By Coach Meredith
Spring is here and the weather is finally getting warmer. Now is the perfect time to think about ways to switch up your gym routine and bring your workouts outside! Besides fitting in more physical activity, there are also many other benefits to working out outside such as fresh air, sunshine, and enjoying a wide range of activities that are perfect for the outdoors which you may not be able to do during your normal indoor workouts. Not sure how to get the same intensity as your indoor workouts? Try one of these ideas to get started:
Just a reminder-- No matter what activity you try outside:
Depending on where you go, whether you’re in the park, at the beach, in a field, a parking lot, or maybe just in your own backyard—workouts that are typically done inside can always be modified to bring to the great outdoors. No one said exercise has to stay inside, so get out there and enjoy the benefits of some fresh air and sunshine while becoming a stronger, healthier you!
By Coach Meredith
What is HIIT?
High Intensity Interval Training. This type of training is going to give you the most bang for your buck when it comes to exercise. Want cardio? It’s got it. Want to gain strength? You will. Want to burn fat? This is your solution.
Luckily, The Bar Athletics offers TWO great exercise programs that use high intensity interval training: Crossfit and B-FHIIT.
While our Crossfit program does offer workouts with HIIT, our B-FHIIT program is completely based off of it (if you couldn’t already tell by its name… Bar-Fitness High Intensity Interval Training)
HIIT (B-FHIIT) alternates between periods of high and low intensity and periods of rest. For example: 40 seconds of a set of burpees followed by a set of ring rows and then 20 seconds of rest OR 30 second sprint followed by 1 minute of walking.
HIIT is an important form of exercise because it is impossible to sustain maximal intensities during an extended amount of time. This is due to how our body processes fuel. Let’s take this a step further and explore a magic molecule called: Oxygen.
One thing everyone knows is we need oxygen to breathe. When our bodies work at low intensity exercise, such as a brisk walk, we utilize aerobic metabolism. What does this mean?
-This means we use oxygen to break down carbohydrate and fat for energy. This is great! It’s an efficient process, however we can’t work at top speed so we lose intensity.
When our bodies work at higher intensity, such as sprinting, we utilize anaerobic metabolism. What does this mean?
-This means our bodies can’t get oxygen to where it needs to go fast enough. This is inefficient, but it allows us to produce short bursts of speed or high energy.
So, we have these two systems, both of which have advantages and disadvantages. How can we make the best of both worlds when exercising? – HIIT.
-The alternating of short bursts of intense exercise (anaerobic metabolism) with periods of low intensity exercise (aerobic metabolism) allow for long-term fat loss, overall conditioning, and muscle recovery.
Again, just to recap-- Why HIIT?
HIIT is excellent for:
HIIT is extremely efficient. It lets you get a bigger training effect with less time spent. And compared to a 45-minute jog, 45 minutes of HIIT is a lot easier on the joints.
If you’re tired of seeing the same results from lifting weights in front of a mirror and doing the same old circuit, check out our 45 minute B-FHIIT class or 60 minute Crossfit classes for some HIIT fun!
By Coach Meredith
Spring has sprung and I hope you all have been able to get out and enjoy some outdoor activities. This week I’d like to give you a few tips for your wellness journey. Whether you’re just starting on weight loss, finding yourself in the middle of the struggle, or working on maintenance, here are some tips to keep you on track:
1. BEGIN NOW AND BEGIN SMALL
So you’ve gained some weight. Of course this isn’t ideal, however it isn’t the end of the world. You must keep moving forward. It all starts with you. Stop saying “tomorrow will be the day.” Once you start you are that much closer to your goal.
The toughest part is showing up. There are days I don’t want to work out, but I know how much better I will feel once I do. All I have to do is step foot in the gym (or if you’re a runner, maybe it’s on your favorite trail) and that right there is enough. I showed up, therefore I HAVE to do something or else it was a waste of my time and I know if I don’t I will still feel crappy. Once you get moving, the endorphins start flowing telling your body it’s happy to be moving, even if it’s just for a small amount of time.
This same philosophy can be applied to food and goal setting. Instead of focusing on the 50 pounds you want to lose, put your energy towards the five pounds you can realistically lose in a month.
The best part is, if you’ve fallen off the wagon completely, taking a few small steps typically results in changes pretty quickly.
