Many people think of a healthy lifestyle in some dangerously black and white terms. In these mindsets, people insist that daily gym attendance and rigorous diet rules are the only way to live healthfully. This point of view can actually be quite harmful, and can even come across as shaming toward health-oriented individuals who can’t keep up with those ideals. 

The truth is, no two people have the same needs when it comes to lifestyle. After all, so many factors come into play. However, any action towards a healthier lifestyle makes a difference. Health is far from a black and white issue—different lifestyle choices work for different people, and it’s important to respect that. In fact, many gyms and health centers focus on individualized needs as their speciality; that’s why personal fitness coachesand team training sessionshave become so popular. They work with the individual client’s ideas and needs, not the other way around. 

Small changes can be made in every aspect of one’s life to make it healthier. This means you don’t have to make drastic changes or follow strict guidelines, like going on an extreme or unusualdiet, or forcing trips to the gym when it doesn’t work with your availability. It means little things, like choosing the (often less crowded anyhow,) staircase over the escalator at the shopping mall. These small steps hardly feel noticeable to you—but they add up to make a big difference in your overall health. 

If you’d like to incorporate healthier habits into your lifestyle, we have everything you need to get started. Here are some of our most useful tips for a nutritious and fit daily life without any stress:

  1. Clean Out Your Pantry and Give it a Makeover

This is a great place to start. Having your staple ingredients be the healthiest and best quality versions of themselves will instantly improve your home cooking. 

First of all, check the dates on the dried spices and herbs you have kicking around your cabinet. Some of these powders have probably been kept well beyond their use-by date. Though they likely won’t harm you, they likely taste pretty musty and sad. Having fresh, high quality dried herbs and spices will make a huge difference in the things you cook.

On that note, we think it might be time to ditch the prepackaged spice blends that are tucked between your chili powder and cumin seeds. Though they’re convenient for family taco night and the like, they often contain lots of sodium and sometimes even unpronounceable additives—yuck. Meanwhile, it is fun and easy to blend your own. Plenty of blogs and cookbooks have great recipes for various spice mixes, and anything leftover will keep for months in an airtight glass jar. 

Restaurants can be a minefield for someone trying to stick to a healthy nutrition plan. A cursory glance at most menus might leave you feeling anxious, but take a closer look. Likely, there are a few options that adhere to most, if not all, of the rules you’re trying to keep. 

At many restaurants and cafes, it’s also possible to make a few small substitutions.        So, if that veggie burger sounds absolutely perfect, but you don’t want the french fries, brioche bun, or garlic mayonnaise, just ask if it’s possible for the kitchen to make it without them. Chances are, they can serve it to you without those items—in some cases, they’ll even swap them out for another ingredient of your choice. 

Were you raised to clean your plate? Many eat every last drop of food in their bowl— and that’s great! Waste not, want not, as they say. However, this is a habit that generally comes from home cooking. When it comes to restaurant meals, the portion sizes are completely different…yet we eat in the same way as if we’d cooked it at home. 

Sometimes, we don’t even realize how big our portion sizes are until after we’ve finished eating. Not only does this lead to discomfort—being overly full is the worst—but it causes us to unwittingly consume many more calories than we ever would have intended. 

A few tips?

Dining with another person? Why not split an enticing main course? Chances are, it’ll be enough to feed both of you. If it isn’t, you can always share something else afterwards. 

When your waiter asks if you would like some nachos or mozzarella sticks to start, it’s easy to take him up on that suggestion. However, not only will this cost more money, it’s an entire portion of not-so-healthy food before your real meal even comes. Skip the appetizers to better watch what you take into your body.

Many restaurants, bars, and cafes have lunch menus. They tend to be smaller portions and have more budget-friendly options. Sometimes, you can even get away with ordering them for dinner.

Alternately, sometimes a kids menu is worth pursuing. They might give you a hard time for being an adult, but there’s nothing wrong with wanting a smaller meal. (Bonus: sometimes it even comes with a fun little toy or coloring book.)

It’s hard to break out of the habit of feeling morally obliged to clean your plate. In a way this is good; food waste is a terrible problem that we should all avoid. However, if you take the leftovers and eat it the next day, you’re not wasting it. Don’t be afraid to ask for a “doggie bag,” and bring it into work the next day for lunch! 

