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CornerStone Blog

Month: March 2020

6 Ways To Reset In The “New Normal”

When Governor Wolf announced that Bucks County needed to close, my initial feeling was relief.  Crazy right?  I had just spent the previous weekend traveling so I was happy to be forced to stay home, enjoy time with my family and clear my overscheduled calendar.  The gift of time was given to us and I was ready to embrace it. 

Cut to the first day of distance learning with my kids and reality set in that this was not quite what I had imagined.  As we began to navigate this new way of everyday life, feelings of stress and panic began to set in.  How did I get so busy with no appointments on my calendar?  How am I supposed to answer questions about 5th grade math?  Why is my 2nd grader asking the most ridiculous questions?  Does she do this at school?  And if I get one more freakin’ email or group text, I am seriously going to lose my mind! 

Suddenly my newfound time was being exchanged for demands that, quite honestly, I didn’t sign up for.  This onslaught of overwhelmig and new expectations forced me to take a step back and reset.  So, I write this post (more as a reminder to myself than anything else) of ways to reset as we get used to this “new normal”.

  • Take a Moment – In times like these, it annoys the crap out of me when suddenly we’re supposed to be all Positive Polly. If that’s your thing then by all means, you keep doing you.  But if you’re like me, then just take a moment to feel angry, annoyed, frustrated, sad, etc.  There’s nothing wrong with feeling that way, but it is important that you release those feelings in a healthy way, so your family doesn’t vote you off the island.  Annoyed that people decided to buy 20 jumbo packs of toilet paper and left you with none?  Frustrated that your kids keep asking you for food…I mean didn’t I just feed them?  Sad that an important event in your life was cancelled?  Then scream into a pillow, slam it on the floor, have a good cry or dance around the room to Rage Against the Machine (or whatever music helps you get it out).  Just get it out and move on.
  • Choose How to Spend Your Time – All of us get 24 hours a day so what we choose to do with it, is up to us. It doesn’t always feel like a choice, but it really is when you get right down to it.  This past week made me think of a quote from the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown, “If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.”  This prompted me to get back into my routine to get up earlier than my kids so that I have some “me time” before everyone else’s priorities take over my day.
  • Meditate – Meditation has been a game changer for me. I have always considered it “my time”, but since my kids were home and I desperately needed to meditate, I asked them if they wanted to do it with me.  It turns out, they enjoy it too and now it’s something we are working on practicing together on a regular basis.

    Kim’s girls

  • Keep Moving – Whether it is going for a walk outside, doing a virtual class or dancing around your house, keep your body moving. Those endorphins can really help reset your mood.  I get it.  When you are in your comfy “day jammies”
  • Practice Gratitude – You have probably heard it before but taking time to be grateful for what you have can do wonders to help you manage stress. So how do you feel grateful when things feel like they are hitting the fan?  I recently learned from an amazing life coach, Christine Hassler, who suggested asking yourself “What is this person/moment teaching me?”.  This has really helped me accept and find purpose in the shitty things people have done and the shitty moments I have had to live through because it helped me grow as a person. 
  • Connect but Disconnect – It’s so amazing to me how we can still stay connected to people through technology while being sequestered to our homes. I don’t know about you though, but I feel like suddenly I have been bombarded by messages and emails that can be both distracting and a total time suck.  We all need connection.  It is essential to us as humans no matter how introverted you think you are.  However, scrolling through Facebook viewing other people’s lives from the outside is not connection in my opinion.  Pick up the phone (remember that?) and actually talk to someone you haven’t been in touch with in a while.  And start limiting your time spent checking email and texts.  I recently decided to put rules in place for myself to only check my phone 3x/day.  It is also set on Do Not Disturb from 8pm to 9am so if you don’t get a reply from me, you know why.

I am confident at the end of this that we will all be stronger.  Not because we stayed home (I mean seriously, there are harder things in life than being asked to stay home), but because it forced us to take the time to really understand the importance of taking time to care for ourselves, our families and the true priorities in our lives.  So, hang in there and live well!

~Kim Stone, Wellness Coach

Why It’s Important To Create A Sleep Ritual

Nowadays, a good night’s rest often seems like a luxury few can afford. With never ending to-do lists, bright light exposure, and high stress environments, trying to get those prime 8-9 hours of sleep seems like a daunting task. But your sleep could be one of your most important assets to protect.

