity, it can cause major discomfort in the forms of gas and bloating.
Don’t want to ditch your cauliflower-laden favorites every time you feel like working out? It’s possible, as long as you manage your timing correctly. After consuming cauliflower, let your body digest for 3-4 hours before heading to the gym.
This might require some label reading on your part, but it could be worth it. Many protein powders and energy bars tend to include unfermented soy.
Though fermented soy products (like miso) don’t have this problem, consumption of unfermented soy products can sometimes cause gastrointestinal discomfort, bloating, and even slowed digestion of proteins.
If you’re working out to lose weight, it makes sense that you’re often turning to spicy foods. After all, they raise your metabolism and help you burn more calories daily. However, as much as we love hot and spicy foods for both their flavor and their benefits, there is a time and a place for them.
That time, as it turns out, is not before hitting the gym. It can cause fiery heartburn and indigestion, which can range from being uncomfortable to downright painful or even debilitating. Best to avoid it until you’re back home, relaxing after a successful gym session.
I’ve Figured out my Exercise Routine…Now, Where Should I Work Out?
You’ve come to the right place!
Jack City Fitness is Boise-based fitness facility with everything you need to get into shape and feel great. When you become one of our “partners,” you will be welcomed into a family of athletes, Nutrition Specialists, and coaches who all have one goal in common— results. Whether you want private personal training, small group coaching sessions, exercise classes, or free gym access, it’s all available to you with a Jack City Fitness partnership. We even offer online courses, so you can take your workout with you wherever you go.
Get in touch with our team today, and learn how you can become a Jack City Fitness partner!
Let’s think back to this past December. Whether you rang in the New Year by popping champagne bottles at the club or cooking an elegant meal for an intimate dinner party, the same, universal New Years’ topic was likely discussed—resolutions.
Everyone’s resolutions are entirely different, as they depend on you and your personal goals. For some, 2019 was going to be a year of learning something new, like a foreign language, musical instrument, or useful skill. For others, a new year is an opportunity to drop a “bad habit,” like nail biting, smoking, or swearing. Meanwhile, others spend their New Years Eves making nutrition, fitness, and lifestyle changes to make the coming year the healthiest yet. Did you make any resolutions? If yes, what were they?
Now, let’s fast forward back to today. The sun is shining, the flowers are in full bloom, and those winter nights of late 2018 feel like another lifetime. However, it’s 2019—how are those resolutions going?
If your honest answer is “not so well,” you’re certainly not alone. Resolutions may sound simple to accomplish amidst the giddy excitement of a midnight countdown and rousing rendition of Auld Lang Syne, but in application they take a lot of work. After all, we don’t live in a perfect world—things happen, and executing New Year’s resolutions don’t always take priority.
Even if you’ve made it halfway through the year without working on your resolutions, there’s no reason to leave them behind. It’s not too late to get back on track and stick to those promises you made to yourself back in December.
Take Small Steps Daily
Any goal can feel overwhelming if you’re looking at it as a whole. By breaking your resolution down into small, manageable steps, you’ll find it much easier to tackle.
What did you resolve to do this year?
To Learn a New Skill
Did you go into 2019 with grand dreams of mastering a skill? Whether you were hoping to speak French like a Parisian, drive a manual car, or do a perfect set of push-ups, it’s entirely possible to achieve in small steps daily—even if you haven’t done much about it yet. That’s fine—you can get started today!
For any new skill, the key to success is in repetition. This is something that can be—and should be—accomplished in manageable, small steps daily.
A few tips?
We’re nearing the end of an incredible decade. Over the past ten years, we’ve seen technology advance in leaps and bounds. These incredible advances are helpful in countless ways—seriously, can you even remember what it what like trying to navigate a city before having GPS on your phone?
For language learning, there are plenty of applications that allow users to practice small amounts of words and phrases on a daily basis, like Duolingo. For those looking to hone their fitness skills, there are high-quality programs that can be done online.
Let’s say your resolution was to be able to do a perfect rep of 50 push-ups. On day one of your resolution work, you might be tempted to test your endurance and try all 30 in one go. You might succeed, but that could actually hinder your progress.
Why’s that? If you start your work towards your perfect push-up set at full-blast, you might find yourself skipping a crucial step—honing your first push-up. This goes for any skill, but it’s especially important for fitness goals. Quality is so much more important than quantity here. Once you are confident about performing a push-up safely and correctly, then you can work towards doing large and impressive sets.
Routine is so important. Once you get into the habit of practicing anything on a daily basis, whether it’s driving a car, working out, or playing the guitar, it will become a part of your routine, like brushing your teeth or making coffee. After a while, you won’t even need to think about it, you’ll just do it—and you’ll improve every single time.
