CategoriesBlog Move.

Seven Habits That Will Transform Your Life

Many of us set health and fitness goals to change the way we look — but transforming your health and fitness habits can also change every aspect of your life. Not only will you look better, but you’ll also feel and think better.

Follow these seven highly effective habits to become the best version of yourself:    

Habit #1 If you are not assessing, you are guessing. 

When it comes to health and fitness, ignorance isn’t bliss: It’s important to constantly assess and monitor your nutrition. In order to make a change, you need to know your starting point — which means tracking your nutritional habits. While counting calories may not be a long-term solution, it will give you your strongest weapon in any successful transformation: awareness.    

Pro tip:  If you are not assessing, you are guessing. 

When tracking calories, do keep in mind that too much restriction can lead to failure.  This is normal, and it’s why adopting a flexible approach is essentialA general rule of thumb is to eat healthy 80 percent of the time, while treating yourself the remaining 20 percent. By accounting for the occasional indulgence, you’ll be able to quickly get back on track.   

Habit #2 Follow the six-month rule. 

Create habits that are sustainable for at least six months. While shortterm fixes can lead to quick results, they are often unsustainable — and you’ll soon end up back at square one. When you are developing your nutrition or fitness plan, ask yourself: “Can I do this for half a year?” If not, it’s time to reassess.   

Pro tip: The best training program is one you enjoy and able to stick to in the long term while making consistent, measurable progress. 

Habit # 3 Eat mostly whole and minimally processed foods.

The saying “You can’t out train a poor diet” is 100percent true.  It doesn’t matter if you’re busting your butt in the gym: If you are eating poorly, it will be difficult to lose body fat. Focus on eating minimally processed, whole foods. 

What do we mean by “whole foods”? Follow these guidelines when eating: 

  • Stick to foods your grandparents would recognize. 
  • Shop the perimeter of the grocery store; for example, choose the produce section over the cereal aisle or the snack foods. 
  • Eat one serving of fruits or veggies (the size of your fist) with each meal, and eat a variety of colors when doing so. 
  • Replace calorie-dense and artificially sweetened drinks with water. 

Habit #4 Eat enough protein. 

Proteins are essential for repairing and building muscle, so make sure to eat one or two servings with every meal. It’s also the most important of the macronutrients; if you are going to overeat one of them, make it protein.  

Other benefits of eating protein include: 

It prevents muscle wasting: Muscle tissues are the most metabolically active tissues. Along with resistance training, consistently hitting your protein intake helps you retain your muscle while carving away fats — which will ultimately show off your muscle definition.  

It keeps you full:  When caloric intake is low and you have those cravings for carbohydrates, protein is your BFF.

It burns more calories during the digestion process:  Protein has been proven to be up to 30 percent more metabolically expensive than carbs or fats. This means that if you have 100 grams of protein, then your body will burn 30 calories simply by breaking the protein down into usable amino acids.  

Habit #5 Focus on building muscle 

any still believe that building muscle is only for bodybuilders. Strength training is for everyone, and has proven to help people be more active, keep fat at bay, live longer and improve self-confidence. 

The most efficient way to build strength and muscle is to focus on the main compound lifts. These lifts use multiple muscles in one movement, giving you more bang for your buck.  

Most of your compound lifts should include the following movements:  

  • Squat 
  • Hinge 
  • Push 
  • Pull 
  • Lunge 
  • Carry   

To build muscle, you also need to emphasize progressive overloadlifting heavy weights while properly executing each rep. Progressive overload also means you’ll need to challenge yourself by constantly adding weight. However, you should always emphasize form and technique over the amount of weight you’re lifting; piling on the weight with poor technique will do more harm than good. 

Habit #6 Drink plenty of water and/or calorie-free drinks. 

Proper hydration can have a significant impact on your health, performance and weight. Most of us know we aren’t drinking enough water, but we may not be aware of the potential problems that can arise from dehydration. 

The main reasons dehydration has as adverse affect on exercise and overall health are that it: 

  • Decreases blood volume and blood flow 
  • Decreases heat dissipation and removal of wastes from exercise 
  • Decreases metabolism  
  • Decreases body temperature 
  • Increases organ stress 

The general rule of thumb is to drink half your bodyweight (in pounds) in ounces of water. That means a 150-pound person should drink at least 75 ounces of water — about nine standard glasses — each day. Carry a water bottle, drink it up and refill it every two hours or when empty. 

