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Whether sending your child to college for the first time or getting ready for kindergarten, get ready for the shock to the immune system that comes with new surroundings. New kids, new germs, new stress. And for those going away from home from the first time, you as a parent won’t be there to make sure they eat as they should. Studies show that 95% of college students don’t eat the amount of fruits and vegetables they need! That’s where Juice Plus+ comes in for all your back to school nutritional peace of mind.
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After talking to several friends and co-workers about Orangetheory Fitness, I finally took the plunge and booked my first session this last Saturday. Even though it’s just treadmills, rowing and weights, everyone raved about how upbeat the classes were and how they couldn’t wait to go back. So, what is Orangetheory?
Orangetheory’s hour-long gym sessions are held in an upbeat group setting which is divided into intervals of cardiovascular and strength training that uses treadmills, indoor rowers, weight training blocks, and floor exercises.
During your session, heart-rate monitors are worn where the data is displayed live on a video monitor for your trainer to see your progress, and to help keep you accountable during your workout. When your heart-rate stays within a specific range, your metabolism is stimulated, your energy increases, and you experience the Orange Effect—additional energy and calorie burn for up to a day and a half after your initial workout!
Our experienced personal gym trainers will give you the right motivation to get you on your way toward your fitness goals. Whether you have a performance based goal such as increasing power, speed, or strength, or simply have a desire to lose weight and tone up in a fun way, Orangetheory Fitness is the perfect place to get you there.
There is an option to request your first class online, but I called into my chosen location to reserve a time. They asked that I come in 30 minutes before my first class to fill out paperwork and get a tour of the facility. They also recommended that I bring a water bottle and sweat towel.
When I arrived, there was a class going on and I could see how positive the trainer was. The reception area was separate from the workout room, separated by a full glass window. The receptionist was very friendly and asked about my fitness goals and how I had heart about Orangetheory. Upon completing the paperwork, she set me up with a heart rate monitor. It was the traditional chest strap model that would be used to monitor my results during class. There were lockers and locker rooms available for use, but I did not check the locker room out. The lockers had keys provided and were large enough to put a small handbag in or extra clothes during the winter, but not large enough for a full backpack. There were also hooks on the wall, if you just wanted to hang up your keys during class.
The receptionist then explained the monitor that was on display in the workout room. It displayed everyone in the class, along with your heart rate and other workout stats. When walking in you moved from gray to blue, then green, to orange, and finally red. Orange is where you were aiming to be. For every minute in orange and red, you would get a splat point. The goal was to get at least 12 splat points during class. This would encourage your body to continue burning calories for the next 36 hours. She also explained the 3 treadmill paces used – base, push, and all out.
When the first class ended, the receptionist introduced me to the trainer Timothy. As it was my first time, he ensured throughout the class that I knew what was going on and how to set up my rower and other equipment. I started the class on Rower 1. Others entering the class could choose to start on either the rowers, treadmills or weight room. Even in the weight room, there were numbered stations, so when you moved throughout class, you stuck with your number, so I moved to weight station 1, then treadmill 1.
Every workout is different, but here’s a rundown of some of mine. The first section of the rowing workout consisted of rowing 200m, then performing 2 different squat exercises with a weighted ball, then back to rowing adding 200m. You continued this pattern until time was up. The second section consisted of rowing 200m, then jump squats. Starting with 8 squats the first time, adding 4 each time with 200m of rowing in between.
I next moved to the weight room (really, just a side section of the room next to the rowers, which were behind the treadmills). The weight section of the workout was broken into 2 blocks. The first block included goblet squats, single arm dumbbell snatch, and upright rows. You continued doing these exercises until time was up. The second block was all about abs, using an ab roller.
And the last section for me was the treadmill. Attendees have complete control of their treadmills, with guidance from the trainer. Starting with a few minute of warm up, we next moved into Base Pace for 3 minutes. For a jogger, the recommended Base Pace was 4.5-5.5mph. We then completed 1 minute of Push Pace, which should be about 1 mph faster than your Base. We alternated intervals of Base and Push, with a couple of All Outs included, which should be at least 1mp faster than Push.
