The Fitness industry can be guilty of deceiving the public when it comes to realistic expectations. Some programs tout fast results, like “abs in 30 days!”. Others use fitness models on their advertisements, leaving our brains to draw the conclusion that this person became ripped from just 90 days of calisthenic training.
But abs aren’t built in 30 days. As a matter of fact, everybody already has abs. They just only “show” when someone has a very low (sometimes unattainable) body fat percentage.
And the models used on these ads have been working out for many years, probably using heavy weights. They likely eat incredibly restrictive diets, and are instructed to drink very little water a few days before their photo shoot, as this makes muscles look more pronounced. These are just two examples of the truth-bending strategies that people use to sell their get-fit-quick schemes.
The Truth Depends on Who’s Asking
These aforementioned practices are precisely why we don’t recommend making fitness goals based on what you’ve seen on Instagram. Every single body is different- which means, that each one has its own unique version of “fit”. Bone structure, for example, will largely determine which areas of your body are more muscularly prominent. And genes have a lot to do with this, too.
Instead of setting unrealistic goals for your body (which isn’t something you have too much control over), set goals for your performance in and outside of the gym.
For example, don’t set a fitness goal of losing all of your arm flab in three months- but see how much heavier you can go with the dumbbells you use for your bicep curls. Maybe this translates to lifting a several hefty bags of groceries from Lemon Street Market up the stairs in one trip.
And don’t aim for a six pack- see how much longer you can hold a plank after 90 days. Then, take note of your posture. Do you walk a little bit taller? Have less back pain? Find that you have more stability when climbing the rock walls at Spooky Nook?
The best fitness goals you can set for yourself still demand hard work and consistency, but don’t attempt predicting the future. They make life easier. They don’t stress you out by demanding impossible results.
Before setting goals for yourself, whether it's in FIT Studio or not, be wary of the unrealistic expectations the fitness industry sets for you. No matter what your goal is, patience and self discipline is a requirement. There is no cheat code for health.
Luckily for us, what we have to gain is more amazing than we can ever imagine.
To start or continue your fitness journey, schedule a free consultation here.
(Or Feet. Or Shins. Or Hips.)
We can’t avoid it- running is a high impact sport! We’re cringing just thinking about all of the knee, hip, and shin pain that’s about to occur city wide as Lancaster gears up for the Red Rose Run. The good news is that many of these injuries are entirely preventable. Follow these tips, and you’ll be right as rain come race day.
1. Don’t Push it!
A common mistake that first time runners often make is going too hard, too fast. We know! Running can be exciting, and pushing the limits can feel incredibly rewarding! But ultimately, training consistently and gradually over a longer period of time will be more effective, and it’ll also keep you safe. The general rule of thumb is to only increase your mileage by 10%- that means, if you’re running 3 miles today, don’t go beyond 3.3 this week. Also, don’t forget to train for the hill on South Duke Street! Approaching a hill for the first time on race day is a recipe for injury. An easy way to do this is just practicing on the hill itself- and remember to slow down your pace when you do so.
2. Stretch, Rest, and Recover.
Don’t forget to take your rest days seriously. It’s during these periods of recovery that your muscles rebuild. Disturbing that process prematurely can lead to injury, but most frustratingly, it slows your progress. While we’re at it: don’t forget to foam roll and stretch. You’ll feel sore less often, which means you’ll be able to train more often and efficiently. And if you find yourself injured or need advice about recovery, feel free to reach out for some tips!
3. Stay Hydrated and Fuel Your Body Properly
Did you know that you should be drinking an additional liter of water per every hour of exercise? Are you refueling your body with a protein and carb heavy meal post workout (try an Oola Bowl from Central Market!)? Give your body what it needs in order to be the well oiled machine it’s meant to be! Not only will you prevent aches and pains, but the results may surprise you.