It feels somewhat glib to say that consuming water and staying hydrated is important. It’s so much more than that. We need water—it’s crucial to our very existence. If we ignore that need, we face the harmful, even fatal danger of becoming dehydrated. Dehydration at its best is uncomfortable—symptoms even mild dehydration include lightheadedness, exhaustion, dizziness, headaches, and muscle weakness. When severe, it can result in unconsciousness, fevers, and delirium.[1]As scary as that all sounds, it isn’t, really—in most cases, it’s easy to avoid:

Sure, coffee is great. We love its rich flavor and energizing properties, as well as the social aspect of catching up over a steaming mug. Same goes for alcohol—a glass of wine with some friends after a long day is one of our top ways to relax. Even cola, which we tend to avoid due to its sugar content, is such a special treat, especially when it’s enjoyed ice cold out in the sunshine. However, as tasty as all of these drinks may be, we make sure to enjoy them all in moderation, as they can be dehydrating.[2]

Fun fact: glasses of H20 aren’t the only way to give your body the hydration it needs. Actually, many foods (particularly fruits and veg,) have such a high water content that they fit the bill. Some of our favorites include watermelon, strawberries, cucumbers, spinach, and radishes. 

When it comes to fitness and health, consuming water (and the occasional other hydrating beverage like electrolyte-packed sports drinks,) is key. It will keep your body in a position to train to your highest potential. 

 Like we said before, the concept of making healthy fitness and nutrition choices isn’t black and white. That means to ditch the idea of anything being “all or nothing.” Just because you don’t have time for the gym every day certainly doesn’t mean that you need to be entirely sedentary on the days that you can’t make it. A few ideas?

Making plans for a catch-up with your best friends? Instead of the typical group dinner or drinks meet-up, try for something more active. What you choose, of course, depends on your squad’s interests—for some, this might mean dancing the night away at a club 80’s night. For others, an adventure hiking through the woods might appeal more. Whatever you land on, it’ll get your blood flowing— and will be fun for everybody.

Now that the winter has finally ended, it’s a great idea to try and fit some outdoor activities into your daily life. This can mean riding your bike instead of taking a car or bus, strolling to a nearby park during your lunch breaks, or taking a post-dinner walk every evening. The choice is yours. 

Once you get in the habit of something, it will become second nature. Things like choosing the staircase over an elevator, doing stretches while you read or watch TV at night, going for a daily walk around the block are all easy, doable habits that fit into any schedule.

It’s never productive to work yourself to the bone. You might think it will pay off later, but that’s assuming that the stress doesn’t cause additional problems. Please, treat yourself well and let yourself take breaks when you need them!

There are lots of healthy ways to de-stress and pamper yourself. A few of our favorites are:

For some, attending a busy gym or health center can be a stressful experience—even when they want to train and work on their fitness. These days, there’s actually a solution to this problem—some gyms actually offer online training sessions. Not only are these sessions a great option for travel, they also make workouts possible even when getting to the gym is not. 

Cleanse your mind with a yogaor meditation session. You’ll be surprised by how great you feel afterwards. 

It’s amazing how a nice soak in a hot bubble bath or a even cold, refreshing shower can completely change your mood. Though many rely on them only as a cleansing method, bathing and showering can also do wonders for your mood.

It’s important to be aware of your goals. Even on a more sedentary day, you can feel productive by checking in on your progress and planning ahead for what else you want to achieve.

Ask yourself today: what are your health goals? Do you want to feel better when you wake up in the morning? Lose weight? Feel physically stronger and able to lift more? Write these goals down and hold yourself accountable for them—monthly check-ins are especially helpful for this. 

If you feel overwhelmed by your goals, we recommend breaking them down into smaller step-by-step goals. So, if your goal is to run a marathon in a year, break it down into a series of smaller and more manageable steps, like “run for at least thirty minutes daily.” It’s easier to check off smaller goals and make sure you’re keeping up, instead of just looking at the bigger picture and hoping it somehow works out. 

The busier you keep yourself, the easier it will be to stay healthy. Boredom is a killer for healthy lifestyles—how many lazy weekends have you spent watching TV and eating prepackaged snacks? 