2. DON’T TAKE A GUILT TRIP
It is very easy to feel ashamed, guilty, and embarrassed if you’ve gained or regained weight. Weight gain is natural throughout different periods of our lives. The important thing is that we must shift our focus from the past and set some goals or actions you can take to move forward.
Do not beat yourself up over having that ice cream last night, instead focus on what you will do tonight to change that negative habit. Is there a healthier option to satisfy that craving? Most likely. Having a piece of fruit for those sugar cravings is always a better option or something with a little protein like Greek yogurt or a handful of nuts will rid you of that nighttime hunger.
Make attainable goals and celebrate yourself when you’ve hit them. Reward yourself with non-food items such as a night out seeing that movie you’ve been wanting to see or maybe it’s a trip to the mall for the gadget you’ve been eyeing up.
Remember to strive for progress, not perfection.
3. SEEK HELP
Find someone to help hold you accountable. This could be your coach, wellness coach, registered dietitian, doctor or therapist. Depending on your situation, it can also help to sit down with a professional to discuss why you may have gained the weight in the first place and what steps you should be taking to make a change that sticks.
Coach Meredith is a Wellness Coach with a degree in Nutrition. She offers meal planning and nutrition assistance. If you have any questions please email her at email@example.com for more information.
If you have preexisting medical conditions, are trying to lose more than 100 pounds or have a BMI of 40 or greater, we always recommend consulting a doctor first. This ensures you are embarking on the plan that is best for your health.
4. MEAL PLAN
It’s always helpful to plan out your meals and prep ahead of time. This helps to prevent you from falling back into old bad habits. Cooking at home saves time and money. Personally, I take 1-2 trips to the grocery store during the week, one is a big trip and the second is to pick up a few produce items that won’t last all week. I use my Sundays as meal prep days, washing, chopping, and cooking everything in big batches and dividing it up for the week. I try to incorporate as many veggies as possible into every meal (yes, even breakfast). If your schedule isn’t conducive to meal planning and getting groceries in advance, try a meal delivery service. There are plenty of services out there now that provide healthy meals when you’re too busy to think about it. Some examples are Paleo To Me (Which delivers right to The Bar!), Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, the list could go on and on.
5. FRIENDSHIPS ARE THE BEST SHIPS
Talk about it. Tell your family and friends you are working on your weight-loss goals. They may want to join you and even do a challenge together or join and exercise class. Your family and friends can also create an environment that’s more conducive to your goals by keeping junk food out of sight or by not bringing unhealthy food around in the first place. Sometimes it also just helps to have someone to vent to throughout the process.
Lastly, I want to mention -- do not let a number have power over you. As you exercise and strength train, you will be gaining lean muscle mass. Muscle weights more than fat. Period. The more lean muscle mass you have the easier it is for your body to burn calories. It may weigh more, but it is functioning more efficiently then it would if it were fat. Weight will always fluctuate. There are too many variables to remain 100% consistent every day.
The conclusion is-- Weight gain happens and weight loss is hard work. Don’t give up or feel defeated if you are struggling: You’ve got this and you are not alone.
I hope you all have a great week and a Happy, healthy Easter!
Stop Exercising...Start Training!
By Coach CJ
You’ve probably had every intention of getting in the best shape of your life THIS year, but still haven’t committed to the process. What went wrong?? It doesn’t matter if you haven’t stepped foot in a gym for 20 years or if you’ve been going FIVE times per week, chances are you’re looking at it as 'EXERCISE' not ‘TRAINING.’
Let’s take a step back and discuss the difference:
Exercise is movement without purpose; motion without direction. It’s what my mother does when she walks around the block, or you go to the gym and make up a workout on the spot.
Training is a mindset. It’s, the way in which you approach any exercise you do. Training is doing that same ‘EXERCISE’ activity, but with a specific, measurable goal in mind. Training involves having a plan of action on how you’re going to get to that goal. If you want results, training is the most effective way to get there.
