It’s already mid-summer and your supposed to be rocking that beach body by now. Instead you’re wishing it wasn’t 90 degrees out so you could hide under more layers of clothes. You’re doing everything you’re supposed to, hitting the gym like crazy and eating more salads than ever (after all who wants to eat hot food in this humidity), yet none of it’s working and that six-pack’s looking more like a two-pack. It might even be fair to say that you had a better body pre-summer. How is this possible? Here are 5 reasons you’re getting fatter in the summer time and some natural ways to remedy them!
1) You’re eating more frozen treats. Fro-yo anyone? Even though this dessert is no fat/ low fat and a so-called “healthier” option it is packed with sugar and horrible chemicals. And let’s not forget about all the delicious toppings you put on there. What started out as an innocent low calorie dessert has now become more calories than eating half a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. Let’s stop being delusional people! A great way to fix this craving is by buying your own frozen yogurt from the store. Stony Brook Farms makes a delicious frozen Greek yogurt and it’s more natural and I guarantee you’ll eat less than you would at a yogurt shop. You can also try making your own “ice cream” by freezing a banana and putting it in a blender (banana-whip). Try mixing with cocoa powder and a little peanut for a take on a “chunky monkey” for a great organic treat.
2) Drinks anyone? When the weather’s warm there’s more happy hours and outdoor functions to attend. Who wants a low sugar, dry glass of red wine in this heat? Most of us opt for sugary white wine or a mixed drink, like a frozen margarita (a whopping 280 calories and 42 grams of sugar). Check yourself before you wreck yourself! It’s fine to indulge once in a while, like on a tropical vacation, but this kind of behavior on a school night is a recipe for the a muffin top. If you must drink, switch to vodka club with a splash or orange juice or cranberry, or my favorite a mojito without the sugar. Believe it or not the mint and lime juice flavor it enough.
3) Do you have a Starbucks Gold Card? Who doesn’t? I can’t wait until my points build up and I earn a free drink. Have you noticed though, that the lines at 3pm in the summer time at Starbucks have doubled? There’s nothing more exhilarating to get you through the last couple hours at work than sipping on an iced Frappuccino. If the previous statement is really true, it might be time to look for a more exciting job. But seriously there are better ways to cool your body down and don’t knock these ideas until you actually try them. First of all drink more water throughout the day so that you don’t constantly crave other kinds of beverages. The craving for a sweet drink is actually your body craving WATER! Try an unsweetened iced green tea and if you have to have a sugar fix, put in a packet of honey. When the honey gets hard from the ice it’s way fun to suck up little balls of sweet deliciousness through a straw. Mint tea also has incredible cooling properties to calm your sweat down.
4) Eating out more. Summer, summer, summertime, time to sit back and unwind. It’s so much more fun to head out to a restaurant in the summer, than it is in the colder months. On a great breezy night, sitting outside with great company and food can be heavenly. One problem is you seem to be doing this more and more, meaning your scale is now hidden in a dark corner afraid to be used. Try not to let summertime be an excuse to eat out at a restaurant more than twice a week. If you love socializing over a meal, invite people over and cook something healthy for them. If you have access to outdoor space and a grill, then you have no excuse not to have most things you enjoy at a restaurant right in your own home.
5) I’m so much more active in the summer! Oh, you mean you walk to and from work or you go to the park more often? Yes, that is more active than sitting on your ass watching TV, but it doesn’t quite make up for the ice cream and beer you had the night before. Moving more is fantastic and I encourage you to do as much as you can, but a 1 hour leisurely walk only burns 200-300 calories, while the plate of french fries you just ate has 400-500 calories (let’s not forget about all the extra calories from the ketchup). How about being more active and working out traditionally, by doing cardio and weights.
So no more excuses in the summer, it really is the time to show off your hot bod!
My wish for this blog is to convince those clients who are choosing to leave cross-training workouts before yoga stretch or final rest to rethink their poor judgment.
Stress opens the door to illness. I say this to people who get sick a lot, but they often don’t believe me or not enough to actually do something about it. The irony is that what people need to do to create a healthier immune system is to actually stop and do nothing.
Our mind-body systems have the most amazing abilities to heal and fight off disease, and these internal sensors are triggered when under any kind of stress. It is like our internal security system and it’s worse than any airport pat down. When stress triggers the survival impulse of fight or flight, we cripple our immune systems and essentially unlock the doors to disease.