Her are some amazing benefits that come from sleep:

  • Improved cognitive function and ability to learn and memorize new material
  • Regulates appetite, blood insulin levels, and hunger and fullness hormones
  • Aids in athletic performance and promotes better recovery

Here are some tips to create effective sleep habits:

  • Create a sleep schedule: go to bed at around the same time and wake up at the same time everyday – including weekends. This is important for your body’s circadian rhythm.
  • Be careful not to consume caffeine too late in the day
  • If you find that you can’t fall asleep because your mind is racing with the events of the day or the thoughts for tomorrow, keep a journal by your bedside and do a “brain dump” of all of your thoughts before going to bed
  • Meditate or stretch (or both!) to relax the mind and the body
  • Take a hot shower or bath: this raises your core temperature, and your body cooling itself down signals that it is time to sleep
  • Keep your room dark, cool, and free of gadgets. The large amount of light exposure in the evenings from street lights and televisions disrupts our natural circadian rhythms. Try to limit screen time before bed, and hang curtains or blinds to block the extra light from outside. If possible, charge your phone in another room so that you aren’t tempted to look at it before bed, and you will have the added bonus of not being tempted to look at your phone first thing the following morning as well.

Enjoy experimenting with these ideas to see which ones help you get those hours of shut eye in. Creating a ritual for sleep could make the unwinding of the day something you enjoy and look forward to!

~Katie Conn, Wellness Coach

Why It’s Important To Stay Hydrated

Are you drinking enough? Water, that is! Our bodies are approximately 60% water and we are constantly losing it through elimination and every day functions. So, how much do we really need? The rule of thumb has always been 8 glasses of 8 ounces every day. Think of it as the 8×8 rule. This is a great tool and a good way for most people to stay hydrated. There are some exceptions though. We should consumer more water:

  • When we exercise or play sports
  • If it is particularly hot and you’re sweating
  • If you’ll be out in the heat for extended periods of time.

Plain water is not the only key to hydration. There are other sources for total body hydration such as meat, eggs and especially fruits and vegetables. A few of the top choices of foods high in water content include watermelon, strawberries, peaches and cucumbers. A refreshing treat can be water infused with some fruit, veggies or even spices/herbs. Milk, tea and juice (careful here) also contribute towards your body’s total.

If you are feeling thirsty… drink. It is our body’s way of telling us we need more water. A good way to check on your fluid status is to take a peek in the toilet! Your urine should be a light color yellow and free of odor. If it is dark or has a strong odor that is a sign of dehydration. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, headaches, nausea/vomiting, skin problems, dry mouth/lips, no tear production, muscle cramps, low blood pressure and a rapid heart rate and difficulty breathing. Prolonged dehydration can lead to organ failure and even death.

Overall, listen to your body. Keep a reusable water bottle with you daily and sip often. Have a daily water goal in mind. And, just don’t stress about it!

~ Kristin Fredericks, Wellness Coach

ASK THE NUTRITION COACH – PART I

Did you know that March is National Nutrition month? I’m sure we can all agree that nutrition is crucial for your health. But oftentimes people think that healthy nutrition only matters for weight loss. Time and time again I’m hearing that people are eating whatever they want but that “it’s okay because they aren’t overweight”. But did you know that nutrition impacts more than just your weight? Nutrition impacts every aspect of our lives whether you know it or not. You know that saying “you are what you eat?”. Well it’s true!


Nutrition is such a confusing subject. One day you’ll hear that whole grains are the key to good health, and the next day you’ll hear that super low carb diets are the answer. And to make things even more confusing, what works for one person might not work for you. So to help you navigate this crazy nutrition world, we’ve asked the Cornerstone Nutrition Coaches to answer some of the most popular nutrition questions.

SHOULD I COUNT CALORIES? – KIM STONE

I do not recommend counting calories for several reasons.  First, it is time consuming and ain’t nobody got time for that!  Second, some people get so obsessive with calorie counting that they lose sight of what’s important and having the right mindset is super important when it comes to optimal health and/or weight loss.  Finally, new research has challenged the idea that a calorie is a calorie.  A study that appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that even though participants ate the same number of calories, those that followed a low-carb, low glycemic index plan (which includes a variety of high fiber and minimally processed foods) burned more calories than those on the low-fat eating plan. 

Instead of focusing on counting calories, focus on the bigger picture by identifying your health goal and coming up with a plan to get there.  Different ways that may help you achieve your goals are to increase your dietary quality (more whole foods and less processed foods), managing stress and including physical activity that you enjoy into your daily routine. 

If you truly want to track your food then I would recommend keeping a food diary so you can identify trends in your diet and see how you feel when you eat those foods.  It can be very eye opening and empowering to really listen to your body and cut back/eliminate foods that simply don’t make you feel good.