Keep your schedule as active as you can. When friends ask you to meet up, say yes and make it somewhere that you can walk or bike to. Plan your meals in advance—not only will it save money and time umming and ahhing over what to have, it will also give you the opportunity to have more nourishing meals or even follow a special nutrition plan without anyhiccups. Have you been making small but significant changes in your daily life for a healthier lifestyle? We want to be a part of it! By partnering up with Jack City Fitness, you’ll get exclusive support from our passionate team of fitness coaches,nutrition specialists, and yoga instructors. We offer a large selection of group classes,private training, andteam coaching sessions—whatever your health and nutrition needs may be, it’s available to you right here at Jack City Fitness. Give us a call today to learn how we can work 


[1]https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/153363.php

[2]https://www.amedisys.com/resources/easy-ways-prevent-dehydration/

Lack of sleep can derail best-laid fitness plans. While hitting the gym regularly, setting goals and eating right are absolutely crucial components of getting in shape. Too often, we neglect to consider the value of rest, especially when adding a new routine to an already busy schedule. Here are a few ways that getting the right amount of sleep will help you reach your fitness goals.

Sleep helps control hunger.

Sleeping less than six hours a night will make you hungrier. Your body produces less of the hunger-controlling hormone leptin when you are sleep-deprived, leading to increased appetite. To keep cravings at bay, be sure to rest.

Sleep helps recovery.

Sleepy people produce less growth hormone and more cortisol. This makes muscle recovery take longer and increases injury risk. A good night’s sleep helps you build muscle quicker and limits downtime.

Sleep helps shed fat.

A recent study found that sleep-deprived dieters lost half as much fat as well-rested people on the same diet. The way that your body sheds or stores fat is greatly affected by the amount of sleep you get.

Sleep helps you stick to a plan.

It seems obvious, but people who sleep enough are much more likely to actually go to the gym as they planned. Skipped days are less common among people who are getting sleep.  If you get the appropriate amount of sleep, you are much less likely to hit the snooze button and bypass your morning gym plans.

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Benefits of a Good Night Sleep

As an athlete training for certain goals, one of the things that I am constantly monitoring and gaging are the numbers that I am producing during sessions. Measurements are an important part of tracking progress and checking your training’s efficiency. Every level of fitness or sport has a need to take measurements. However, the kinds of measurements and how often they are taken provide a great deal of influence on the approach and goal setting for your routine. It is important to understand the pros and cons of measurements as well as the benefits and problems they bring to a training program.

There are various ways to measure a person in regards to fitness or sport. Weight, circumference, skin folds, one-repetition maximums, VO2 max, lactate threshold, ten-repetition max, biomechanical analysis, bioimpedence, hydrostatic weighing, flexibility tests, reaction time, resting heart rate, maximum heart rate…etc. In general, there are lots of ways to measure two different things: body composition and physical performance. 

Body composition brings a lot of benefits to program planning. The majority of people who go to a gym or begin exercising do so because they want to lose weight, look better, or something along the lines of aesthetics. Body composition is directly related to the way the body looks. The benefits of measuring body composition come in the form of visual progress. Because it’s a clear number that is written down and tracked, there’s little room for interpretation and it’s a good indicator of nutritional and physical efficiency. The cons of body composition are numerous. Principally in that body composition only indicates progress in a single sense; weight is weight and weight is not body fat percentage, skeletal muscle mass, or any other item. It can also be a poor indicator of good health as most guidelines for body composition measurements are based on a very general population and often neglect to address outlying issues such as genetics, chronic disease, age groups, and previous health history. 

Performance measurements are a method of determining the body’s capacity for specific types of work: cardio, strength, speed, agility, flexibility, etc. Performance measurements are taken for a different aspect of fitness programming, which ignores body aesthetics and focuses on what the body is able to accomplish with movement. The benefits of measuring for performance tell more than just a single aspect of your fitness. For example, if you have increased your one-repetition max for a lift, you have increased mental confidence, muscular strength, muscular efficiency, proprioception, and other factors. Performance measurements also compliment other facets of your training; as performance increases, the body naturally changes to become more efficient at performing various activities. The disadvantages of performance measurements are that it is very easy to create excuses to justify a lack of progress. There’s a lot of interpretation and factors involved with performance and completion of fitness activities. It is not straight forward, making it easy to take less seriously. 