To Get Into Better Shape and be Healthier
When you made your resolution, switching to a healthier and more active lifestyle seemed easy. Maybe you even wanted to hit a certain fitness or weight goal by summertime. You were going to start a new, healthy nutrition plan, find a good gym (and coach), and start crafting your dream body. However, it was a long winter. Now, you haven’t been staying on track at all— and you’re nowhere near your goal. Don’t you worry—it’s easy to get back into the right pace, but it helps with these handy tips:
If you’re planning to start a new fitness regime, it’s okay to take it slow when you begin. Sure, plenty of people are able to dedicate hours to their workout—but they have likely been training for quite some time. It’s perfectly reasonable to start out by doing shorter periods of exercise on a daily basis. Soon enough, you’ll find longer stretches of workout time will come to you much more naturally.
If a stressful or busy event causes you to accidentally miss your daily workout, that’s okay. Many people take this as a “sign” that their new fitness routine is too difficult to maintain, or they use it as an excuse to also let their healthy eating habits fall to the wayside.
Alternately, eating something that you’ve been avoiding for health reasons, whether that’s sugar or processed food, is not a reason to throw your entire nutrition plan down the toilet. It’s not going to ruin all your progress if you slip up every now and again—but it will if you let that stop your routine.
Explore Instagram and other social media platforms for fitness and nutrition experts that inspire you. They often post about their daily routines and hacks that help them stay on track, even in little ways. It’s a great way to personalize your own routine—just pick and mix all your favorite tips!
Remind Yourself Why You Decided to Make this Resolution
Maybe you wanted to get in shape to walk down the aisle at your own wedding this summer. Perhaps you were hoping to learn guitar so you can finally put those lyrics you’ve been writing to music. Chances are, your goals for the year come from a deeper reason.
Whether your New Year’s resolution was to stop swearing (around your toddler, who is newly repeating and saying everything), find a job that you love (after quitting your previous, slightly soul-sucking one for moral reasons), or finally kicking your smoking habit (per the gentle request of a concerned partner), you chose to go for it because its results were important to you.
To help yourself stay inspired and motivated, it can help to make yourself a physical reminder of your goals. A few ways to do this?
If your resolution was to eat healthier and find a better fitness routine, what results did you have in mind? Many of us are hoping to look their best in their summer wardrobes and bathing suits. Some people like to visualize these goals by making physical “vision boards.” These could include photographs or some bathing suits and summer outfits you’d like to wear, and beaches you’d like to visit.
Why did you choose your goal? Instead of just thinking about the reasons, physically list out all of the things that you’ll be able to do once you complete your goal. Instead of just reading it, however, use it as a checklist. Every time you do one of these things for the first time (like have an entire conversation in French, drive on a highway by yourself, or run a mile without feeling stopping), you can check it off and feel proud of yourself.
Chances are, somebody has embarked on a similar path to you and had common goals. Do a bit of research about some articles, books, interviews, or quotes from these people—you might find yourself especially inspired to continue on.
Find an Accountability Buddy
If there’s somebody else who knows about your intentions, you’re more likely to follow through with them. This is doubly true if you actually ask them to hold you accountable—and it’s even better if they are working on similar goals, so you can do the same for them.
A few ideas?
If your accountability buddy lives in the same city as you, it helps to work on your goals in tandem. For instance, if both you and your pal are hoping to treat your bodies better and enhance your fitness and self-confidence, it makes sense to hit the gym together. Some fitness centers even offer special team coaching sessions.
Have a no-nonsense friend who always tells it like it is? They’re the perfect person to go to if you want to help kick a habit. Have them take fifty cents from you every time you swear, bite your nails, or perform another habit you’re trying to kick. Just don’t avoid them in order to indulge the habit!
You don’t need to live in the same place as your friend to hold each other accountable. A daily text message asking for and sharing progress can be an incredible motivator.
If you perform well under pressure, this tip is especially well-suited for you. Setting deadlines for your goals might feel a bit demanding, but it pays off when it increases your motivation instead of letting your efforts drop off. This can work in quite a few ways:
Have an upcoming wedding, festival, party, or other social event? Use that to your advantage— it can help you accomplish your goals. That can mean fitting into a dress or tux in your goal size, having finished a project that you can then tell others about at the event, or being able to say that you went through the entire festival without a cigarette.
Many resolutions are lifelong goals. It’s a nice idea to “check in” with yourself as the seasons change.