Habit #7 Sleep like a baby again

Sleep is often the forgotten component of health. In fact, it’s equally important to your workouts and nutrition. As many as 30 percent of adults sleep less than six hours per night: the minimum amount necessary for proper health. If you think you can make do with less than six hours, think again.   

Pro tip: Both sleep quantity and quality are incredibly important for optimal health and fitness and for regulating our circadian rhythm. 

  Need more reasons?  A lack of sleep can negatively impact: 

  • Cognitive ability 
  • Recovery from exercise and injury 
  • Sex life  
  • Mood and dietary decisions 
  • Workouts 

Get six to eight hours of quality sleep every night. Without proper sleep, it’s difficult to see significant improvements in general health and/or fitness — and your body, your workouts and your performance will suffer. 

By sticking to these seven habits, you’ll transform your health and your life with results that really last. Come to Flow Fitness today to get started on your journey.   

CategoriesBlog Live Fit. Move.

Create Success in Fitness

It’s one thing to know what to eat, which exercises to do and how to do them — but it’s another thing altogether to do all this consistently.  If you have tried and failed to establish long-term, healthful habits, then you know all too well what I’m talking about.

Any kind of change, even toward healthful habits, can feel stressful. Without question, your habits are more powerful than your desires or motivations; while motivation can kick-start you, it’s your habits that will power you through to the end.

The key to making successful changes is understanding that the path isn’t linear. Follow these steps to create healthy habits that will last your whole life.

1. Set some goals — TODAY!

The first step toward making improvements is to create some goals. Most people think goal-setting simply means choosing something to work for that they don’t have (e.g., losing 20 pounds) — but there’s more to it than that.

Saying you want to lose 20 pounds isn’t a goal; it’s a statement. Successful goal-setting is both a science and an art form. Your goal should be specific and realistic; involve both short- and long-term components; and focused on your behavior, rather than on the outcome.

2. Make them specific and measurable

Going back to our example, “losing 20 pounds” isn’t a solid goal because it doesn’t give you anything measurable or specific to work on. What’s more, scale numbers are unreliable, as your weight can fluctuate up to five pounds throughout the day based on what you’re eating.  However, simply changing your goal to “losing 20 pounds of body fat” is specific, since it refers to losing one thing — body fat — and it’s measurable, since it targets a number: 20 pounds.

3. Challenge yourself, but be realistic

A good goal is big enough to inspire you to action — but not so big that you can’t accomplish it, leaving you feeling frustrated. A goal such as, “I will work out 5 times a week” is a bit too lofty for someone who hasn’t been working out.  Instead, pick a goal such as “I will work out 3 times a week”. That’s challenging, yet realistic.

4. Frame your goals around behavior, not outcomes

Make sure to set behavioral goals — those based on things you can directly control — rather than outcome goals: the end product of a series of behaviors. The sad truth? Too many people only set outcome-based goals, such as:

  • I want to lose 20 pounds.
  • I want to make $100,000 a year.
  • I want to squat 315 pounds.

While these goals are specific and measurable as well as challenging and realistic, there’s one problem: They’re focused on the outcome, which is beyond your control. You can’t control your rate of fat metabolism, or force your boss to pay you more.  You can, however, focus on your behaviors.

Try these types of behavior-based goals:

  • I will exercise five times a week.
  • I will eat protein with every meal.
  • I will have either fruit or veggies with each meal.
  • I will drink 150 ounces of water daily.

In the end, if you set goals based on your behavior and things you can control, your outcome goals — such as losing that 20 pounds — will fall right in line,  without you having to worry about them. (Well, except for that $100,000 salary; I’m still working on that one, myself!)

4. Have both a short- and long-term vision

In order to achieve your challenging yet realistic goals, you must break them down into even smaller behavior-based goals. Set the smallest goals just for today, the bigger goals for next week and so on. Save your very biggest goals for later. In this way, you’ll create mile markers on the road to success.

5. Share your goals with someone else

Once you set specific goals that you’re committed to achieving, tell someone else your goals right away. If you keep your goals a secret, it’s easier to either ignore or completely forget them.  But sharing with another person helps keep you accountable; they can hold you to a higher standard, so you’re more likely to get things done.  If you’re up to the challenge, share them on social media and create your peronal online support group.