The nervous system reacts to stress by secreting hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) that mobilize the body’s muscles and organs to face a threat. The problem is every day worries, such as deadlines at work, financial pressures and family concerns are not the type of emergency that can be helped by these physiological responses. As humans we haven’t evolved much past our cave men days. Shifts flow from the limbs to the organs and blood pressure increases, among other biological responses that tax our system and redirect energy away from non-essential functions such as immunity and digestion.
When we experience deep relaxation conversely we release muscle tension, lower blood pressure and slow breathing and heart rate. Clinical studies have shown that this creates shifts in hormone levels such as serotonin and growth hormone. These hormones help to repair cells as well as increase levels of helper cells that defend against inflammation and infectious disease. This has in fact been known for many years through the pioneering work of Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, director of the Stress Reduction and Relaxation Program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. His programs which use basic breathing and visualization techniques were once called “New age medicine” but are now recognized in tons of hospitals around the world.
“Many studies have shown that the relaxation response can reduce stress and enhance wellness in healthy individuals and counteract the adverse clinical effects of stress in conditions like anxiety, diabetes and aging,” says Herbert Benson, MD, director emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute.
Did you hear that? Regular relaxation counteracts aging! So save money on expensive eye creams and surgery and slow the aging process at the source by taking a load off and learning to relax. Seriously, relaxation is a skill and practice just like exercising and the better you are at relaxing, the healthier and younger you will remain. Did you know that Siddhartha, the first Buddha and devote meditation teacher, lived until about 80. According to the National Center for Health Statistics,the average male lifespan is only 76 currently, and was as low as 58 in 1930, so can you imagine what it was 2500 years ago. I think maybe we should consider he was on to something.
Rest is not enough because we can rest without really being relaxed. When we cannot sleep because our mind is burning with thoughts, excitement, panic, etc. we are resting our body, but not our mind. Relaxing is a deep state of mind and body where we let go of our fears, our plans, our anxieties and settle into the feeling of the present moment without resistance. We need some form of meditation.
Now the power of relaxation isn’t achieved by just a few experiences either, it needs to be a regular practice. At least a couple times a week for 10-20 minutes. Furthermore, studies have shown that the more regular and long-term the practice of relaxation the greater the benefits.
Yogis and meditation practitioners have known the power of relaxation forever, but now Western science is finally learning exactly how this takes place. Just recently, researchers at Harvard Medical School discovered that, in long-term practitioners of relaxation methods such as yoga and meditation, far more “disease-fighting genes” were active, compared to those who practiced no form of relaxation.
In particular, they found genes that protect from disorders such as pain, infertility, high blood pressure and even rheumatoid arthritis were switched on. The changes, the researchers say were induced by what they call “the relaxation effect”, a phenomenon that could be just as powerful as any medical drug, but without the side-effects.
While relaxation techniques can all be very different, their biological effects are essentially similar. “When you relax, the parasympathetic nervous system switches on and that is linked to better digestion, fertility, memory and immunity, among other things”, explains Jake Toby, hypnotherapist at London’s BodyMind Medicine Centre. I personally have found yoga and meditation to be immensely healing, enjoyable and I rarely get sick since I became a regular meditation practitioner several years ago.
These are just the benefits on immunity from the relaxation associated with yoga and meditation, not to mention benefits to your body structure, happiness, and creativity. Often we need a sense of permission or justification for taking the time, even if only for 5 minutes, to truly relax. That is why it was so important to me to include yoga stretch and final rest in Unite’s cross-training. Unite gives you permission, the directive and techniques to relax every workout.
Please be conscious of all these benefits to deep relaxation. If you are interested in creating a meaningful meditation practice, my best recommendation is utilizing the Shambhala centers found in most cities. In fact, there is a beginner course I highly recommend starting in September called Meditation in Everyday Life. Check it out @ www.philadelphia.shambhala.org
Relaxation is sacred, healing and provides personal time. Embrace it and practice.
Chris N leapt into the program a year ago by chance and has never looked back or looked better.
Chris dropped 25 pounds and melted so much off that he looks 10 years younger with a muscular frame replacing a soft belly. Chris has also got his spunk and old running pace back, taking on road races again, and reviving his past Boston marathon prowess.
Congratulate Chris in the Mt. Laurel, NJ studio.
Summer is the easiest time for us to embrace relaxation in our lives. The weather improves, the light stays longer, people take vacations and the world seems to slow down a pinch. While it is more natural in summer we need relaxation all the time. Our society created 2 days each week and several special times each season when we are given permission and even the directive to relax. Why do you think that is?
Our bodies and especially our minds can only be worked so long before they drop in performance and fall into ruin. Early on through basic experience we learned that we could optimize our overall productivity and creativity by balancing the work with periods of rest. Now the science is beginning to catch up with what we already know and giving us more insight into the power of rest, sleep, meditation, etc.