OrangeTheory could be my new favorite work out! I signed up for their 4 sessions a month membership. While memberships and pricing may vary by location, the 4 sessions a month started at $59/month. There were also options for 8 sessions a month and unlimited. You do have to purchase your own heart rate monitor to wear to class. One bonus of the heart rate monitor and membership, if it gives you access to a private app where you can wear your monitor for workouts outside of the studio and work towards your orange rate as well. I haven’t tried this out yet, but look forward to it. You can also schedule all your workouts in the studio on the app or online.
I loved the enthusiasm of the trainer and he really pushed you to do your best. While in the weight room, he encouraged me to increase my weight and corrected my form. Given that it was my first class, and I’ve learned from previous workouts to not go all out in the first session, I felt like I could have given more, but still got a great workout. Ended up with 6 splat points. So here’s to earning 12 next time!
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I was recently searching for an app that I could enter daily to-dos that would automatically rollover each day to help build some daily habits. I received all sorts of recommendations, but one really stuck out – Habitica. The recommender said it was perfect for someone that likes social games and the idea of gamification. What that means is you earn points and build onto a character for every completed to-do! You also lose health when you don’t complete your to-dos. I downloaded Habitica from the Google Play store, but it is also available in the App Store. When logging in for the first time, it will ask if you are using the app for health and wellness or education or business and provide you sample habits and tasks. You can also fully customize the app with items that you want to accomplish.
Habitica is broken up into 4 sections:
You can set up both Good Habits (things you should do multiple times per day like eat vegetables) and Bad Habits (nail biting). Completing a Good Habit earns you gold and experience, while completing a Bad Habit subtracts health.
Dailies are tasks that you have to do every day, like brushing your teeth or checking your email. You can adjust the days that a Daily is due by clicking the pencil item to edit it. If you skip a Daily that is due, your avatar will take damage overnight. I’ve been trying to implement a daily workout routine, so added my individual workouts as Dailies. I also have Dailies for different social media tasks that I want to complete each day, like post on Instagram, my business page, and Twitter. You can earn experience points and coins when completing your Dailies to upgrade your character.
I haven’t used the To-Dos section yet, but this is a place to add one-time items. You can add due dates to your To-Dos and you earn experience points and coins for completing your To-Dos.
This section allows you to spend your coins on new weapons and accessories for your character.
There is also a social aspect to the game with Parties, Guilds, Challenges and the Tavern. These features allow you to chat with other users and join challenges with the your friends or strangers based on similar goals.
I highly recommend Habitica! It has a great layout and is easy to use. I like that it breaks out habits that can be completing throughout the day (like drinking water) versus daily habits (10 squats, for example). I’m also motivated to complete my Dailies so I don’t lose Health points. Whenever you lose all your health points, you drop down a level and lose your experience points as well.
Running is one of my favorite ways to stay active. You can do it inside or out. Alone or with friends. And you can even do it year-round. But it can be a little intimidating if you’ve never tried before.
Here are my top 3 tips to get started in the sport of running.
Get fitted for running shoes. I’ve heard it said that running is one of the cheapest sports to get started in because you can do it with what you have. But I highly recommend you go to a specialized running store and get fitted with proper running shoes. This will likely cost you at least $100, but will save you in injury time and pain down the road. And once you know what shoe and size fits you best, you can find cheaper options online. In St Louis, I love Big River Running! They are highly trained in finding the right shoe for you based on how many miles you run a week, what surfaces you run on, and what injuries you’ve experienced in the past. Look local and they will likely have group runs and other educational opportunities.