DOES DIETARY FAT MAKE YOU FAT? – MORGAN FINK

Fat is one of the three essential macronutrients your body can get energy from (along with carbs and protein). This means that eating dietary fat is actually essential for our survival! Along with giving us energy, they also help protect our organs, help us absorb certain nutrients and even produce important hormones.

There are 3 main types of fat: saturated, unsaturated, and trans fat. Unsaturated fat has often been called the “good” fat. It can help you raise your good cholesterol and lower your bad cholesterol . Certain types also have anti-inflammatory properties as well. Saturated fat has some mixed opinions. It used to be viewed as something to avoid, but new studies are showing that saturated fat might actually have some health benefits. However trans fat are something that you will want to avoid entirely. They will raise your bad cholesterol and lower your good cholesterol, which can cause plaque buildup in your arteries and increase your risk of heart disease.

So go ahead and eat high fat foods such as avocado, olive oil, nuts, flax seeds, salmon, tuna, and olives. Just make sure that you don’t overdo it with the quantity. Too much of anything (even if it’s healthy), isn’t a good thing.

CONFUSED? LET US HELP!

Stay tuned for part 2 of our “Ask the Nutrition Coaches” post where you will get the answer to two more popular questions: 1) Do you need to cut carbs in order to lose weight? And 2) Why is protein so important?

If you need help navigating all of this confusing information, let us help you! Cornerstone offers nutrition counseling at all 3 of its locations for both members and non-members. Meet with a certified Nutrition Coach to figure out the healthy lifestyle habits that are right for your individual needs and goals. Call the club most convenient to you to get started:

Warrington – 215.918.5900
Doylestown – 215.794.3700
New Hope – 215-862-2200

ASK THE NUTRITION COACH – PART II

Earlier this month we asked our nutrition coaches if calorie counting is important and if dietary fat makes you fat (see Part I of our blog series HERE).   Hopefully this helped clear some things up for you and made healthy eating seem a little less overwhelming. So now that you’re not stressing about calories and aren’t afraid to snack on almonds, let’s move on to two more common questions!

DO YOU NEED TO CUT CALORIES TO LOSE WEIGHT? – KATIE CONN

There is a lot of confusion around carbohydrates, and with the advent of low-carb diets, there are a lot of opinions behind whether or not carbohydrates are good or bad for you.  Often times when we think of “carbs” we immediately think of super delicious pastries or that bagel we grabbed as we were rushing to work, but carbohydrates can also include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. 

So are carbohydrates really bad for us?  The short answer: not necessarily!  Carbohydrates are our bodies’ preferred fuel source, and we can easily convert them into energy.  So when you are powering through that tough HITT session with your trainer, carbohydrates are helping you get through those dreaded burpees.  Carbohydrates are also our brains preferred fuel source, so even outside of the gym, carbs can play a vital role in helping you function optimally as you work on projects or presentations. 

When looking to lose weight, the goal will be to stop eating processed carbohydrates and focus more on whole food sources such as fruit, vegetables, grains, and legumes.  Processed carbohydrates, such as cookies, chips, and muffins, are not helpful in stabilizing blood sugar and it is really easy to overeat them since they are not filling and they are super delicious.  However, the whole food sources of carbohydrates are rich in nutrients and fiber and will help you feel satisfied with your meals while also feeling awesome as you power through your day and get in those workouts.  So you do not necessarily need to cut carbohydrates in order to lose weight, but rather look to swap some of your typical carbohydrate foods with more whole food options.

WHY IS PROTEIN SO IMPORTANT? – CHERYL WATKINS

A good protein target for each meal is 15-20 grams. If you are unable to measure your proteins, use the palm test – your protein portion should be the diameter of your palm and the thickness of a deck of cards. No one needs to be eating 8-10 ounces of any protein source at one meal!

Macronutrients are the nutrients that our bodies require in the largest amount to sustain good health, energy, strength, cognitive function – and so much more. We get “micronutrients” — vitamins and minerals — from ample amounts or macronutrients – proteins, carbohydrates and fats. The macro that we need to build and maintain muscle in our bodies is Protein.

We often hear that eating extra protein builds more muscle. However, this is not the case. Unlike carbohydrates and fats, our bodies do not have a mechanism to store proteins. Therefore, we do not have a reservoir to draw on when we need a new supply. So, the old concept of “well, it’s protein, I can eat as much as I want” is a myth. The fact is, we need less total protein than most people think. However, we need a strong protein source at each meal, balanced with a serving of a fat and carbohydrate. Of the three macronutrients, protein is the last to be broken down and metabolized, so it helps to keep us satiated for longer periods of time. This, coupled with the fact that eating protein with carbs keeps our blood sugar stable, is essential for losing weight by reducing hunger.