You’ve worked hard, and you definitely deserve some self-care that reflects everything you’ve done to achieve your goals and resolutions. So, if you’ve spent months working out to sculpt your dream body, bring yourself on vacation to show it off. If you finally quit ciggies, get a nice new haircut and outfit to celebrate that they won’t smell like smoke. If you finished your novel, throw yourself a party! You deserve to reflect on your hard work and feel rewarded for it.
Just Show Up
It might seem almost too simple, but the easiest step of accomplishing any goal is simply showing up. Come to the gym, even when it’s raining. Do your language homework, or go to rehearsal, or keep on studying. Show up, don’t give up, and eventually, your goals will feel closer and closer.
Your goals have never been more within reach at Jack City Fitness. With both in-house and online courses, our partnerships offer a healthier lifestyle for anybody—not just Boise locals. Our passionate coaches run an impressive array of services, from personal training to nutrition skills to group classes. It’s our goal to help you maintain your goals and completely nail your resolutions—no matter what time of year it may be. We’re open 24 hours, and we’re always here for you—winter, spring, summer, or fall. Get in touch with us today about partnering up with our unique fitness center—we can’t wait to help you find the best routine to meet your goals!
Getting old is inevitable, but getting old and frail doesn’t have to be. When you think of extremely elderly people, you often think of the stereotype of a person with a cane or walker moving slowly, taking tiny steps in fear that they’ll break a bone. While osteoporosis is extremely prevalent and something to worry about as you age, you can strengthen your bones with exercise and healthy eating. Here in Boise, ID, many people find that adding strength training to their weekly workout schedule doesn’t add time, but it has extra benefits, such as strengthening bones and shedding weight.
The older you get, the more your muscle tissue atrophies. That’s called sarcopenia. As you grow from childhood to somewhere in the 30s, you build muscle tissue. Once you hit a certain point in the thirties that process reverses and you start losing muscle tissue, unless you do something to stop that, like strength building exercise. When you have more muscle tissue, they tug on the bones, causing the body to send calcium to build the bones. As your muscle tissue dwindles, you start losing bone mass, since there’s less tugging on the bones. It doesn’t stimulate the body to build the bones, so normal bone loss increases, rather than increasing or remaining at normal rates.
Not all exercises are equal for improving bone density. The amount of muscle exertion employed, the rate of muscle strain and the frequency of the strain is important. Strength building exercises like weightlifting puts a lot of muscle force on the bones, high impact exercises like plyometrics provides a high rate of muscle strain and running creates a repetitive movement for a long time, increasing frequency. One study showed that jumping 20 times a day with 30 seconds between jumps increased hip bone density after 16 weeks. Don’t forget balance exercises to help prevent falls.
You need lots of green leafy vegetables to help you increase bone mass and a good source of protein. Protein helps increase calcium uptake, while the leafy vegetables provide calcium and other nutrients, including vitamin C that boosts the growth of bone growing cells. Don’t forget to either get adequate exposure to the sun or eat foods high in vitamin D. Studies show that people low in vitamin D are more prone to bone loss. Vitamin K found in liver, eggs, meat and fermented foods like sauerkraut, also helps boost the creation of bone cells.
A healthy heart can help you live a longer, fuller life. Getting older doesn’t have to mean your heart won’t function properly. You keep your heart strong and even boost your heart’s strength when you exercise regularly. It’s never too late to start working out, either. Even people who have had a heart attack benefit from regular exercise. Of course, you need to follow your doctor’s orders and begin slowly, especially if you are out of shape. In most cases, no matter what your health condition, most physicians are pleased when patients want to start exercising, but definitely find out first from the doctor.
Not only does the heart get stronger when you workout, it gets more efficient. Exercise also boosts circulation to the heart and helps improve the dilation of the arteries that provide blood to the heart. It lowers blood pressure the longer you do it, since it causes other blood vessels in the body to dilate. High blood pressure can cause heart disease. The longer you exercise the better you heart muscle can get oxygen from the blood and the more controlled the sympathetic nervous system is
There’s no doubt about it, what you eat makes a huge difference in your heart health. Most people initially think of cutting out salt when they first learn they have to make dietary changes. They’re right for thinking so. Salt contains sodium and high levels of sodium in your body increase your risk for heart disease, as well as other problems, like stroke. Cutting out processed foods and boosting your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables is a start on heart healthy eating.
Certain types of fat are actually heart-healthy. For instance, not only does butter from grass-fed cows contain higher amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin K-2 than butter from grain fed counterparts. It contains the fatty acid CLA—conjugated linoleic acid—which can help you lose weight and is, just like the Omega-3 and K2, extremely heart healthy. K-2 rids the arteries of calcium, lowering the risk of osteoporosis, too. Butter also contains saturated fat. Don’t freak out. It’s all actually heart healthy. In fact, newer studies show that eating butter from grass-fed cows can actually boost heart health.