4. Strength Train a Few Days a Week
Listen, we get it! Runners gonna run. But they also can avoid getting hurt by taking a day or two a week to spend some time strength training. It may not be your favorite way to sweat, but the benefits of training your glutes, core, hips, and back are BIG. Think: improved posture, less low back pain, reduced likelihood of knee injury, and more power in your legs.
Every muscle in our body is connected, working in systems to make movement as easy and possible for our bodies. When we functionally train our core and back, we fundamentally spend less energy during a run holding our upper bodies up. And when we do a few squats a week, we’re building the muscle we need in our glutes to gain speed. If you’re not sure where to start, we can certainly help. Click here for a free consultation.
Otherwise, we’ll see you on race day!
When we start looking to change the way we eat, it’s inevitable that folks will start popping up out of the blue with all sorts of advice. Popular trends like KETO and intermittent fasting are all the rage right now, capitalizing on the concept of “restriction”, whether it’s an essential nutrient, calorie intake, or when we eat.
The truth is that- yes- consuming less calories, especially calorie dense food helps us lose weight. But these are not realistic long term solutions for everyone. It’s a well known fact that 95% of all diets fail- so why do we keep failing to identify these fads as what they are?
Why They Work (At First)
When dieters first adopt their new habits, it’s normal for them to start feeling better. Aside from the “master cleanse”, most diets are rooted in basic, truthful concepts; loading up on vegetables, limiting portion sizes, drinking water and avoiding sugar/alcohol. As new dieters detox their bodies, restrict their calorie intake and hydrate themselves properly for the first time in years, their body is bound to react positively.
But as time goes on and other life events take precedence, high maintenance trend diets tend to slip away from the average person. Eating out becomes increasingly difficult- maybe money is tight, and we can no longer afford the shakes we’re buying. Maybe we don’t have time to pack our lunches for work, and maybe cooking something different from what our family is eating every single night becomes too much to bear.
Before we know it, we’re back at square one. The likelihood that we regain that weight is now much higher.
Permanent Solutions for Everyday Life
With so many different bodies, lifestyles, and circumstances in the world it’s difficult to determine the universal magic recipe for successful, long term weight loss. But people who find the most permanent solutions simply tend to adopt sensible eating habits.
While educating ourselves about nutrition is time consuming, the advantages are limitless. Books like Food Rules by Michael Pollan dive into how simple a healthy diet can be, and Podcasts such as this one by Monica Reinagel gives us sensible, small ways to change how we eat (also, short enough to listen to on a work commute).
Nutrition and weight loss are common sense. All of these resources will tout the same thing: avoid processed foods and sugar, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, drink as much water as you can. In Lancaster, we have abundant access to fresh, seasonal produce. We can stop by Central Market once a week to load up on some fresh veggies, or swing by Silantra for a healthy Bing Bowl when we’re pressed for time to cook.
Local interest in healthy lifestyles are growing, and small businesses are increasingly looking to include alternatives that help us eat and live sensibly. By patronizing these restaurants/farms, you’ll not only be nourishing your body- you’ll also be helping Lancaster grow into a healthier community!
The New Year is upon us, shockingly fast in my opinion. It’s time to write down a couple short term and a couple long term goals for 2019. Saying you’re going to do something is one thing, writing down what you want to accomplish gives it life. Having it on paper and putting it in a place that you see every day give it weight and importance. A daily visual reminder of the promises you made to yourself.
To paraphrase Rachel Hollis, you wouldn’t break a promise to your best friend so stop breaking promises to yourself. Stop disrespecting yourself by making excuses for not living your best life. Learn to say no to some things so you can say yes to the really important ones. Making your health and wellness a priority is not selfish. Taking care of yourself first is what needs to happen or you won’t be able to take care of anyone else.
So back to writing down your goals. Vague doesn’t count, it makes room for cop-outs. I highly recommend using the SMART system for stating your goals. Let’s break this down. Mobility work is something I struggle to get done each week So I’ll use that as an example.
