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CornerStone Blog

Author: Teresa Whitcomb

Why It’s Important To Stay Hydrated

It’s critically 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 consume 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.

Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

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.

Milk, tea and juice can also help you stay hydrated.

If you are feeling thirsty…

Then 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

Learn about Wellness Coaching at Cornerstone.

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!  Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the simple steps they can take to boost their immunity daily.  At Cornerstone, we maintain strict cleaning and sanitizing standards.  We also follow all state and federal guidelines with regard to disease prevention.  In addition, we strongly encourage people 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 you fortify your resistance to illness today and EVERY DAY!

Group of exercisers

EXERCISE AND BOOST YOUR IMMUNITY

As most of us know, moderate levels of exercise lead to general good health. In fact, exercise may be one of the greatest “bug busters” out there.  It turns out that regular moderate exercise contributes directly to the body’s 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.

Meditation to reduce stress and boost immunity

MANAGE STRESS AND IMPROVE YOUR RESISTANCE

We all have it! Whether its 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. The simple truth is that recognizing, acknowledging and responding to your stress can help keep stress hormones – which suppress immune response – to a minimum.

Get better sleep and boost immunity

SLEEP WELL FOR RESTORATION

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.  Practice good sleep hygiene by limiting exposure to blue light in the evenings. It is also recommended that you stick to a regular bedtime and try to stay active throughout your day.  More and better sleep will boost your immunity.

REDUCE INFLAMMATION

The most controllable source of inflammation is your diet. For powerful a powerful immune boost, cut out highly processed foods, meat, sugar, alcohol, and vegetable oils.

Eating a healthy diet of unprocessed foods boosts immunity

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. In addition, dark leafy greens have vitamin C, iron, folate, and vitamin A and many other beneficial vitamins and minerals.

If you would like some expert guidance on taking steps toward living a healthier lifestyle, contact us here at Cornerstone.  Our Wellness Team is available to help you design a plan that’s perfect for you.  When you work with a Wellness Coach, you will collaborate on a plan for living a fully healthy lifestyle.  This well rounded plan will include nutrition, stress-management and exercise components.

Doylestown – 215.794.3700

New Hope – 215.862.2200

Learn more about Wellness Coaching at Cornerstone.

This February, LOVE your heart!

February is traditionally the month for love and all things heart related. February is also American Heart Month which reminds us to take good care of our hearts and focus on our heart health. Did you know cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States? Every year, 1 in every 4 deaths is caused by heart disease – that is over 800,000 people in the U.S. alone.

Love your heart - are you at risk?

Are you at risk?

Cardiovascular disease is the term used to encompass all types of diseases that affect the heart or blood vessels. Heart disease and the related diseases that go with it can happen at any age. High rates of obesity and high blood pressure among younger people (35-64) are putting them at risk for heart disease earlier in life. Are you at risk? Do you know what the top leading risk factors are? Half of all Americans have at least one risk factor. 

The three main risk factors are high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. Other conditions and risk factors that increase your risk include: obesity, diabetes, physical inactivity and unhealthy eating patterns. Luckily, there is a lot you can do to start living a heart healthy lifestyle and to love your heart. Think GO RED.

Love your heart - monitor blood pressure regularly.

G: GET your numbers.

Go to your doctor and have your blood pressure and cholesterol checked.

O: OWN your lifestyle!

Start exercising. You should exercise 30-45 minutes each day and at least 2 of those days should be strengthening exercises. Change your eating habits. Start to eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean meat. Limit foods that are high in saturated fats and sodium as well as foods that are high in sugar/ other sweeteners. Stop smoking. The chemicals in tobacco harm our hearts and blood vessels. Pick a date to quit, tell your family and friends and quit together or ask for support. Schedule regular well appointments with your doctor. It’s your life…. OWN it!

R: RECOGNIZE your risk!

We all think it won’t happen to us!

E: EDUCATE!

Yourself, your family and others! Teach the importance of a healthy lifestyle!

D: DON’T be silent!

Tell everyone that heart disease is the number 1 cause of death in America and make sure those you love are informed so they can make the best choices for their health!

Learn more about Wellness Coaching at Cornerstone.

Good News – Chocolate Has Benefits!

We’ve all heard that we should eat more fruits and vegetables. But, who among us wouldn’t like to hear “eat more chocolate”? Sounds too good to be true, right? But nutrition science is happily revealing that chocolate can, in fact, be good for you!  Amazingly, chocolate has many benefits.