Start slow. It can be tempting to jump right in and push yourself as hard as you can the first day. Resist this urge. This is the quickest way to injure yourself and/or cause shin splints. Depending on your existing fitness level, your starting point can vary, but I would recommend 30 minutes of walk/run for your first workout. The Couch to 5k program is an excellent training program for individuals just starting to run. It leads you through run/walk workouts that slowly extend the run periods to where you are completely running by the end of the program. You should never increase your weekly mileage by more than 10%.
Join a running group. I started running with two friends from work. We decided to train for an upcoming 5k to stay active during busy season at our public accounting firm. You can’t beat the accountability of running with friends. They are going to make sure that you show up when you schedule runs and follow up if you miss a run. I’ve since joined Big River Running’s Training Team, which is a group that trains for half and full marathons, focused on races in April and October. We meet weekly on Sundays for 12 weeks leading up to each race. I’ve become great friends with many of the people in these groups and meet regularly during “off-season” and at various races around town. You can look for local groups on Facebook (check out “Moms Run This Town” or just search <city> running groups) and at your local running store.
What additional tips do you have for someone starting their running journey?
The Daily Mile Challenge. While walking or running for just 1 mile a day won’t be enough to get in shape, it will set you up in the habit of daily exercise. These small changes repeated over time can become permanent habits. And it will take you less than 20 minutes.
During the month of April 2018, join us on Facebook for daily motivation to complete your daily mile challenge. Your daily mile can be running, walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, rowing, anything that you can track 1 mile of travel. Many phones have built in health trackers (like Samsung Health), but you can also download multiple fitness tracking apps, like MapMyWalk, MapMyRun, and Nike+.
Tips to Help With The Daily Mile Challenge
Sleep in your workout clothes. I’ve heard this over and over, but never tried it. But I can see the logic. If you are already in your workout clothes, you have no excuse not to workout when you wake up. You are ready to go!
Set an Alarm. Whether first thing in the morning or after you’ve gotten the kids to school, set a time everyday to complete your mile. That consistency of the same time everyday, is just one more step to creating a new habit.
Have a Route Mapped Out. Use Google maps to figure out a route around your block that is 1 mile. Or see how far around your favorite park is.
Hold Yourself Accountable. Find a workout buddy or virtual buddy who will hold you accountable. For every day missed, pay $10 to a friend or charity that you don’t agree with their mission. This should keep you motivated to stay committed to your daily mile.
Create a Reward. On the flip side, you can set up a reward system for completing your mile. Buy a new workout top or get a massage. Treat yourself to a coffee date for every week completed.
During this last month, I have been participating in a squat challenge – 1,000 squats during the month! With a 31 day month, that was an average of 32 squats per day, which seemed pretty doable. With 8 days left in the month, I still have 400 squats to complete. So, instead of actually working on my squats, I’m going to recap the benefits of performing squats and some different varieties you can add to your exercise regime.
Proper Squat Form
But first, let’s talk about what a squat is and how to perform a proper squat. The movement begins from a standing position. The movement is initiated by moving the hips back and bending the knees and hips to lower the torso, then returning to the upright position. Make sure to keep your chest up and don’t let your knees extend beyond your toes.
Squats obviously help to build your leg muscles (including your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves), but they also create an anabolic environment, which promotes body-wide muscle building.
In fact, when done properly, squats are so intense that they trigger the release of testosterone and human growth hormone in your body, which are vital for muscle growth and will also help to improve muscle mass when you train other areas of your body aside from your legs.
So squats can actually help you improve both your upper and lower body strength.
2. Functional Exercise Makes Real-life Activities Easier
Functional exercises are those that help your body to perform real-life activities, as opposed to simply being able to operate pieces of gym equipment. Squats are one of the best functional exercises out there, as humans have been squatting since the hunter-gatherer days. When you perform squats, you build muscle and help your muscles work more efficiently, as well as promote mobility and balance. All of these benefits translate into your body moving more efficiently in the real world too.
3. Burn More Fat
One of the most time-efficient ways to burn more calories is actually to gain more muscle! For every pound of additional muscle you gain, your body will burn an additional 50-70 calories per day. So, if you gain 10 pounds of muscle, you will automatically burn 500-700 more calories per day than you did before.