S: Do 15 minutes of foam rolling and static stretching three times per week.
M: I will log in my calendar a large M on the days I roll and stretch for 15 minutes. This way I can look back and see when I have done the work.
A: I have the ability/knowledge to accomplish this. I will continue to consult trusted resources for ways to mobilize my creaky, stubborn, tight parts.
R: Yes, I have the time and knowledge to do this.
T: I want to start on 1/1 and assess where I am on 2/28.
Break out those pens and maybe treat yourself to a new notebook to keep track of your progress and get writing.
Happy New Year everyone, cheers to accomplishing our goals!
I am tired. Tired in a way that is difficult to explain and in-turn difficult to understand. My full-time job can be mentally, emotionally, and physically draining. This week was the first two in spades. Generally people wonder why nurses work three to four days per week instead of the standard five day work week. The easy answer is we tend to work more hours in a day, so we then have our weekly hours completed sooner. The truthful answer is because of weeks like this one. When we honestly wonder, at the end of our shift, how we will muster the mental and emotional strength to return the next day. Shifts can be soul crushing. And no, I’m not being dramatic. If you know a nurse ask that person if they have cried before during or after a shift. The tears hardly ever happen in-front of non-nurses, these are private moments when we lose our handle on the compartmentalization of our feelings. Nurses are bastions of self control. We do not flinch when we care for people in their most mortifying times of life, we control anger when treated poorly, we summon empathy for and try to see the good in even the most ornery people. All of this takes a toll. It feels like you give away a little piece of yourself every time you do it. Some days it feels like you have given every bit of yourself away and have nothing left. Nothing for the people you love most, nothing left for yourself.
My coping mechanisms aren’t for everyone, but they work for me. I am enthusiastic about them and want to tell people how well they work. I get it, I can be a bit over the top about it. Having found something that works so well I want to share it with others so they too can care for themselves and be healthy.
Some of the ways I cope with this stress, and life stresses in general, are reaching out to others and talking about it, exercise, eating well and nourishing my body, making sleep a priority, meditation, allowing myself to do nothing… these are the main ones. Having varied healthy coping mechanisms in place and part of my toolbox has seen me through some very dark times. I encourage everyone to reach out when in need, to nourish their bodies with food that makes them feel well, to rest, to move every damn day in a way that makes you sweat, to take the time to stop and sit with yourself, to breath deeply, to allow yourself the joy of being content and enough and know that you are loved.
P.S. Leave a comment and let me know how you handle stress. I like learning new skills for life. You never know when your unique idea will be the key to success for another person.
“How did you sleep last night?”
Take a moment and really think about the answer. Is it “ok” “terrible” or “great, I woke up rested”? When was the last time you woke up feeling rested? When was the last time you woke up feeling like you didn’t sleep at all? With these questions posed I thought I’d scratch the surface of the topic of sleep this week.
Decreased sleep has been linked to all kinds of overall health issues that at the least will make life unpleasant and at the most kill us. Plus, to top it all off if you are constantly running on the preverbal E your performance in the gym will suffer and reaching your goals will be harder than it has to be. Plus if you are well rested your workouts will feel less difficult and you’ll have more mental stamina to push yourself.
Why do we sleep? The truth is we still don’t know why we sleep. Science is looking and collecting data and still no answer. We do know that when we sleep our brains process and deal with the events from the day, we store memories, and the brain cleans house, literally getting rid of substances that slow it down. We know that sleep deprivation literally makes us ill and we also know that without sleep we die. No one has figured out why yet, but they’re working on it.
In the mean time what can we do to promote good sleep in our daily lives? Good sleep hygiene is important. So let’s start there. What is sleep hygiene anyway? It is defined as habits and practices that are conducive to sleeping well on a regular basis. In other words, what you do before you hit the hay directly affects how you sleep. What are some things you can do to improve your sleep hygiene?
