By Coach Meredith
How can we increase movement throughout the day if we have a standard 9-5 desk job? My answer to you is: there are A LOT of ways to increase activity even if you have to remain at your desk for the majority of the day. Here I will go over just a few ways to focus on core strength and increase physical activity throughout the day.
Even with standing desks, parking at the furthest end of the parking lot, walking to meetings and trying to walk at lunch, most people STILL spend the majority of their workdays sitting. Booooo!
Fortunately, there is a way to sneak strengthening exercises into your daily routine, even if your day is packed with meetings. One trick is using isometrics. These are moves that use contraction and relaxation to engage muscles.
HOW ISOMETRIC EXERCISES WORK
On a basic level, muscles contract in three main ways. Concentric contraction happens when a muscle tenses, which means you’re shortening it. Eccentric contraction occurs when that muscle tension is prompted through lengthening, such as resistance or lowering a weight.
For example, with a bicep curl, you have concentric contraction as you bring the weight toward you, and eccentric contraction as you lower the weight.
With isometric contraction, muscles tighten without changing length, and there is no movement in a joint. Examples include pushing against an immoveable object like a wall or holding plank. You remain in one position without movement, but are still doing plenty of work.
Isometrics are also called “static strength training.” These exercises can be so effective they bring muscles to fatigue quickly and the effects last long after they’re done.
Try some of these isometric exercises throughout your workday. Although they seem like modest moves, they can help to keep your muscles working:
Clasp your hands or press your palms together in front of your chest, elbows bent, exerting equal pressure in both arms. Hold each press for 10 seconds, then release. Repeat 5–6 times. This will work your biceps, chest and triceps — maybe while you’re reading emails.
Sit up straight in your chair, with shoulders relaxed. Breathe deeply and engage your abs as if you’re bracing for a punch. Hold for 5 seconds, then breathe out while “crunching” your abs upward as if you’re doing a sit-up. Exhale completely, take a few breaths, then repeat. This can be a great exercise during long meetings, since the action is subtle and no one will know you’re doing a major ab workout while you’re taking notes.
Strong glutes help to protect your back, especially when you’re chair-bound for most of the day. A simple isometric exercise is to squeeze your glutes and hold the contraction for 10 seconds, then release.
To get some movement in your shoulders and engage your core, stand about 3 feet from a wall and place your palms against it at shoulder height and width apart. Press firmly against the wall for 10 seconds, then release. You can also make this into a push-up by lowering your torso toward the wall and pressing back up.
The main benefit you’ll see with isometric holds is stabilization of the muscles. Isometric exercises are done in a static position which means they won’t help improve speed or athletic performance, however they can help maintain muscle strength.
Isometric movements are often used in physical therapy to rehab injured muscles, so if you’re trying to bounce back after injury or other issues, putting some isometric exercises into your everyday schedule can also be useful.
There is also another advantage to performing these movements, especially for work: Isometric exercises can help lower blood pressure. That means you can de-stress and fit in some workout moves at the same time.
You should try incorporating a few exercises per day, and do them at about 30% of your max effort. From there, you can start to build more into your workdays and increase intensity over time.
Like I mentioned, this is just one way to increase your physical activity with a desk job. There are also bodyweight movements and other exercises you can perform to improve your strength while on the job.
Provided by Coach Meredith
In 1972, researcher Walter Mischel did a now-famous experiment at Stanford. He sat children between the ages of four and six in an empty room with a marshmallow on a table. Researchers told each child that they could have one marshmallow right now, but if they waited a little while, then they could have two marshmallows. Then, the researchers left the children alone with the marshmallow to see what happened.
Some kids ate the marshmallow immediately.
Some kids waited a few minutes, then caved in.
But about one-third of the children were able to wait longer.
They came up with ways to avoid the marshmallow temptation while they waited. Some covered their eyes or turned away from the marshmallow. Some invented little distractions, such as humming. Their payoff, of course, was twice as many marshmallows.
By waiting - or delaying gratification - these children succeeded in getting more in the long term than they had in the short term.
TO SEE THE STUDY CLICK HERE
That's interesting enough, but what's even more interesting is what happened afterwards.
Children who were able to delay gratification in the marshmallow experiment turned out to be more successful later on, too. (By the way, this experiment also worked with pretzels, candy, and chocolate, in case you were concerned that maybe kids just didn't like marshmallows.)
In the late 1980s, when Mischel checked in on the children he'd studied, the two-marshmallow kids were still winning the game of life. They were doing better socially and academically. They had their act together.