The aspects of your fitness that you wish to measure depend greatly on what you are hoping to accomplish. A good piece of advice is to not completely depend on performance or composition measurements independently. Each has their benefits and their disadvantages, making them strong compliments to one another. With proper guidance on how to interpret any of these numbers and figures involved in your fitness journey, the efficiency of your training and success of your program will rise to new levels and produce even greater results in your performance and composition. 

Every Day… A Little Stronger

By Sam Winston, Strength and Performance Coach

You walk into a gym, you have all the ambition in the world, and you feel like this is your time. You have the latest and greatest gear needed and as you enter the front door you hear the trainer tell you, “I’m going to help you get strong.” In your mind, you have a picture of lean muscle helping you conquer that local marathon and in the trainers mind a picture of a powerlifter moving impressive amounts of weight… Which brings up the question, what is strength?

 

Strength is such a relative term. It can be demonstrated in many different ways and developed in a variety of methods. There is no good or bad way to be strong, but there is an optimal way to achieve strength that will ensure success. When someone begins their pursuit of strength, the importance of proper programming and complete honesty is second to none. You can’t train like a bodybuilder and hope to have world class endurance on the bike, and you can’t train like a professional athlete if you’re entering the gym for the first time.

 

Before you begin, have a clear picture of what you want to accomplish. Talk to a trainer or coach who can guide you and teach you. Together you will develop a plan that will let you achieve your optimal strength! There are three keys to consider that will help you establish a mentality ready to not just begin your pursuit of strength, but continue until the end…

 

The Goal: number one on your list for preparation. This goal is your north star: the road taking you to what you dream of becoming. The hard part of selecting a goal is essentially that you have a choice. With so many ways of being strong, you have a variety of options to choose from between completing a family hiking trip to competing in elite sport events. Choose a goal that suits your talents and abilities, one that interests you, one that you are passionate about: one that you can succeed at and enjoy in the process. With an honest goal, you can begin to come up with a plan that will help you advance towards something. Progress requires direction, and the goal points you in that direction.

 

Specificity: when you choose your path, follow the specific ways to advance. Much like a road map, you can’t travel westward and expect to find yourself on the eastern coast line. Training like someone who is after a different goal than yourself will only take you away from what you are after. Training has no universal approach and your body will adapt to the way you train it, so if you want to run a faster mile, train like a runner, or if you want to lift heavier weights, train like a weightlifter. Talk with your trainer consistently about your program to make sure it is taking you closer to your goal. Remember to be realistic with yourself and your trainer. Being honest about where you are and where you want to be will impact your ability to succeed in the future. Everyone starts somewhere; we are all beginners at something. Starting a journey requires a beginning, the point where you will take the first step.

 

Consistency: another key to success. You can do all the right things and have all the right tools and motivation, but if you only work towards it every so often, or when time permits, or when you remember to do so, you can’t advance sufficiently to change your body. The body needs consistent work over a long enough time to adapt and transform. Remember as well, if you train one way for only a short amount of time and then switch your routine again and again, the progress you achieve will be hindered by not giving your body enough time to adapt to the movements and performance; in essence, you’re taking steps in many different directions. Dedicate yourself to a particular method that takes you towards your goals, and see it through to the end.

 

Strength comes in many forms. The pursuit of strength is a journey that requires long periods of dedication and the way you choose to approach that journey will greatly affect your success. Be honest with yourself and work specifically to your goals; consult a professional who can help you take the best route possible. Completing your pursuit of strength is one of the most important achievements of your life as it will benefit not only your physical health, but also your successes in every other aspect of your life.

 

Every Day… A Little Stronger

 

There’s a lot of talk right now about the New Year Resolutions, and all the reasons why you wont stick to a fitness program or compete your physical goals for the year. There are always a thousand more reasons why you will fail compared to those why you will succeed, instead of focusing on the reasons to fail, let’s take a look at a tool that will help you succeed! The single most determining factor of success and failure to adhere to an exercise program is your mind, not your body!