The data shows that the blue light all of our gadgets emit negatively affects our sleep, so turn them off/don’t use them for the last couple hours of your day before bed. Look, I get it, my phone is my alarm so I have to look at it right before I go to bed to make sure my butt gets to work on time. Limit your exposure and you’ll sleep better. Also the lighting in your home acts in the same way, so if possible use dim lighting in the hours before you go to bed. The room where you sleep should also be cool, 64⚬ is ideal. Apparently our bodies do better sleeping in cooler temps, who knew? Research is also showing that the room shouldn’t be silent; that our brains are hardwired to listen for sounds that indicate all is well and it is safe for us to be completely vulnerable in REM sleep. If you don’t get into REM and/or aren’t in it long enough your brain can’t handle all it’s business. Essentially it is like you having a day where no matter what you start you can’t get anything completed. We all know that doesn’t end well. So how do you solve this dilemma since the t.v. emits blue light? Sound machine apps! Yep, there’s an app for that. Pick the sounds that seem to sooth you the most and off to dreamland you go and hopefully stay. The ideal number of hours of shut-eye is eight, if you can get nine you’re a rockstar. We live in a busy world and shutting life down for the night can be difficult.
Go to bed earlier, no really it’s ok… you’re not old you are smart and managing your health.
Best regards and good sleep to all,
Here are a couple articles I found on sleep. There are tons more on Google Scholar for your perusal, good bed-time reading. Enjoy.
Sleep Health: Can We Define It? Does It Matter?
Daniel J. Buysse, MD
Sleep, Volume 37, Issue 1, 1 January 2014, Pages 9–17, https://doi.org/10.5665/sleep.3298
Published: 01 January 2014
Joint Consensus Statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society on the Recommended Amount of Sleep for a Healthy Adult: Methodology and Discussion
Consensus Conference Panel Nathaniel F. Watson, MD, MSc M. Safwan Badr, MD Gregory Belenky, MD Donald L. Bliwise, PhD Orfeu M. Buxton, PhD Daniel Buysse, MD David F. Dinges, PhD James Gangwisch, PhD Michael A. Grandner, PhD, MSTR, CBSM ... Show more
Sleep, Volume 38, Issue 8, 1 August 2015, Pages 1161–1183, https://doi.org/10.5665/sleep.4886
Published: 01 August 2015
Hello FIT Studio Family! I really enjoyed spending the day taking over the FIT Studio Instagram last week and I hope you enjoyed the insight into my day. I thought a lot about each of my posts, but one of them really stuck with me and I’d like to delve into it a little deeper today.
During the day, I shared with you my last long run before the Philadelphia Marathon and talked about the importance of scheduling time for self-care and scheduling time to work toward your goals. So, what are goals and why are they important? According to dictionary.com, a goal is, “the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end”. Simply put, a goal is the noun; it is a flashy, shiny thing that puts stars in our eyes when we think about it. The term ‘goal setting’ is used extensively in the fitness industry, but often its meaning can be lost in sets, reps, and weights. There is initial excitement when a goal is first set – we’re excited to envision ourselves completing the goal and how we’ll feel once we do. Whatever goal is set, we think about the outcome and where we’ll be in three months, six months, or a year once the goal is met. But, after a few days or weeks, the initial excitement can wear off. We can lose focus of the goal as we’re putting in the work. The work becomes tedious and the goal can seem out of sight or too far away. We miss a day and think that we’ll be able to make up the missed work some other time. However, this can all add up until the goal is forgotten or pushed further into the future. The goal is the end, but how do we get there?
