By Be Well Health Coach Kerry Bajaj
Have you ever been to weight loss camp? This summer I got to visit the Premier Fitness Camp outside of San Diego. I showed up there thinking I was in good shape – I’m a health coach, I’ve run four marathons, I’ve climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. Well, let me tell you, it was a humbling experience! There were “campers” of all shapes, sizes, strength and fitness levels. And each of us was pushed to the limit, working out from 6am to 5pm. There was a ton of variety – hiking, strength training, Zumba, yoga, water aerobics. My favorite was a class called “Full Body Attack” with 10 stations where you had to do squats, boxing, biking, lifting, push-ups and swinging this heavy medicine ball for two minutes each. I went to bed that night with my heart racing, and woke up the next day more sore than I had been since field hockey camp in high school.
My biggest learning was that our body loves variety. I came back home and started to mix things up much more – incorporating yoga, running, weights, stretching and even swinging around a medicine ball.
Here are the top 7 fitness tips from the awesome trainers at Premier Fitness Camp:
1. Watch Out For Hidden Sugars and Drinking Your Calories
- Tips for reducing your sugar intake include:
- READ LABELS. Some drinks look healthy but actually contain a lot of sugar. Vitamin Water has 33 grams of sugar in a 20-ounce bottle! Fruit drinks are loaded with sugar as well (Snapple has 41 grams of sugar). Soda is the ultimate sabotage for a healthy body – a 20-ounce bottle of Mountain Dew has 77 grams of sugar. Diet soda is not a healthy alternative. AVOID ALL SODA. PERIOD!
- Mixed drinks and fruity cocktails have a ton of extra sugar and calories (sometimes up to 900 calories!) Keep it clean with alcohol – go for the “skinny” option, red or white wine or tonic water. Limit to 1-2 drinks and save it for the weekends.
- With coffee be careful of added sugar, sweeteners, and whipped cream. A Starbucks Venti Frappuccino has 400 calories and 60 grams of sugar. Yikes!
2. Replace the Thought, “I Can’t” With, “I CAN!”
- Keep your thoughts positive and be aware of negative thoughts. Debbie Downer thoughts pop into everyone’s mind at some point – learn to swiftly switch out the negative thought with a positive thought. Instead of, “I will never get the body I want,” replace the thought to, “I will continue to make healthy lifestyle choices and work towards having a healthier body.”
- Being optimistic is a learned behavior that requires training. Everyone experiences failure. Those that succeed view the failure as a temporary situation and take it as an opportunity for GROWTH. Change your perspective and view the next failure as a chance to take charge!
- Tips for staying positive:
- Visualize your day and how you want it to go before getting out of bed in the morning.
- Keep a gratitude journal and write down 3 things you are grateful for every night before bed.
- Keep positive quotes and fun pictures of yourself on the fridge.
3. Move Every Day
- Increase your physical activity throughout the day by sneaking in extra movement. Examples include: taking the stairs, using the bathroom on a different floor, parking further away, walking or biking places, taking the dog out, doing body weight squats or lunges on a lunch break, dancing when your favorite song comes on, and basically anything that requires a little muscle activity and gets your heart pumping! Ten minutes of exercise is 100% better than no exercise.
- Plan your exercise schedule each week and stick to it! Be realistic and set the amount of time you will need for it. Schedule time for cardio, strength training, and flexibility each week.
- Tips to increase movement each day:
- Enlist a workout partner to join you.
- Wear comfortable shoes to work and keep a pair of running shoes in your car.
- Pack your gym bag before you go to bed.
4. Get the Most Bang for Your Buck in Your Workouts
- Have you ever been guilty of “going to the gym” but spent the time catching up on news while slowly pedaling a recumbent bike? While training at a low intensity, the body does utilize a higher percentage of fat compared to glycogen stores for energy, however increasing the intensity of exercise not only saves time, but increases the health benefits tenfold. Interval training alternates between short bouts of intense activity with lower levels of intensity or rest. The benefits of interval training have been shown to improve aerobic capacity, burn more calories and fat after the workout, increase metabolism, and best of all, keep workouts exciting and challenging. Plus, you don’t even need equipment to do a high intensity interval workout. You can do a quick workout in your living room, down the street, or at the park. All you need is a watch to time yourself. The best part is you can do an intense workout in only 15-20 minutes versus plug away on the treadmill for hours on end and achieve the same benefits. A rule of thumb for intervals is you shouldn’t be able to carry on a normal conversation during the high intensity interval – this is called the “Talk Test.”