Chocolate has benefits - one is improved blood flow.
And you don’t have to eat massive amounts to reap the rewards.  Eating just 1 to 2 ounces of chocolate every day may result in some major health benefits. But, it’s important to choose the right kind of chocolate.  Make sure you choose dark chocolate with at least 70% or more cacao/cocoa content. The darker the chocolate, the higher amount of key vitamins and minerals. These include things like magnesium, manganese, fiber, iron, copper, selenium, phosphorus and potassium.

Improved Blood Flow

The flavanols found in dark chocolate help arteries relax, improving blood flow and preventing clots.

Lower Risk Of Heart Disease

The compounds in dark chocolate reduce LDL (low density lipoprotein – otherwise known as “bad cholesterol”).  They also support cardiovascular health by lowering the risk of heart attack, stroke and heart failure.

Chocolate has benefits - another is improved cognitive function.

Cognitive Function

Researchers have found that chocolate increases blood flow to the brain.

Diabetes Prevention

Studies have revealed that people who ate about 3 ounces of dark chocolate a day for 15 days lowered their insulin resistance significantly.

Stress Reduction

Dark chocolate produces stress busting endorphins.

Chocolate has benefits - another is stress reduction.

Fights Fatigue

Dark chocolate enhances the actions of neurotransmitters in your brain, like serotonin, to help regulate your mood and sleep.

Good for Teeth

Dark chocolate contains theobromine, which has been proven to harden tooth enamel.  It also contains cocoa butter which covers teeth with a protective coating, impeding bacteria growth.

Improved Gastrointestinal Flora

Dark chocolate is a probiotic food.

Athletic Performance

Findings published in The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggest that a little dark chocolate might boost oxygen availability during fitness training.  The scientists believe that the success of dark chocolate in this case is that it contains flavonols known as epicatechins, which enhance the release of nitric oxide in the body.

This Valentine’s Day, don’t hesitate to buy your loved one a box of chocolates – just make sure they are dark chocolates.  When eaten in moderation, dark chocolate’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties make it a great choice for a treat (after you’ve eaten a meal of healthy protein and good veggies and fruit of course)!

Learn more about Wellness Coaching at Cornerstone.

Start The New Year Off The SMART Way

Whether you believe in creating New Years Resolutions or not, the beginning of a new year is a great time to reflect on the previous year and create goals and intentions for the next year.  Creating new goals is a great way to grow and to challenge yourself, but how do we go about actually achieving these goals? We are constantly creating New Year’s Resolutions and then joking about how we never follow through with them.  Statistically, more than 80% of New Year’s Resolutions never come to fruition, most attempts being lost come the second week of February. So what can be done differently so that your goals do not fall by the wayside like so many others?  I would like to suggest two changes: how you go about setting your goal, and how you go about setting your mindset to achieve said goal.

Could there be a specific formula in creating a goal that can put it at better odds of coming to fruition?  Don’t we set goals all the time?  Must we really have a lesson on creating a goal? We have all been met with an overwhelming desire to eat healthier, move more, drink more water, get more sleep – do we really need to learn how to create a goal?  While these are all excellent ideas, there are a lot of pieces missing. A system for creating clear goals with actionable steps to achieve them is summed up in the mnemonic SMART. 

WHAT IS A SMART GOAL?

Specific – Drink more water, eat healthier, exercise more.  These are great, but what they lack is specificity.  What exactly does it mean to “eat healthier”? When will you know if you have actually “exercised more”?  Up your goal setting game by making your objective very specific. For example, consider the examples of eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.  This goal is far more specific as opposed to “eat healthier”. Alongside the actual WHAT of the goal, you can consider the specifics of WHEN you will take the steps to achieve this goal (every meal, I will eat a serving of vegetables), WHERE this action will take place, and WHY this goal is important to you (I feel better when I include more fresh produce in my diet). 

Measurable – Once you have created your specific goal, now is the time to figure out how you will track your progress through measurement.  How will you know you have achieved your goal? Let us consider the above goal again of eating more fruits and vegetables. Rather than vaguely defining “more fruits and vegetables”, be specific and state that you  will aim to eat 5 servings.  By adding a specific measurement, you can assess where you are now (perhaps you only eat 1 serving every day), what your next steps could be (aim to eat 2 servings), and you will be able to know exactly when you have successfully achieved your goal.