And guess what? The same principle of delaying gratification applies to wellness, weight loss and getting in shape.
Remind yourself of what you truly want.
Remember that what you get in the future might be twice as good as what you get right now.
You don't have to have iron willpower for this.
Sometimes, all you have to do is get through just a few minutes of discomfort.
Think about the "impulse eating" situations that you often find yourself in, such as:
Like the children you can:
Remember what's truly important to you
WHAT's UP NEXT?
This weekend, try sitting with a little bit of discomfort and difficulty.
Get just slightly hungry. It's OK. Embrace the challenge.
WHAT TO DO TODAY
1. Stay focused on what you truly want in the long run.
Remind yourself of who you are and why you're here. Ask yourself:
When and where are you likely to make rushed or thoughtless choices? From now on, anticipate this. Come up with ways to stay on track and delay gratification.
3. Find strategies to help yourself stay focused.
Like the children you can:
By Coach Meredith
I hope you all have been enjoying your summer so far. Can you believe it’s already July?! Let’s start off this month by talking about getting your whole family active. Summer months are the most active for Ohioans and you and your family should definitely be taking advantage of it!
Active parents raise active children. It’s a fact. Research shows that children will take after their parents and have similar physical activity levels. So, as you find the balance between work, family, and extracurricular activities, be mindful that your children will follow in your footsteps, literally. Fitness should always be a priority in a family’s daily schedule.
It is recommended by the American Heart Association that from the age of 2 and above, you should participate in an hour of moderate to vigorous activity every day. Children who meet this goal will find it easier to maintain a healthy weight as they work to prevent heart disease, cancer, stroke, and other metabolic diseases.
One hour each day might sound like a large chunk of time, but there are several different ways to incorporate physical activity into your family’s routine little by little.
Here are some ideas:
There you have it, some top tips for increasing your family’s activity level.
By Coach Meredith
I’ve had some people asking me about the best ways to go about ‘Meal Prepping.’ There are more than these options to go about it, however I find that most people are able to stick with these 3 food prep schedules:
1. Sunday Service
You don’t have to do this on Sunday, of course. You can choose any day you like, but pick 1 day during your week that works best for you.
I say Sunday because it is often a time when people are more free, more relaxed, and more able to devote time to this type of task. It is also a time when we’re usually thinking ahead to the upcoming week.
Whatever day you choose, set aside 2-3 hours once a week to do the following:
Meal prepping in advance helps to give yourself a little extra buffer zone. You never know what unexpected challenge might strike at 6pm on Wednesday, and when it does, you’ll be glad you stocked away an extra meal in the freezer.
You can combine what you do on Sunday with a Daily habit — for example, by preparing the labor-intensive staples such as lean protein on Sunday, and then adding some quick-prep items, such as fruit and veggies, every day.
It often takes about as much time to prepare a few items as it does to prepare one.
For example, it’s nearly as fast to chop 3 carrots as it is to chop 1, or to scramble 6 eggs instead of 2. During the Daily Ritual, you can prep a few extra items to have on hand for later in the day, or the following day.
Another option for the Daily routine is the Morning routine – this is where you use some of the time-saving strategies to whip up a healthy breakfast or lunch:
Or try a Dinner routine where you simply make extra portions and save the rest for tomorrow.
Again, it doesn’t take much more time to prepare a few extra things, so cook in bulk where possible.
3. Healthy meals made for you
I briefly touched on this in a previous blog, however it is another great option to eat healthy. Many grocery stores now offer a wide range of grab-and-go meals. This includes salad bars, pre-washed and cut vegetables, and individually-portioned lean protein. There are also many specialty food store chains that offer healthy food takeout and delivery.
There are also options for a healthy meal delivery service, if only for one or two meals a week. Some of these include Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, and Paleo To Me (which delivers to our gym!). If you don’t enjoy cooking, or are extremely busy, you may find that having a break from the time and hassle of meal prep is worth the money. It might just mean the difference between a delicious, nourishing, physique-friendly lunchtime salad and another regrettable fast-food run.
The goal here is: Do what works best for you, your life, and your goals.
You can mix and match all of these food-prep options, in any way that works for you. Anticipate, plan, strategize.—This is the key to mastering your nutrition.
By Coach Meredith
Stop being "PERFECT" and be "GOOD ENOUGH" instead.
Outdoor survival tip!
When you’re running from a bear, you don't have to run the fastest.
All you have to do is run a little bit faster than the slowest person.