The only way to build muscle is by exercising with ample protein in your body. Amino Acids, which are the building blocks of proteins, are needed to heal the exercised tissue strained from weight lifting or from using our own body weight for resistance training. We don’t create more muscle just by eating more protein and we don’t create more muscle by exercising without essential amino acids in our bodies. It is important to time the intake of proteins around our workouts.

Dietary sources of protein include: eggs, fish, turkey, chicken, beef, soy, dairy – all with varying amounts of saturated fats. The egg white is the portion of the egg which contains protein. One egg white provides 4 grams of protein and is a complete and optimal source of Amino Acids.

For vegetarians, it is very important to consume adequate protein! This is important in order to maintain a healthy body composition (muscle to fat ratio). Be sure to include foods that have a variety of different proteins in them. Some examples of non-animal protein sources are: black beans, lentils, quinoa and oatmeal.

One helpful tip for dining out: proteins are measured raw and lose 1.0-1.5 ounces once cooked. So, your 8 ounce filet will be closer to 6.5 ounces when it arrives to your table.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

If you feel like you know the “what”, but don’t know the “how” when it comes to nutrition then reach out to someone for support because it is not a one size fits all when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle.  Cornerstone offers nutrition counseling that can help you get past the overwhelm and provide you with the guidance you need to achieve your health goals. Call the club most convenient to you to get started:

Warrington – 215.918.5900
Doylestown – 215.794.3700
New Hope – 215-862-2200

Stay Healthy By Boosting Your Immunity

Immunity is a BIG topic right now! At Cornerstone, we continue to encourage members to wash hands regularly and wipe down gym equipment before and after use.   But what can you do beyond the gym walls to help?  The Cornerstone Wellness Team put together a few Immunity-Boosting Tips to help today and EVERY DAY to boost your resistance!

EXERCISE

Moderate levels of exercise don’t just lead to general good health. Exercise may contribute more directly to the immune response by enabling healthy circulation. Your immune response will be more efficient thanks to that good circulation! With that said, DON’T OVERDO IT! If your exercise sessions bring your body to exhaustion, it can hinder the immune response.

MANAGE STRESS

We all have it! Whether it’s work demands, family obligations, or the environmental toxins that surround us, we are constantly putting stress on our bodies. The real question is – how do we deal with it? It can be as simple as a walk outside in the sunshine or something new, like a mindfulness practice but recognizing, acknowledging and responding to your stress can help keep stress hormones – which suppress immune response – to a minimum.

SLEEP WELL

Sleep is imperative to restoring your body’s immune function. Lack of sleep can affect stress hormones and alter hunger hormones, which can in turn cause you to eat less healthy foods.

REDUCE INFLAMMATION

The most controllable source of inflammation is your diet. Cut out highly processed foods, meat, sugar, alcohol, and vegetable oils.

EAT WELL

Deficiencies in specific vitamins and minerals, like vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and selenium, can hinder your first line of defense against germs. Check out the list below for some suggestions to boost your immunity:

  • This one is a given but foods high in vitamin C: Citrus foods like oranges, grapefruit, lemon and limes; kiwis, apples, berries, spinach and bell peppers
  • Almonds: with big supplies of Vitamin E, this antioxidant fights off free radicals in the body
  • Sweet Potatoes: High in B vitamins and the antioxidant, Vitamin A
  • Pumpkin Seeds: these little dynamos are high in Zinc
  • Fish: Yellowfin tuna, sardines, oysters, clams, halibut, shrimp, salmon, and crab all have good levels of selenium; Don’t eat meat? Try Brazil Nuts instead!
  • Garlic: Garlic has antiviral compounds that help in fighting off infection
  • Spices: They don’t just spice up your life, they add to it! Ginger, cayenne, cinnamon, oregano and turmeric. Pro tip- eat turmeric with black pepper to increase absorption!
  • Dark Leafy Greens: Dark leafy greens are some of the most nutritious foods on the planet, and adding more to your diet will provide you with a host of health benefits. Dark leafy greens have
  • vitamin C, iron, folate, and vitamin A as well as many other beneficial vitamins and minerals.

The Wellness Team at Cornerstone is available to guide you to resources at Cornerstone that will help with nutrition, stress-management, exercise and wellbeing. Stop by the service desk in your home club to set up a complimentary appointment.

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