4. Maintain Mobility and Balance
Strong legs are crucial for staying mobile as you get older, and squats are phenomenal for increasing leg strength. They also work out your core, stabilizing muscles, which will help you to maintain balance, while also improving the communication between your brain and your muscle groups, which helps prevent falls – which is incidentally the #1 way to prevent bone fractures versus consuming mega-dose calcium supplements.
5. Prevent Injuries
Most athletic injuries involve weak stabilizer muscles, ligaments and connective tissues, which squats help strengthen. They also help prevent injury by improving your flexibility (squats improve the range of motion in your ankles and hips) and balance, as noted above.
6. Boost Your Sports Performance – Jump Higher and Run Faster
Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a mom who chases after a toddler, you’ll be interested to know that studies have linked squatting strength with athletic ability. Specifically, squatting helped athletes run faster and jump higher, which is why this exercise is part of virtually every professional athlete’s training program.
7. Tone Your Backside, Abs and Entire Body
Few exercises work as many muscles as the squat, so it’s an excellent multi-purpose activity useful for toning and tightening your behind, abs, and, of course, your legs. Furthermore, squats build your muscles, and these muscles participate in the regulation of glucose and lipid metabolism and insulin sensitivity, helping to protect you against obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
8. Help With Waste Removal
Squats improve the pumping of body fluids, aiding in removal of waste and delivery of nutrition to all tissues, including organs and glands. They’re also useful for improved movement of feces through your colon and more regular bowel movements.
First up, the traditional bodyweight squat. Keep your legs about hip width apart, push your hips back while bending your knees. Bend your knees to about a 90 degree angle and return to an upright position.
The dumbbell squat is just like the bodyweight squat with additional weight. Hold a dumbbell tight to your chest and don’t let it pull your chest forward as you squat down.
Similar to the dumbbell squat, is the kettle bell (or goblet) squat. And I’ll say it again, keep your chest high as you squat. Keep from arching your back.
Another option is to squat with a weight bar.
Another variation is holding a weight (could be a dumbbell too) straight in front of you. This will really challenge your balance, so keep your core tight to avoid leaning into the weight or letting it droop.
The next variation is the wide leg squat that will focus on your inner thighs. These can be done with or without added weights.
What is your favorite squat variety or workout? Please share in the comments!
It’s February, which means 80% of New Year’s resolutions have failed. How are you doing?
Taking some proactive tips to isolate your resolutions can help you get back on track.
Write it down
You are 43% more likely to achieve your goal if you write it down.
Write it in your planner
Write it on a sticky note and place it on your bathroom mirror or computer screen (some place that you’ll see every day)
Break it down
When you break down your goal into smaller steps you create an action plan.
Want to lose weight?
Week 1 – Remove 1 calorie filled drink per day
Week 2 – Add 1 30 minute workout
Week 3 – Add 1 vegetable to each meal
Week 4 – Sleep at least 7 hours each night
Want to get out of debt?
Week 1 – Bring your lunch (instead of buying)
Week 2 – Stick to a shopping list
Week 3 – Review your expenses to determine where you can eliminate or cut back services
Week 4 – Make a budget
Sharing your goal with someone creates accountability and helps you commit to it. Share it on social media or find an accountability partner where you are each working towards a goal and you can brainstorm action plans together.
Set your intention for the day and visualize success on daily tasks. Your vision boards and sticky notes can be very helpful in keeping your goals front of mind. Affirmations are another powerful tool to use. I like the My Affirmation App (Android link). It comes pre-filled with affirmations or you can add your own. Combine that with their beautiful images, and you are sure to be inspired.
Set periodic reassessments to check-in and reevaluate your goals and progress. It’s ok to change or modify your goal. You may even be in the situation where you’ve knocked your goal out of the water and need to determine what’s next. Take time to evaluation, brainstorm, and move forward.