Achievable – We are all pretty familiar with the saying “Your eyes were bigger than your stomach” with regard to food. Well, this same idiom can be used with regard to setting a new objective.  It is certainly a worthy goal to want to run a marathon, but if running isn’t part of your normal exercise routine yet, aiming for a more achievable goal like running a 5k will set you up for greater success.  Goals will probably stretch your ability, in fact we often do the most growing by being in uncomfortable situations, but they shouldn’t be so out of reach that they become impossible.

Relevant – Why would achieving this goal be important to you?  How could this add to your life? Answering this question can help keep you going when you might want to otherwise give up.  Other questions to ask yourself to find out if this is the right goal for you right now could be: Does this goal align with the other values in my life?  Does this goal match the effort that I am willing and able to give? If you answer yes to these questions, then you are well on your way toward success.

Time-bound – Finally your goal should have a deadline to help keep you on track and focused.  What steps do you need to take today, this week, this month to get closer to your deadline?  When we don’t create a deadline for ourselves, it is easy to let other actions take priority.

NOW WHAT?

So you have created your goal with the SMART principles, now what?  What else can you do to set yourself up for success? Maybe you have created goals that follow SMART and you still weren’t able to succeed.  What gives? The truth is that with change comes a lot of discomfort, and we as humans don’t really like to be in uncomfortable situations. Unless we address our mindset and environmental structures that are constantly acting against us, we might still struggle to succeed, even with a super specific and measurable plan.  But fear not, here are some ideas to consider:

Think small – start breaking your goal down into the smallest means possible.  Will this take longer?  Perhaps. Will this be more sustainable and more beneficial?  Absolutely.  As stated before, we don’t like being uncomfortable.  However, overcoming mild discomfort lights up the reward centers in our brain and propels us forward.  As you continue overcome small obstacles, your brain will start saying, “I like this”, and you will be motivated to keep going.

Keep your commitments to yourself – If you make a commitment with a friend, you generally would hold yourself to it, right?  We don’t often make lunch plans with people and then constantly cancel on them. Why not? Because we care about these people and respect their time, and additionally we all know after a while of continuing to do this, people might not want to make plans with you.  So consider this goal as a commitment to yourself that you will keep because you value yourself and this is certainly worth the effort. YOU are worth the effort.

Set up your environment for success – Identify things in your daily life that are constantly battling your efforts.  Perhaps you wish to eliminate processed snacks from your diet, but that bag of chips in your cupboard is constantly laughing at you and looking to derail your progress.  Perhaps you are trying to limit your fast food intake, but the golden arches are calling your name as you drive home from work absolutely ravenous. Don’t approach these challenges as something you must endure, rather use this as information to create a plan to make this easier on yourself.  Don’t bring things into your environment that don’t serve you. Set up your kitchen so that it will aid in your success, if this is applicable; only bring home foods that put you closer to your goal and throw out what sets you back. Pack healthy snacks if you find yourself constantly battling hunger at 4:00pm. 

Build your support team – there is strength in numbers, and along with the personal pressures that you might find yourself battling, we are constantly inundated with societal influences and pressures that might not be beneficial to you.  Create a team to help you carry out this objective or that will encourage you toward the finish. Speak to your partner about dietary changes you would like to make so that they can either do this alongside of you, or at the very least, be aware of the changes you are making for yourself.  Consider making a weekly walking date with a friend to keep you accountable with movement. You shouldn’t have to do this alone, and people like to be there for others in support. Who knows, perhaps the people in your life also want to make changes, and you vocalizing yours might be the springboard they need to take steps in their lives.  Sometimes we never really know the positive effects our actions may make on those who observe them. 

Now that we have provided you with some steps to create a path for success, go forth and conquer!  If you still need help with creating your goals and establishing a plan for success, reach out to one of your wellness coaches.  There is a team of wellness coaches at each Cornerstone location that is excited to hear about your goals and would love to help you in achieving them!    

Surviving The Holidays

If you’re like me, you hear the word holidays and you initially get this excited feeling remembering all the great things that the holidays bring – fun music, beautiful decorations, smiles from the kids and a warm, cozy feeling while you spend time with family and friends. 

Warrington Wellness Coach Kim Stone and her family at Cliff Walk in Newport, RI.

Then reality sets in, and you realize it’s not quite the Norman Rockwell moment you have pictured in your head.  Stress and anxiety begin to set in just thinking about everything that needs to get done and the conversation in your head starts to go something like this: 

“Did I actually say that I wanted to host this year?  I must have been on crack when I said that.”