In other words, when you're improving your habits and choices, you never have to be "perfect.”
You just have to be a little bit better, consistently.
The 0% Game
Try a game.
You know those parents who focus on how much less than 100% their kids got?
For example let’s take a grade school test, "If you get 90% on your math test, what happened to the other 10%?"
They start from 100% (i.e. perfect) and work backwards. So everything is always portrayed less than 100%.
Now let’s do the Opposite:
So how could you apply this to your lifestyle?
See how much better things look when you start from the worst-case scenario?!
Let’s explore further:
What would move you just a little bit forward today?
What could make you just a little bit better today?
The answer? --
Progress, not perfection
Consider two options:
Option 1: Making yourself crazy for a week chasing a "100%" performance, followed by burning out and giving up.
Option 2: Trying to be 1% better every day, for a full year
Let's do the math:
7 days x 100% effort + 358 days x 0% effort = no change, or backsliding. You end up feeling like a failure.
365 days x 1% better every day = significant transformation. You end up feeling like a superstar.
Focus on "making a little progress" each day rather than being "perfect.”
Start from 0% and add. Notice your small accomplishments.
Let yourself be "good enough for now". Take the pressure off. Be patient.
Keep showing up. Keep trying.
And let the bear bite someone else in the butt.
Don’t wait for the “perfect” day, “perfect” body, or “perfect” schedule full of free time to come.
It never will.
Do something NOW.
Take the next 5 minutes to do whatever you can do, immediately, to stay on track.
Do that, and you're already 1% better. Congrats!
What to do today
Remember- you are only one person and can only do so much. Do not wear yourself down aiming for perfection when changing a little at a time is much more effective and manageable.
If you’re in need of any help setting goals or finding where to start, please do not hesitate to ask one of your coaches. We’re here to help!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
By Coach Meredith
Friendly Reminder -- This coming weekend is ‘Daylight Savings Time’ and we will be “springing forward” by setting our clocks 1-hour forward at 2:00am on Sunday March 12th. So unfortunately, we will be “losing” an hour this weekend, but we will gain that extra hour of daylight in the evenings to look forward to!
That being said let’s touch base on how we can become more well rested, have a great start to our day, and in turn become more successful human beings. Studies have been done to prove that morning people are generally more successful throughout their lives and I have gathered some of the top tips to help you become an early riser.
1. Get Up An Hour Early
Getting up an hour earlier is going to take time to adjust to, so I suggest weaning yourself into it 10-15 minutes at a time until you’ve built up to an hour. Research has shown, not only are early risers more optimistic and conscientious, they also anticipate problems and minimize them more efficiently. Most people will say they do not have the time to wake up a full hour earlier if they want to make sure they are well-rested (6-8 hours of sleep), therefore I suggest you take a look at your nightly routine to find any adjustments there as well.
I personally love early mornings. There is something about knowing you are up before the hustle and bustle of the rest of the world that provides a sense of clarity and motivation for the day. Waking up early offers you opportunities that few get to enjoy – watch the sun rise, hear the sound of birds chirping, and just be still. We are always on the move. Sit and enjoy the morning calm. It’s a brief time where you can be alone with your thoughts and just breathe.
2. Eat Breakfast
Fuel your body right for the day and tasks ahead. This means feeding yourself a wholesome breakfast. If the rest of the family is up, take some time to sit down and enjoy the start to your day with loved ones. Feeding your body with whole foods within an hour of waking will help you maintain a steady focus throughout the day.
3. Bed-head or Dread-Head?
Re-prioritize your to-do list, placing the most dreaded task at the top of your list. Instead of letting it loom over you all day, save yourself the agony and stress and get it done first thing. You will feel a sense of relief and accomplishment and be more ready and willing to tackle any trivial task that follows. Remember, the morning is the time when you typically have the most energy and feel the most rested. This is a win-win!
First, dig deep and find out what inspires you. Second, create your mantra. Third, repeat that same saying to yourself every morning. Fourth, breathe and relax. This is shown to improve motivation and focus for your day ahead.
5. Move it or Lose it
Morning workouts not only give you a boost of energy, they pump you up, ensuring your senses are up and running. You’ll feel ready to tackle any problem that comes your way. Studies have shown that people are less likely to come up with excuses early in the morning. SO-- with fewer interruptions, you now have no excuse not to set your alarm 15-60 minutes early and sneak in a quick jog or workout.
There you have it. Five tips to help you become a more successful and healthier person by 9am. Have a great week all!