- Some tips for interval training:
- Add intervals of sprints, hills, or stairs to your normal jog or walk.
- Ramp up the level on the treadmill/elliptical/bike for 20 seconds and bring it down for 40 seconds; repeat every minute.
- Run fast for one minute, walk for two; repeat the 3-minute cycle 5 times for a total of 15 minutes.
- Do calisthenics (jumping jacks, push-ups, squats) after every two minutes of cardio.
5. Try Something NEW
- Don’t underestimate your strength! Challenging your body in new ways helps recruit more muscle fibers and improves your fitness. Have you tried a pull-up yet? Get after it! You are stronger and more capable than you think. Have you played a sport in awhile? Join a kickball league or pick up basketball in the park. Have you ever tried to surf? Take a surf lesson or rent a board. Mixing gym workouts with sports and other activities is a great way to spice up your exercise routine. You can do it! Believe in your strength and determination.
- GET OUTSIDE. Studies reveal that most people are low in vitamin D. Take your workout outside and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. Just 10-15 minutes a day of sun exposure can provide the recommended dose of vitamin D. Studies have shown that vitamin D reduces risks of chronic disease and depression. So, just taking a walk around the block at lunchtime can recharge the battery AND improve your mood and boost your health.
- Tips for trying new activities and getting outside:
- Write down a bucket list of activities you want to try and start checking them off.
- Look up local sports teams to join.
- Take lunch outside.
6. Get to Bed on Time
- Sleep is SO important! Sleep deprivation actually causes us to eat more and feel less satisfied. Bummer, right?! The hormones leptin and grehlin control feelings of hunger and fullness and are altered with lack of sleep. Altered sleep cycles cause leptin levels to drop, which decreases satisfaction after eating. In contrast, grehlin levels increase, which stimulates appetite, and can cause overeating. Aim for at least 7 hours of sleep and stick to a regular bedtime. Control your stress by focusing on your breath at bedtime and take some deep belly breaths to slow everything down. Try relaxing music and a good book to get your mind and body ready for sleep. If you find your mind racing at bedtime, jot down your thoughts and your to-do list to allow your mind to quiet down.
- Tips for getting more zzz’s:
- Gradually go to bed 10 minutes earlier from your usual bedtime until you reach the desired new bedtime.
- Wake up at the same time every morning to stay in a normal routine.
- Prepare for sleep one hour before bed by dimming lights, turning off electronics, and setting a relaxing atmosphere.
7. Set SMART Goals
- Goal setting is a powerful tool to inspire change and stay motivated. Goal setting is not only important to move forward in a career but is extremely valuable for health and fitness goals. Writing goals down on paper is a key part of goal setting, as it helps commit to the goal.
- SMART goals include:
- SPECIFIC – write a detailed goal rather than a broad goal. Example: I will reduce soda intake to one a week vs. I will reduce sugar
- MEASURABLE – include an accountable element to the goal to keep track of progress. Example: I will eat 5 veggies a day vs. I will eat more veggies.
- ATTAINABLE – make goals that are challenging yet in reach of your abilities. If you accomplish all your goals easily, make them more challenging! Break up long-term goals into short-term goals to facilitate the progression towards reaching the bigger, life-changing goals.
- REALISTIC – write a goal that is relevant to you, inspires you, and is practical for your lifestyle. However, don’t be afraid to write down your wildest dreams as well!
- TIMELY – setting a date to the desired time of completion is essential, otherwise your well-thought out goals might float around for years. Set a date you wish to achieve the goal and do your best to stick to it. Example: I will be able to do 5 pull-ups by December 31st, 2013.
Lastly, allow your goals to be adjustable. Sometimes life gets in the way of our goals. A sprained ankle, a work trip, a sick kid, you get the idea. Allow for flexibility within your goals, as you may need to extend the date of the goal or get back on track after a lapse.
Remember, health and happiness is a lifestyle. It is your CHOICE to adopt a healthy lifestyle with diet, exercise, and a positive attitude. Follow these Top Tips and you will be on the road to a healthier you!
– Casey McFarland, MPH, NASM – CPT
– Health tips from PFC experts: Jessica Janc, Diana Salom, Todd Bassler, Dejinira Lee, Wendy Sallin, & Ryan Gutierrez