Though it is extremely important to set goals for ourselves to work toward so we know where we’re going, it is perhaps more important to focus on the journey – the follow-through. In the above example, the goal is the shiny light at the end of the tunnel, but the follow-through is the unseen hard work and grit in the darkness of the tunnel. It is often unnoticed by the outside world and it’s not pretty or shiny like the goal. Often, we don’t think about the follow-through when we’re setting the goal and it can drag us down once the initial excitement of goal-setting wears off. However, without the follow-through we cannot realize our full potential of meeting the goal. Again referencing dictionary.com, follow-through is defined as, “the act of continuing a plan, project, scheme, or the like to its completion”. Follow-through is the verb; it is the action of directing our efforts to enact our plan to reach the achievement of completing our goals. It is the running of the race to reach the finish line – the goal. And it is a continuous effort; it is days, and weeks, and months of planned hard work through the darkness.
So, how do we endure the journey to reach the light? We schedule time with ourselves to enact our plan, whether that time is set aside every day or a few days each week. We stick to the plan as much as we can – life happens, but we have an action plan ready to set us up for success when curveballs are thrown our way. We set micro-goals so we have victories along the way to remind us of how important our goal is and how extraordinary it will feel to meet the goal. We surround ourselves with a support team who understand our desire to achieve our goal and can help build us up when the journey gets tough. And we keep digging through the dark tunnel with grit and passion so one day we can reach out and grasp onto our shiny goal and declare it complete.
I’d love to hear what your goals are and how you are scheduling time to enact your follow-through each day! Let me know in the comments!
I just got back into the swing of normal daily life after more than a week of vacation. While being off from work and getting out of normal routine is fantastic and recharges my batteries I always find it helpful to do a post-mortem of how I spent my time. Did I eat well? Did I exercise? Did I rest both physically and mentally? Did I get good sleep? Did I eat well?
Overall the verdict is yes. I grocery shopped at Aldi, while in Florida, and used the condo kitchen to its full extent. I even took advantage of the gas grill and made grilled chicken. I ate my usual breakfast of eggs and fruit. I only ate one meal out at a restaurant, which helps with control of both portion size and the healthiness of the meal. In full disclosure I did order myself a custom birthday cake and ate a fair amount of it before giving the remainder away. I paid for this with how I felt, but since I do not normally consume my body weight in cake, I felt that I would not count this as a loss. While camping we ate what we cooked and our meals were meat and veggie focused. I swear being outside makes food taste better.
Did I exercise? I most certainly did. I love vacation exercise. Generally no time constraints are to be had. I can play around and try out new things and just generally have fun. I walked daily, I ran twice, I found and went to Gold’s Gym in Largo twice. I used my first run to explore the town I was staying in and get the lay of the land. The second one was on the morning of my last day in Florida and I ran at sunrise. This run felt very special, like a moving meditation for my soul. Watching the world wake up has always held a special place in my heart. My first trip to Gold’s Gym was fun because, ya know, figuring out a new gym; what they have and where in the world they keep it. I was very proud - I remembered a lock for the locker! My second day there was a fun trip because I took time to try out some new to me exercises and play around with more ab work than I normally do. On the whole the place was not crowded, clean, friendly staff, and had everything I needed to complete my planned workouts. While camping we hiked each day enjoyed being outside in nature and soaked in the spirit lifting benefits of being in the woods.
Did I rest both physically and mentally? Yes, and No, during my time in Florida I went between time alone on the beach and at the condo and time with my family. The stress came in-between as I was driving. I find driving in Florida to be incredibly stressful. Back in PA and camping with my guy was some of the most stress free time I had all week. We had no where to be and all day to get there and took full advantage of it. Even when we went into the town of Jim Thorpe and figured out that we should have just parked in that giant lot we saw, there was no stress. Just found a turn around and went back to it. I also find that sleeping in the great outdoors is very restful. I returned home full of energy and with a refreshed attitude of happy calm.
Did I get good sleep? Once again I have to say yes, and no. My first night in Florida is a hot no. New place and alone I never sleep great, not having to set my alarm was nice though. As the days passed I did end up sleeping better. Then when we went camping we were using a new air mattress that worked perfectly. I slept really well, I like sleeping in the woods.
Taking time to recharge your batteries is as important as the amount of work you put into your daily grind.