Rest is generally meant as moving very little or with little effort, but we can rest without really being relaxed. When we cannot sleep because our mind is burning with thoughts, excitement, panic, etc. we are resting our body but not our mind. This mental stress agitates the mind and is even converted into chemical responses in our bodies adding a secondary physical stress. This is why all our Presidents look like they age 10 years during a 4-year term. The subtle energy of furrowing your eye brow, thinking hard or nervously moving about puts a strain on us that we are just now starting to fully respect and understand.
Relaxing is a deep state of mind and body when we let go of our fears, our plans, our anxieties and settle into the feeling of the present moment without resistance. There are great ways to get into this deep state readily available: music, massage, yoga, breathing, candlelight, walking, acupuncture and interesting new techniques like floating. Learning how to relax is as important as learning how to pay attention or take initiative, yet our society doesn’t seem to value it as such currently.
Often we need a sense of permission or justification for taking the time, even if only for 5 minutes, to truly relax. On holidays we have permission, but if we are in charge of the house or dinner it can quickly be lost in business. That is why it was so important to me to include yoga stretch and final rest in Unite’s cross-training. Unite gives you permission, the directive and techniques to relax every workout. I am continually astonished and saddened when any clients leave Unite’s group cross-training before yoga stretch or even just the final rest and massage. Relaxation is sacred personal time, embrace it and protect it.
UFD Cross-training “Fun” Runs are open to everyone and consist of 5k (3.5 miles) of running around our amazing city with 5 strength station stops along the way. The strength stops are nothing crazy hard y’all but these fun runs give you the flavor of our big annual event the Unite Fitness Decathlon on October 11th in Newtown, PA!
This year’s fabulous NEW PHS Pop Up Garden will be the start and end to the UFD Fun Run Thursday July 10th @ 6pm, as part of their opening week festivities (Garden Opens July 8th!)
PHS [Pennsylvania Horticultural Society] is not just your mother’s club anymore. PHS is the premiere organization behind many of the beautification and urban farming projects we enjoy in Center City and the brillance behind the super popular, often talked about, PHS Pop Up Garden.
Last year it was on Broad Street with Jose Garces fast casual food and great beers on tap. This year they have decided to Pop Up on 1438 South Street turning a vacant ugly lot into the hippest place to grab a summer drink in town from July 8 through mid-October. This year’s lush green space features tropical cocktails, cold beer, and flavorful dishes served by the Jamaican Jerk Hut, as well as delicious selections from the region’s best food trucks.
DATE: Thursday July 10th
TIME: 6pm (be back in about an hour) – Start and finish at the PHS Pop Up Garden – 1438 South Street
DONATION: $10 benefits the very cool PHS City Harvest program, which creates green jobs and brings together a network of community gardeners who raise fresh, healthy food for more than 1,200 families in need each week.
GIFT: ONE FREE DRINK in the Garden
The Unite Fitness Decathlon (UFD) – Oct 11th, 2014 in Newtown, PA.
The UFD is the next generation of racing, taking racing beyond a little mud or climbing a fence by adding in real fitness elements to a 10k trail run. The UFD draws its inspiration from the original Olympic decathlon, where determined men and women competed to be considered the best all-around athletes. Rather than just testing your distance running, the UFD will challenge your overall strength, power and endurance with a series of ten fitness challenges along the 10k course, including: weighted lunge walk, suspension chest press, box jumps, rope slams, and others. WATCH THE TRAILER VIDEO!
You’ve just been through nine months of pregnancy – all the changes, all the anticipation – and, now, you are reading this in between late nights, early mornings and every-hour-of-the-day-attention to your precious bundle of joy. First of all, congratulations! What an amazing journey you are on! Second of all, your body and mind feel like they’ve been through the wringer, right?
If you are like 99.9% of new moms, the idea of starting or re-starting a workout program to “bounce back,” is right there on the back burner, waiting for you to make a move. And, if you are like most new moms, you are also feeling unsure of how or when to make that move. Or too tired to make that move. Or too pre-occupied with making sure you are even eating enough to make that move. If this sounds familiar, relax. I have a 4-step plan that will help you get into (or back into) your best shape!
Talk to your doctor. If you are less than 13-24 weeks out from delivery, had any complications whatsoever during labor and delivery or you are experiencing more pain than expected during recovery, have a conversation with your doctor about kicking off your post-pregnancy workouts. This is your chance to field any medical questions or concerns to avoid injury or developing chronic pain. I would highly recommend being as specific with your doctor about the type of workouts you would like to start or re-start. Gentle flow yoga versus high intensity cross training will probably warrant a different opinion. If you are struggling with bladder incontinence and/or Diastasis Recti (fancy word for the common separation of the abdominal wall during pregnancy to make room for baby), contact a physical therapist who offers rehab for these two specific issues.