Upon taking up the challenge to complete a physical fitness goal or exercise routine, there are a few things to keep in mind that can help ensure your success in not only completing the routine or becoming more active, but also achieving your goals and then some!

One of the key factors that affect the probability of your success in pursuit of physical fitness improvement is that of your self-efficacy. Typically defined as your own self worth and ability to solve issues or fulfill your goals. It is a behavioral trait that tells you how good you are getting stuff done! When it comes to exercise, jobs, relationships, honey-do’s, projects, and other facets of life, we all start with a certain level of self-efficacy that directly helps or inhibits our motivation to accomplish the task. Improving this trait is important if you want to stick to your goals, if yo want to develop that habitual routine and get yourself into the best shape of your life. Basically, if you are uncertain of a certain skill, your self-efficacy of said skill is low, and your desire to get it done is low, resulting in a poor performance or failure to complete all together. If you are proficient at a skill, and are efficient on getting it done, you are going to have a high self-efficacy giving you more confidence and a higher probability of not only completing the task, but doing it well at a high level of performance.

What most people don’t tell you is that this characteristic is able to be developed. It’s not a genetic trait that cannot be altered and you’re stuck with what you were born with. Developing self-efficacy is a process of repetition and simple steps, progressing surely but slowly until efficiency is achieved. Emil Zatopek (the human locomotive) said it best. “If you do something once, nothing happens, but if you do something a hundred, a thousand times then you have not only just changed physically; and will power is no longer a problem.” Too many people start the New Year off with goals that make them go for the gusto and the lack of patience doesn’t allow them to see the progress made. Rather they focus on the longer distance to the end goal and forget to notice the small things that are required to achieve the big picture goal for the year. This is also the key to building this ever so important trait of self-efficacy, taking the journey day by day, week by week.

First things first, your goals… Choose goals that are achievable in a short span of time, things that don’t take too much preparation and can be acted upon quickly. You are more likely to scale Mt. Everest standing at it’s base than you are trying to save money for the plane ticket to get there.

Secondly Start simple. Start with things that you KNOW you are capable of accomplishing, as you accomplish these small things, you will inherently push yourself for more and find yourself succeeding because success is not a coincidence, it is a habit. Start small and progress from there.

Third, Keep in mind that we all start at our own level, be patient! Remember that every bit of progress (no matter how small) is still progress and gets you closer. Forget about comparing yourself to others, forget about the other people you want to impress, your greatest opponent is yourself. As cheesy as it may sound, how can you expect to be better for others when you can’t be better for yourself. Conquer yourself and watch the rest of your world improve!

Achieving self-efficacy is a process, nothing in physical fitness takes shortcuts, there’s never an effective “trick” or “secret” that can replace the efficiency and permanent nature of gaining results through hard work and effort. In achieving self-efficacy, you gain a mental toughness to not just workout more, but to do more in life. self-efficacy is translated into all areas of life. Let your mind become your greatest asset this year. Grow your minds ability to push your body to new limits and forge in yourself a new found level of strength in all areas of your life!

Our bodies are incredible machines capable of incredible feats of strength. We see it across a variety of sports and activities, where people accomplish different shows of athleticism in extremely different ways including; Endurance, Speed, Explosive, Stability, Strength, and a variety of others. These people are able to accomplish these things because of the way they prepare their bodies to perform. An incredible amount of focus towards their desired goals helps them do what is necessary to achieve optimal performance. They take out the fluff, they constantly study and refine the movements and strengths needed to enable their bodies, often times ignoring beneficial exercises with the knowledge that they are not needed to improve THEIR performance.

Performance is a characteristic of human abilities defined in a vast spectrum of ways. The human body can perform at high levels in so many ways. One thing that I constantly drill my clients is focus on their goal. Someone can train all they want, they can do different series of exercises and workout multiple times a week, but if you don’t train towards a specific performance goal, the body cannot change or adapt to enable your performance for that goal. The goal is everything.

Not all Exercises are Created Equal

Someone training for the 100m dash requires a particularly high level of activation of fast twitch muscle fibers, quick nueromuscluar communication and optimal foot position to produce high ground reaction forces, A swimmer requires high mobility in the shoulders and hips with little impact on the joints and a need for body control and buoyancy. Stating that these two athletes can perform the same kind of training and experience the same improvements in performance.