Here are 5 steps to begin training:
1. SET A PRIMARY GOAL & MAKE A PLAN
We at The Bar Athletics love SMART Goals (Refer back to last week's SMART GOAL BLOG). SMART Goals allow you to get started in the right direction. All too often we hear, “I want to get healthy [fit, strong].” In order to become healthy, fit, or strong, you need a plan to get to that destination. “Healthy” and “strong” aren't specific enough. I want you to think of a road map, the foldable kind our parents kept in the glove box and used for family vacations. My father would unfold the map, mark our home or our starting location, and then find our destination. Next, he would highlight the route from starting location to end destination, figuring out the most efficient way to get there. He included checkpoints for gas and rest along the way. The point here is that he had a goal, a destination in mind, and the map was his plan. Think of your goal as a destination on a map. What route and what checkpoints do you need to go through in order to make it to your goal? How will you become healthy, fit, or strong? It’s time to set some goals and get SMART!
2. SMALLER, MORE SPECIFIC GOALS
How do you know you're headed in the right direction? Smaller, more frequent goals. At any particular moment, training and exercise might look more or less the same. But as we discussed earlier, they are not. When you train, sessions have specific goals relative to the overall goals of a program. The activities, loads, and frequencies you use are vital. You do what you need to do, not just what you want to do. For example, when training for a competition 3 months down the road you will need to set expectations of your training in order to perform at your best ability when the competition date arrives. Smaller goals such as attaining a higher load or more repetitions, will benefit the ultimate goal of your performance down the road.
3. FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
Fundamentals are the basics of your training. Without them we should not and could not train. They also provide the importance of having a coach. Having a coach might seem obvious, but there are many athletes that prefer to train alone. There are several important reasons for having a coach, but two integral reasons are:
1. The coach has knowledge, experience, and can provide an unbiased set of eyes.
2. The coach will get an athlete to do things he or she wouldn't do otherwise.
4. TRAINING IS EFFICIENT
If you look at any particular element in your training program and you can't explain how it will aid in your primary goal, then you probably shouldn't be doing it. For example, let’s say you’re looking to fit into your bathing suit this summer and are only doing cardio and avoiding strength training. Oh, you just want to “tone up?” Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but “TONING” is actually saying you want to build some muscle and lose body fat. Strength training is the most efficient way to “tone” up and lose body fat as it burns calories both during and post-exercise versus cardio which only burns during. An Olympic lifter, for example, would be wasting his time and energy doing hundreds of bench presses and calf raises when his focus should be on cleans, jerks, and snatches. In comparison, a bodybuilder doesn't need to be doing an hour of power cleans every day. My point here is to train efficiently for your goal. Do what is necessary to get you one step closer to where you need to be.
5. TRAINING USES STATS
When training, you will know before a session is even finished whether or not that day was successful. You don't judge training quality based on how tired you are, how sore you got, or the volume you were able to perform. Successful training is not judged on the pump you got, but on the progression toward YOUR GOALS. This is made possible by keeping record of all volumes, repetitions, and drills you use in training. Other items we must keep track of are our nutrition and sleep. If you didn't hit your planned number or rep scheme for the day, then there was a flaw somewhere. Flaws are due to the many variables in our lives. Maybe it was the programming, maybe your nutrition was off or perhaps you weren't rested enough. Good record-keeping will help you identify the problem and point you in the right direction to solve it.
So if you want results from your exercise, set up a training program to get to your goal the right way. Use the five steps we discussed to get started today!
Not sure what goals to set? Meet with one of our coaches for a FREE goal setting session.
By Coach Meredith
So, you’ve decided it’s time… time to lose some weight, feel better, have more energy, do all the things you’ve been wanting to do.
Picture this: You decided enough is enough. You switch up your nutrition and begin eating healthy foods and you embark on a regular exercise routine. Before starting this journey, you may have taken some baseline measurements (Weight, Body Fat Percentage, Hydration Level, etc.) to see where you are in order to determine where you want to be. So the time comes to check-in on your progress, you step on the scale, and…..you haven’t lost any weight.
What do you do? Continue with eating healthy and following your exercise plan? Throw in the towel, and go back to what you were doing before? Start restricting your eating even more as an effort to make weight loss happen faster?
These are all the typical reactions to a lack of “success” on the scale. I say “success” loosely because first and foremost our value as a person is not determined by a number on a scale. Weight loss, maintenance, or gain can be very tricky to navigate.