Talk to a personal trainer. This might require some research, but, like me, there are certified postpartum fitness instructors out there who are happy to meet with you to talk about safe and effective ways to rebuild a strong foundation for you to get into (or back into) your best shape. In my opinion, two keys to reaching your goals are consistency and creativity. With a personal trainer or coach on your side, you are much more likely to persist with your routine without allowing it to become a rut. A good trainer will never repeat a workout (I probably should never say never!), will pay attention to your reaction to certain exercises to know which to cut and which to keep pushing and will keep you on your toes. This is all nearly impossible to do on your own, especially when you have important responsibilities other than exercise on your mind.
Get serious about sports bras.
No kidding! I am serious about this step for two reasons: 1) You will thank me when you feel the difference wearing a sports bra that actually supports you brings to your workout. There are now labels for sports bras that will tell you the type of activity they are best for. For the time-being, mama, stick to “high impact” sports bras. Stock up on a few. And, 2) The simple act of going out on a mini shopping spree for yourself will feel so rewarding. Let’s face it: you deserve it! Call it “retail therapy.” Whatever you name it, you probably know the feeling I’m talking about. A new outfit, a new hair style or treating yourself to a nice lunch can make a big difference in the outlook on your day. If you are feeling the least bit anxious about this new fitness journey, simply buying a few new pieces of workout clothes can be a motivator and shift your mindset from resistant to ready!
Do these 3 moves as soon and as often as possible.
1) Dynamic Bird Dog: In one move, you’ll release tension in your back while strengthening your core, arms and wrists. Set up in table top (on all fours), making sure your knees are in line under your hips and your wrists are in line under your shoulders. Extend one leg behind you, squeezing your butt cheek. At the same time, extend the opposite arm in front of you. Begin drawing your knees and elbows in toward each other, creating a tucked position in your body. Extend back out to the starting position. Repeat 10-15 times on each side. If your wrists are in pain during this exercise, drop down to your forearms and do the leg extensions and knee tucks only.
2) Supported Roll Backs: In a seated position, pull your knees in close to your chest with your hands behind each knee. On the exhale, pull your belly button as far back toward your spine as possible. At the same time, slowly straighten your arms and lower your back toward the ground. Stop when your arms are completely straight. Inhale and return to the start.
3) Chest, Shoulder & Upper Back Stretches: Bring relief and mobility back to these tired and achey areas for most new moms (feeding, holding, feeding, holding, etc.). You can do these stretches standing, sitting and lying on a stability ball or a foam roller. Pick a position that feels really comfortable to you. Here’s one that I do all the time with my clients: Stand with feet parallel, about hip width apart. Open
both arms out to the sides, draw your shoulders down and back, and try to squeeze your shoulder blades together as you try to press your arms closer together behind you. Hold for 5-10 seconds and then slowing bring your arms together toward the front until your hands touch. Interlace your fingers into one fist and try to push your arms forward without leaning forward, drawing your shoulders forward, feeling a gently pull in the upper back and a hollowing out in your chest. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat the entire sequence a few times or as many times as you want as long as it feels good!
Written by Kate Jesuele (Unite Fitness trainer)
Just an amazing transformation, Steve never liked gyms much so he did Unite’s Virtual Boot Camp program TWICE, first the beginner version and then the advanced and cut 9% Body Fat, 35 pounds, 6 inches and now he is feeling confident and coming to a studio to train!
Purchase by Friday June 27th
The perfect motivation to get yourself back into the studio for the best cross-training workouts anywhere. This is a once-a-year summer sale event for Unite Mt. Laurel so take advantage of these specific short-term mark downs on group cross-training packages:
- 10 PACK: was $185 -> NOW JUST $149 (SAVE $35+)
- 25 PACK: was $375 -> NOW JUST $299 (SAVE $75+)
Members of Future Fitness enjoy a discount off these rates, lowering prices even more!
- 10 PACK: was $165 -> NOW JUST $139 (SAVE $26+)
- 25 PACK: was $325 -> NOW JUST $269 (SAVE $56+)
Unite’s 3 Day Summer Sale is only on group packages. Regular rates apply for nutrition packages and unlimited monthly memberships.
To Buy Contact firstname.lastname@example.org, 267-337-4365
or attend a session and ask the coach to write you up an agreement.