“How many days are left until the new year?  Crap!  I haven’t even started working on my resolutions from THIS year yet.”

“How am I going to stay on track with healthy eating when people keep bringing in such yummy cookies?  I mean I don’t want to be rude and not eat ANY of them with all the blood, sweat and tears that went into making them.  I’ll just have one or maybe two.  Well this third one was stuck to the second so that really only counts as one, right?”

“When am I going to find time to get shopping done let alone workout?  Ugh!”

Trying to juggle it all on a daily basis as a mom is pretty exhausting.  Now,  throw in the chaos of the holidays and I go into straight up survival mode.  This usually means falling back into old habits where exercising and eating healthy fall to the bottom of the priority list, but I am determined that this year will be different.  So how do you manage to survive the holidays and stay on track with your health?

  • Bring Something to the Party – Not only will your host be happy that you’ve brought a delicious dish, but you’ll also have food that can help keep you on track with your health goals. Try this Faux Cookie Dough Dip.  This recipe is a definite crowd pleaser for all ages.
  • Get Plenty of Sleep – Lack of sleep can lead to mood swings, decreased productivity, lowered immune function and sleep shopping (you know when you are so tired and you purchase items online that you have no recollection of actually purchasing the next day like a giant blow up unicorn sprinkler…no regrets). Getting enough sleep each night will ensure that you are your best self for the holidays and also prevent you from biting everyone’s heads off.  Trust me, your family and probably your co-workers will appreciate it.
  • Be Mindful – Did you know that diet and exercise are only 50% of the equation to weight loss? In addition to diet and exercise, you need to make sure you are moving (more on that below) and that you have a positive mindset.  Mindfulness practices such as meditation or yoga require no special training or ability and they have been scientifically proven to improve physical health, reduce anxiety and enhance happiness.
  • Keep Moving – It’s great to exercise, but it’s even better to make sure you are staying active and moving throughout the day. What’s the difference?  Exercise is a type of movement with a distinct goal – burn fat, build muscle, get faster, get stronger or train longer.  Movement is just what you do when you are living life.  We are built to move.  Go for a stroll and go shopping at Peddler’s Village, take the stairs instead of the escalator at the mall or simply go for a walk with the dog or your family (whichever one you enjoy more).  Aim for 10,000 steps per day which equals about 2 hours of movement.
  • Give Yourself Grace – Hey, it’s the holidays. It’s crazy for everyone.  Don’t beat yourself up about it.  Now is not the time to get all judgy on yourself about not having the perfect health routine.  You may indulge a little bit more or your workout routine may be slightly off this season, but don’t stress yourself out.  Chronic stress can actually be harmful to your health and forces your body to pile on fat especially around the middle.  Give yourself permission to be kind to yourself and give yourself some grace. 
  • Get Support – Are you feeling overwhelmed and need some guidance on your fitness goals? You are not alone on this journey.  We are here to help you.  Make a free appointment with a wellness coach.  That’s what we’re here for – to help support you in your goals towards better health.  You can schedule your appointment at any time by calling your preferred club location.
    Doylestown – 215.794.3700; New Hope – 215.862.2200; Warrington – 215.918.5900

How To Eat Healthy When Dining Out

It is often a challenge to eat healthy when dining out.  As we enter into the holiday season, you may find yourself not only partaking in holiday cheer at home, but dining out more than usual as well.  Americans already dine away from home nearly three times more than they did in the 1970’s and this increases during the holiday season.  I ask clients not be a statistic during the holidays. The average weight gain between Halloween and New Year’s is 7 pounds.  One of the ways you can avoid this and start the New Year off a bit healthier is to practice “dining out techniques” that will allow you to enjoy yourself without feeling uncomfortable or unhealthy.

Eat healthy when dining out.

Like anything else, following “healthy” dining out techniques gets easier with practice. See how many you can implement not only during the holiday season, but all year round.

Prepare for success. Pick the restaurant based on your research and know where you can get fresh, healthy, lower calorie, low fat meals.

Look up the menu and nutritional data before you go. Knowing what you are going to order before you get there will help.

If you know you are going out to eat, don’t skip other meals, but eat less to prepare for your restaurant meal. Shakes can be a “decision-free” meal option.

Have a high-fiber snack before you go to curb your hunger. Try something like an apple, carrots, low-sodium vegetable soup, Triscuits.

Decide in advance what you will splurge on and what you can do without.

If you drink alcohol, keep to wine or light beer. No sugary drinks. You may want to skip fruit during the day. Alternate drinks with water or sparkling water.