How long you should exercise can vary by the exercise, but there’s no doubt about it, there is a sweet spot, where it’s the perfect amount of time. That’s why you should time your workouts to make sure you’re getting the right amount without overdoing. Of course, you have to make sure that you’re really exercising. If you’re going to the gym, spending time walking around or even talking to others, with a few exercises in between, you aren’t getting the same amount of exercise as someone who focuses totally on the workout.
You’ve heard of too much of a good thing? Well that can be true of exercise. When you do a tough workout, particularly when you’re working on building strength, your body needs down time to rest and rebuild. In fact a tough workout, while burning off the hormones of stress, creates other stresses. It can cause the immune system to be down for as long as 72 hours. Strength training, in particular, causes micro tears in the muscle tissue that when repaired makes them stronger. If you don’t give your body that day or two rest between sessions, it can’t repair itself.
A heart rate monitor is a help to see how fast your heart is beating, but you can perform a simple test. If you can easily talk or even sing while you’re working out, you’re not pushing yourself enough. You should also feel a little sore the next day, but not in excruciating pain. If you’re pushing yourself too much, you won’t see improvement and your workouts will become harder. You’ll hit the wall quicker. Don’t try to push past it, especially if you’re starting to hate exercise. Make sure you take a day or two break from the gym.
Not only will you start to hate working out if you’re overdoing it, you’ll also start to develop a sour mood about everything. It’s similar to what you see when someone is on the verge of getting sick. There’s anger, irritability and even depression. Your immune system might be down and you’ll get ill more frequently, but most of all, you’ll get fatigued more quickly doing everyday things. It’s not like the normal exhaustion you felt at first when you worked out, it’s more pervasive.
While farmers are finding ways to increase milk production, speed up growth and improve the amount of eggs a hen lays, the public is actually left being Guinea pigs, to see if these changes in farming contaminate the food. Many people worry about hormones in food and the potential for antibiotic resistant bacteria because of the changes. There are ways to bring beef cows to full growth 20% faster and make salmon grow twice as fast. While some of the changes come from genetic engineering, some are from the use of growth hormones directly given to the animals. How does that affect the people that consume the meat or animal products?
Recombinant bovine growth hormone—rBGH—is a synthetic hormone that increases milk production. Studies show that it has no negative effects on people, at least directly. It does increase the production of insulin-like growth factor—IGF-1—in people who drink the milk that contains it. That hormone mimics the actions of human growth factor, but also increases the risk for breast, prostate and other forms of cancer.
Farmers make more money if the cattle is heavier, so sex hormones—primarily estrogen—are often given to the cattle to make them fat. It’s been done for well over fifty years. It’s given via an implant behind the ear to all beef cattle—unless the cattle is raised organically. Antibiotics are given to cattle, chickens and pigs to induce growth. Some scientists believe this may be part of the reason for the pattern of earlier onset of puberty, which is averaging seven months earlier than it did before the trend began.
Cows given the hormone rBGH have a higher incidence of mastitis—infections of the udder. They then receive even more antibiotics to clear the infection. Does it add to the potential of antibiotic resistance bacteria? According to the FDA and food industry, you’re safe from all harm, whether it’s antibiotic resistant bacteria or as a result of cow hormones. Remember, the FDA is also the same bureau that said trans fats were good for you and still blame healthy fat for heart disease, rather than sugar.
One of the biggest health issues for seniors is getting adequate nutrition. Even when you have access to shopping and plenty of money, health eating when you’re older isn’t easy. There are a number of statistics that show that malnutrition is prevalent in older people, even in Boise, ID. In fact, some types of low nutrition is often mistaken for dementia.
Often seniors living alone simply don’t want to take the time to create a complete meal for themselves. One solution is to have healthy food already made and frozen in individual portions or have fresh fruit and vegetables cut up and ready for consumption to graze on all day long. Dental issues, a meager budget, digestive issues and food intolerance also add to the difficulty of eating healthy. Buying in-season fruits and vegetables, preparing several meals at once and freezing them and careful planning can help overcome those problems. Nothing is healthier and easier to make and eat than a smoothie made with lots of fruits and vegetables, plus protein powder.