Remember, what gets measured gets managed. Set goals you can achieve, focus on small behavioral changes, share your plan with someone else — and you’ll be primed to succeed.

CategoriesBlog Move.

Training For Strength… Is it for You?  

Yes.  Yes, it is.

When I meet a potential member, I always ask them about their goals. For the most part, I hear roughly the same answer: Lose ___ lbs.,  tone (insert body part), and usually something that has to do with their core – at which point they frantically point to their abdominal area. I rarely hear that someone wants to get stronger (unless I am working with an athlete), which makes me wonder if training for strength is reserved for only those with athletic performance goals? Or is it something all of us, regardless of size, shape, age, or activity, can (and should) look towards improving?

Training to be strong can benefit everyone, and should be an area we all look to drastically improve. Training for improved strength generally consists of working with  a resistance  that only allows for 4-6 repetitions with proper form. Most believe that they are getting stronger through classes such as body pump, boot camps, HIIT, and even some CrossFit sessions, but you really are not training for strength during these sessions.  The weight isn’t heavy enough, the reps are too high, and the rest period is too short. Most of the training you are experiencing in these formats are for muscular endurance, conditioning, and hypertrophy (muscle building).  These classes have amazing benefits and should be part of your training routine, however, there are also great benefits to traditional strength training.

For starters, training for strength requires a tremendous amount of neuromuscular control and activation which helps with balance, stability, and coordination. Making vast improvements in these areas translates favorably into your daily activities  including walking upstairs, picking up groceries (or a child), getting up off of the ground, climbing, and running, to name a few. Further, because the primary adaptations to traditional strength training are neural, you can get considerably stronger, without added muscular development (contrary to popular belief). In other words, you can add strength without getting bigger. For all you “core” enthusiasts out there , training with heavy weights is one of the best things you can do to strengthen your hips, lower back, and abdominals, as core strength is a major factor in accomplishing a successful lift.

Another great benefit of traditional strength training is minimizing the loss of bone density (or in many cases improving bone density) as we age, particularly among females. Healthy bone density is crucial in reducing the occurrence of osteopenia and osteoporosis. Finally, strength training puts a tremendous amount of (good) stress on the connective tissue, including tendons and ligaments, which helps with joint integrity and drastically reduces the chance of injuries.

Now that you have learned about some of the benefits of training for strength, here are some guidelines to follow so you can begin to challenge yourself and mix up your routine in the gym:

  • If you have never worked with heavy resistance, allow your body to SLOWLY adapt to heavier weights by starting with 2 sets of 10-12 repetitions of a lighter resistance  on  all exercises. After 3 weeks, increase your weight so that you can only accomplish 6-8 repetitions with proper form utilizing 3-4 sets per exercise. Following another 3 weeks at this intensity, you should be ready to tackle weights at 4-6 repetitions for anywhere between 2-6 sets.
  • Begin each strength exercise with a very  light warm-up set (or two) to increase blood flow, train movement patterns, and “excite” your central nervous system.
  • Choose exercises that incorporate large muscles groups (Legs, Back, Chest) and are multi-joint in nature. These exercises  include weighted squats/lunges , pull-ups, deadlift, overhead presses, bench press and Olympic style lifts. Extremely heavy loads are not recommended for accessory muscles (i.e.. rotator cuff exercises, bicep curls).
  • Because of the added neural fatigue associated with strength training, as well as the need for perfect form, adequate rest time of  2-5 minutes is required to ensure safety and successful lifts over the course of your workout.
  • If you are pressed for time or want to get  more of a “conditioning effect”, you can superset (doing two exercise in successions of each other) opposing body parts (exp: Front Squats with Weighted Chin-ups) and keep your rest between supersets around 90-120 seconds. You can also superset mobility and/or accessory exercises with your lifts.
  • Because of the neural adaptations associated with strength training, your ability to lift more weight will come faster than your connective tissues’ ability to withstand it, so keep your increase in weight modest (3-5% for Upper body, 5-10% for lower body exercises) on a week to week basis.
  • Choose only 3-4 exercises during your strength training sessions, the remaining exercises should be designated for accessory muscle groups and /or mobility training.
  • Record all your workouts, including exercises, weights, reps, sets, and rest time.

Now stop reading, grab a pre-workout meal, and go get STRONG!!!!

And if you have questions please stop in and see me, or one of the other trainers at Flow.