The body is made of a series of joints and hinges controlled by the muscles and the way these muscles are activated through exercise is how they respond when recruited for the activity. There are an infinite number of combinations of exercise variables not limited to sets, repetitions, light weight, heavy weight, slow cadence, fast cadence… etc. It is important to utilize the proper combinations of variables that will prepare the body for the goal activity. Much like a race car, a 1/4 mile Muscle Car is built very distinctly to a NASCAR race car, and if either were placed in anything other than their specialty, performance would suffer. The same can be said for humans and sports.

-High repetitions and lower weights is designed to increase resistance to muscle fatigue and increase higher efficiency of the energy systems.

-Low repetitions and Higher weights is a system that will increase maximal strength output and develop fast twitch muscle fibers.

-Isolated exercises tend to focus on development of musculature at specific points focusing on muscle specific adaptations.

-Compound joint exercises recruit larger amounts of muscle fibers and create greater central nervous system (CNS) adaptations.

-High Intensity Interval Training utilizes a higher average heart rate and diminished rest to test the ventilatory threshold and use fat stores as energy after depleting the blood glucose improving the cardio engine of the body

There are many more ways and variables that need to be taken into consideration, some specific exercises have no place for an athlete, some programming schemes are full of unnecessary movements that will not compliment the desired activity. With the help of a coach, these things can all be planned properly.

Training and performance are directly related to one another, improvements and increases are determined by the efficiency and specificity of the training towards the goal. If you want to run a marathon you shouldn’t train like a powerlifter. Keep focused on the goal and train for it. Stay the course.

Every Day… A Little Stronger

I have to admit that I have been writing a lot lately about the benefits of intervals, heavy lifting and generally higher intensity style training. It would almost appear as if I am against cardiovascular training. But if I’m a triathlete, how can I be against cardio? Sufficient to say, I am in no way against cardio endurance training and full heartedly embrace it’s benefits and place in the training world.

Cardiovascular endurance training is an extremely important part of any training regimen as it provides a series of benefits to help promote overall strength gains and health improvement.

First and foremost, there is no better way to strengthen your heart (considering it is a muscle) than to spend long continuous bouts with an elevated heart rate. Much like any other muscle, the more you use your heart and the more you place resistance and intensity on it, the more efficiently it will perform. This will be gained in the way of a lower heart rate, better stroke volume, even strokes, and higher capacity for work.

Secondly, keeping the body under the stress of continuous cardio stress helps improve your hormonal profile by forcing adaptations to take place by releasing endorphins and other necessary hormones to regulate your body’s ability to sustain the effort. As your body uses it’s hormones to accomplish the task, it adapts and figures out ways to be more efficient at using it’s resources to be more efficient.

Thirdly, cardiovascular endurance is a handy attribute to have, it makes living easier, it opens up the possibilities to perform a variety of activities to support your well being. Increasing your capacity to work can translate to many other areas of your life. Having the endurance to participate in all day activities and being able to do your full days work without being overly exhausted only makes life better!

There are many other benefits to adding some good cardio to your strength training routine. But listing the benefits does nothing if you don’t do cardio training properly. A couple of pointers to keep in mind when doing cardio is to properly warm up prior to performing the desired work. Most forms of cardio training puts a lot of pressure and constant stress on the joints and muscles, so avoid getting injured by doing a good warm up. Cardio training doesn’t need to last hours and hours to receive all the benefits. 30-45min of good constant training can do a world of good towards increasing your cardiovascular endurance.  Always eat something within 30min of completeing a cardio session lasting more than 20 minutes, preferably something with some carbs and protein.

Performing cardio endurance training is a huge benefit to any strength routine. The amount you should do highly depends on your goals and level of fitness, however under the direction of a qualified coach or personal trainer, you can reap some serious benefits to improving your body.

Today’s training:

10mile fartlek run

Box hops 5×10
Squats 5×5
Bench Press 5×5
-Superset with pull-up 5×5,6,7,8,10
Row machine 2x3min
Ab routine
Arms circuit