Weight fluctuations are common because your weight is determined by a variety of factors. These include but are not limited to how hydrated you are, what you recently ate, your bathroom habits, the climate, and your exercise routine. A few pounds of weight fluctuation here or there are usually not a result of fat gain but a result of your body doing exactly what it needs to do to regulate its physiological functions.
That brings me to my next point-- How often should you weigh yourself? Whether your goal is maintenance, loss or gain, let’s talk about the scale.
The first question we need to figure out is: “Will weighing myself (daily, weekly, periodically, etc.) help me or harm me?”
Unfortunately, there is no right or wrong answer here since figuring out what is helpful and motivating is different for each individual. It is up to YOU to decide. Here are some thoughts on frequency of weigh-ins:
There are many people who find that weighing in daily provides a sense of accountability and is helpful for having a good idea of where they are with their progress. I only recommend this if you’re able to look at the overall trend and not stress about the fluctuations. For example, does a 0.4-pound weight gain sour your mood? Or, are you absolutely elated to see that you’re down 1 pound? If the daily weigh-ins powerfully affect your mood and behavior, then you might want to reconsider how often you weigh yourself. The number on the scale should not have the power to dictate your mood, the events of the day or your overall quality of life — it’s just a number.
Weekly weigh-ins can have its advantages in your weight loss/maintenance/gain journey. This allows you to track progress while still having six whole days to not focus on your weight.
For best results, pick a consistent day each week, and weigh yourself first thing in the morning and wearing the same items of clothing (or no clothing for most accurate results). Look for trends, but don’t get caught up in the subtleties. You must realize that it will take a few weeks to get where you are heading. Weekly weigh-ins can be a good tool to help you feel accountable without making you ride the daily emotional roller coaster that is (or can be) the scale.
Occasional weigh-ins may be done at home or at the gym or doctor’s office of which they don’t frequent. People who opt for the occasional weigh-in often have alternative ways of identifying weight shifts, like the way their clothes fit or how strong they feel while exercising. The body is a science and on our weight management journey this ultimately may be the best way to identify our best, healthiest self. Remember, a number is just a number. It does not define who we are as a person.
Lastly, there are many people out there who never set foot on a scale. Some people find it helpful to focus on how they feel in their clothes, the balance of their meals and snacks and how they perform with their exercise rather than focusing on the number. Again, this is a valid way to approach health — there’s much more to health than a number on the scale!
If you are weighing yourself multiple times per day, PLEASE stop! With rare exceptions, you should not weigh yourself more than once per day. Obsessing over a number on the scale can turn into a very problematic pattern that can disturb the peace and happiness in your life. If you decide to weigh yourself, the scale should be a tool that helps you, not harms you.
Each of us has different ways of experiencing things and inviting motivation and positivity into our lives. My advice to you is to find what works and positively motivates you and stick with it.
Have a positive week all!
By Coach Meredith
I hope you all have been enjoying the milder Ohio weather and may have even gotten outside for some recent physical activity. Which brings me to my next topic: Physical Activity in the new year.
There are a number of reasons why we exercise. Although one of the main goals is to lose weight or maintain fitness, some of those reasons have absolutely nothing to do with losing weight. Regular physical activity can boost mental health benefits, improve quality of sleep, strengthen our immune systems, and is an overall essential component of a healthy lifestyle. Exercise doesn’t have to be just about losing weight. For some it is a source of therapy or even just an escape from their day to day routine.
That being said, if your goal is to lose weight, you should know that working out isn’t enough on its own to actually make that happen. There is so much else that goes into weight loss and body fat loss; one of the main factors being good nutrition. Majority of weight loss regimens will include exercise because it is a great tool and is healthy for you. Something to remember: because there are so many aspects that go into weight loss and living a healthy lifestyle, even if you are doing everything “right”, working out regularly and eating appropriately may not be enough. Lifestyle habits such as sleep and stress as well as health conditions (thyroid issues, depression, chronic disease) can get in the way of your weight loss efforts. Weight loss is an extremely personal journey that doesn’t look or work the exact same way for each individual.