A pot pie or TV dinner might seem like a great alternative to cooking, but you won’t get all the nutrition you need. There are options. For those chilly winter months, making soup not only adds warmth and moisture to the air, it also provides quite a few meals for a low price. Using bones to create the broth also adds collagen to your diet. One recipe even shows using the bones from rotisserie chicken from the grocery to make bone broth. You can make the broth ahead and when you find you have too many vegetables cut up or left over, take out a bag of broth and make soup! It’s a way to stop waste while eating healthy. Add a side salad and some fruit for dessert and you have a nutritious meal.
There are estimates that a high percentage of seniors suffer from vitamin D deficiency. While it’s easy to understand in our areas during the winter, it shouldn’t occur at other times. The sun is a free and natural source for the vitamin. Smart sunning should be part of everyone’s day. The ultraviolet rays are converted to vitamin D by the body. As people age, the amount converted is reduced by approximately 70 %. Muscle weakness, bone pain and fractures are a few of the results from a vitamin D deficiency.
There’s nothing wrong with doing cardio, but if you want to lose weight, it’s shouldn’t be at the top of your list. Are you putting in the effort, but not seeing the results? There’s a lot of reasons why that can occur. If you’re only doing cardio and omitting the other forms of fitness, strength, flexibility and balance, you won’t be doing yourself any favors. You’ll probably be able to run a mile, but may break an arm from a fall or hurt your back trying to lift a light package to “run” to the post office. These are reasons you need more than just cardio, but how else is chronic cardio a waste of time.
Not only will you not get the best results, you might even sabotage yourself and make it harder. Think about the physique of a distance runner. It’s slim and not very muscular. That’s because cardio burns calories, but it doesn’t discriminate the type of tissue it uses to do that. After approximately forty-five minutes, it burns lean muscle tissue for fuel, rather than fat tissue. By contrast, strength-building exercises also burns a huge amount of calories, but it also builds muscle tissue rather than decreases it like cardio does. The more muscle tissue you have, the higher your metabolism, so you’ll burn more calories 24-7.
While you might go crazy doing cardio for hours every day, most people simply don’t love it that much. In fact, most people don’t have that much time to dedicate to working out. You can keep some cardio in your workout, but changing it from straight running types of cardio, to a cardio workout with kettlebells will do you more good. You’ll get strength-building, endurance (cardio), flexibility and balance from that type of workout, plus burn a huge amount of calories. HIIT and circuit training are also types of exercise that can combine cardio with other types of exercise. You get more bang for your exercise time.
Think about doing just cardio like eating just Lima beans. Even if you love lima beans, after a while you start hating them when you eat them too many times. It’s hard enough to stick to a workout schedule if you are doing something you love, but sticking with it after you’ve had your fill can be almost impossible. Even worse, if you’re trying to shed weight, you’ll not get the rapid results as you might with strength building workouts.
If you haven’t already heard of the Fitbit, you may be one of the few. Just what is Fitbit and how does it work? Fitbit is a step counter, but much more than just that. It not only counts steps but also acceleration, intensity and patterns. It’s far more precise than other older devices that simply measured numbers of steps. It uses the motion patterns of your walk and sets a threshold where that amount of motion counts as a step. It uses your height and sex to determine many things, like running stride and the amount of calories burned. Although, newer models actually use a GPS application to track stride. Some measure heart rate and use it in the calorie burning calculation.
If you’re new to fitness, a Fitbit or other tracker could be a great way to get motivated to keep active. It does have its limitations, though. First, many of these trackers notify you that you’ve hit a goal of 10,000 steps that day and you’re done. There’s no need to go any further, right? That’s not necessarily true. The 10,000 steps is an arbitrary number from research in the 1960s in Japan. It’s based on the number of steps it took for a Japanese man to burn 3,000 calories. Newer Fitbits track all sorts of things, not just steps. So if you’re technology smart and learn to use it effectively, you’ll get a clearer picture of your workout.
It’s like getting membership at the gym. Just buying a membership won’t get you any healthier, thinner or fitter. The same holds true for a Fitbit. You have to dedicate yourself to using the information it provides and actually working out to get results. Just wearing it won’t help. Some studies not only provided financial incentive to use the tracking device to get fit and showed no marked improvement, until that financial incentive was removed and their level of progress dropped further. These are older studies, but demonstrate that just owning a device isn’t enough. You have to want to succeed.
If you’re one of those people who love a challenge and compete with fervor to win (even at baby shower games), then the Fitbit could be a real plus for your new program of fitness. However, you can also get the same rush by working out at the gym and tracking your results. Whether a device tracks you or you do it by noting the number of reps or amount of weight you lifted, it’s all the same. For those couch potatoes, even if 10,000 steps is a random number, if a Fitbit gets you off the couch and walking more by reminding you to do it, it’s well worth the money.