That being said there are definitely certain exercises and workouts that can be useful in helping you lose weight or burn fat or change your body composition to gain lean muscle mass for a fitter, healthier you. These exercises are generally high-intensity and they burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time. Let’s explore a few common high-intensity exercise routines:
This is any form of exercise where your heart rate spikes and then comes down repeatedly within a period of time. This type of training keeps your heart rate elevated in a general range according to your age, which in turn keeps your metabolism going. The result: you burn more calories.
If you are generally crunched for time, Tabata workouts are your solution. Tabata is high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that consists of 20 seconds of all-out effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest, or any combination of work to rest in a repeated fashion. You can perform Tabata-style exercise for any length of time as long as you are focusing on a work to rest ratio in order to spike and recover the heart rate. This is also great because you can use different exercises to constantly keep the body guessing and increase the metabolism. Think this is your style of workout? Check out The Bar Athletics’ new B-FHIIT class held on M-W-F from 6:30pm-7:15pm. This class is an instructor led, 45 minute session that is guaranteed to get you sweating! This class is perfect for anyone interested in losing weight, increasing stamina, or just trying to have a great time. You can expect great music, great coaches, great friends all while achieving a great workout! This class is for all levels of fitness, beginner to advanced. All movements can be scaled to accommodate for any personal mobility restrictions. Furthermore, the importance of nutrition will also be discussed to promote a healthy lifestyle in and out of the gym.
CrossFit is a form of interval training and can also be considered high-intensity. Traditional CrossFit classes include a skill-based warm-up, skill or strength training, the Workout of the Day (or “WOD”), and mobility work. The workouts can always be scaled so that new athletes can workout alongside veteran athletes. Some days the WOD will be a 10-20 minute metabolic conditioning workout that combines several movements grouped into sets to be completed for time or in as many rounds a possible (“AMRAP”). Other days, the class will focus on a strength piece (like a 1 rep max deadlift) followed by a shorter metabolic conditioning “finisher” workout. We encourage all CrossFit athletes to record their workout times/scores in the ‘Beyond The Whiteboard’ app in order to track their progress over time. Because the workouts vary every single day, you may be doing anything from kettlebell swings to rope climbs and box jumps to front squats. That is the beauty of it: NO MONOTONY. Every day is different and there is always something to work on improving. Many people are intimidated by CrossFit, but must realize that the movements performed are basic fundamental movements you use in your daily life (aka deadlift- picking something up off the ground). And remember: ALL movements can be modified according to your individual skill level and limitations. So if you’re having hesitations because of your age or limitations, don’t. Come try out a class! I guarantee you’ll leave learning something about your own body movement and strength and make at least one new friend!
Check out the class schedule found under the ‘Schedule’ tab for available class times. See you at The Bar!
By Coach Meredith
Hello and Happy New Year!
With the new year, comes new resolutions. Let’s set new standards for ourselves for optimal health and wellness. First and foremost, let’s make rest a priority. Depriving our bodies of sleep is depriving it of recovery and growth that can aid in warding off illness, signs of aging, and obesity.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of Americans aren’t getting regular sleep. Without regular sleep patterns, our bodies find it hard to function and we begin to slack in other areas of our lives including our overall health. One study has found that insufficient sleep can cause change to more than 700 genes in our bodies. Here are some vital organs inadequate sleep will affect:
Monotonous tasks such as driving have an increased risk because our focus is lessened and we can be easily distracted. Our hand-eye coordination is also affected. When this all adds up it can be dangerous not only for ourselves, but for everyone else traveling around us as well.
Leptin naturally rises during the day and peaks at night, but researchers have found that that doesn’t seem happen if you stay awake. There is an 18% decrease in levels of leptin and a 28% increase in levels of ghrelin when we stay awake longer than we should.
Another explanation for our sleep-deprived hunger, may be related to changes in our brain. We tend to make decisions that we would not have made if we were well-rested. You wouldn’t normally eat a Big Mac, large fry, and a Coke for dinner, but at midnight or 1 a.m., it looks awesome, is fast, easy, and sounds like a good idea. Right?… Wrong!
Sleep is the time when our cells regenerate, so when your sleep is disturbed this important process is thrown off. Our blood vessels are most affected because they are constantly being regenerated. Over time this may lead to stiffness in your arteries and less efficient healing, which impacts our heart health.
So let’s start the new year off right with proper rest habits in order to have our happiest, healthiest year yet!
Have a restful week all!