Put off ordering a drink until you have food in your belly. If you drink on an empty belly, you’re likely to forget about your intentions to eat healthy and rack up 1,000 calories.

Skip the bread and chips. This could be 300-500 calories before you get to your meal.

Share apps. Make sure there is something for you. Try shrimp cocktail, edamame, veggies, mussels marinara.  No potato skins or Buffalo Wings (approx. 200-250 calories/piece)!

Order salad dressing on the side, or just use plain oil and vinegar. Go light on the oil. No Caesar dressing!

Consider ordering off an appetizer and a side dish instead of a full entre.

If you order a main entre, you may need to divide your meal in half (on the plate) immediately. It is extra important to pay attention to serving sizes when eating out.

Split an entrée with a friend or loved one.

Don’t let people push you into eating things that are bad for you. Be proud to be an example of eating healthy. You may encourage someone else.

Main Course – think broiled, boiled, baked, steamed or grilled. Not crispy, sautéed, au gratin or fried.

Remember that the leaner a protein in its natural state, the more calories and fat when fried. No fish-n-chips.

If you are stumped, order grilled protein and a double order of steamed vegetables.

Enjoy your company. People often lose site that they are dining out to enjoy the company of friends and family. Make that the priority instead of your meal. However, you should still order something that you will enjoy. Be satiated by multiple senses – vision, sight and taste.

Opt for fresh berries or fruit salad for dessert. To opt out of dessert, order a warm beverage to keep your hands busy while others enjoy their desserts. You will be less likely to pick at the high calorie, high fat desserts that others have ordered.

Eat healthy when dining out by planning ahead.

 

Lastly, keep in mind that healthful eating in not about being “perfect”. If you get carried away, hopefully on really good food that you can’t get all of the time, don’t sweat it. One night of over-indulgence won’t rack up lots of pounds. Just be sure to get back on track the next day.

Cheryl Watkins, CHHC, Nutrition & Wellness Counselor, Doylestown.

*Members, did you know that you can schedule a free wellness appointment at any time?  Get fitness and nutrition tips, a review of your current program, a free Inbody Analysis – or just great conversation!  Call or stop by member services at any location to check availability.

Injuries Can Have An Upside

There’s no predicting when injury will occur.

It happened in about half a second. My knee extended too far forward in a lunge.   Then, I felt a little tug in my calf that quickly gave way to a feeling very much like a ‘charlie-horse’.

Almost an hour later when I went to walk out of class, I knew it was much more than a cramp. Later that afternoon, a doctor in the urgent care told me that I likely had torn my calf. A subsequent MRI showed ‘longitudinal tears in the medial head of the left gastrocnemius.’

Even with this relatively minor injury, I was looking at having to sit out almost 4 weeks of fitness classes. Anyone who knows me will realize that this was a HUGE blow.   The psychological jolt was likely more of a shock to my body than the actual initial injury (I teach or participate in 10+ classes a week . . .) .  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have some moments of panic.

Injuries can have an upside according to Cornerstone instructor Michael Strouse.

Michael, post-recovery, teaching Group Active in New Hope

Injuries can create fear, doubt and other negative thinking.

“Will I gain weight? Will I instantaneously become less fit? Will my class participants be OK?”    I’m not necessarily saying those moments of panic were rooted in reality. But they were there!  I could have let injuries get me down as I have in the past.  I could have let what I CAN’T do lead the way. I also could have said “well, you can’t spin so working out isn’t possible.”

I am lucky, though, to have access to a great group of fitness professionals.  After talking to a few of them, this injury started to become less of a setback and more of an opportunity. I decided to be my own Wellness Coach and navigate my way to something positive.

Injuries can be an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive.

Instead of focusing on the calories I wouldn’t be burning, I realized I could train in a totally different way. Conversations with my colleague Cameron Crosley (a strength and conditioning trainer) resurfaced in my mind and the plan started to take shape. I have a tremendous amount of cardio endurance, but training cardio consistently can limit one’s ability to build muscle. By taking a break from cardio for a few weeks, I could really dial in a hypertrophic training plan, especially for my upper body.

In addition, I had to look at my diet to make sure it matched this training pattern by supporting muscle growth in addition to fueling (and not over-fueling) my daily activities. While this is something I am always conscious of, a back-to-square-one approach can be both refreshing and eye opening to bad habits that we have allowed to creep into our daily life.

The disruption hasn’t been easy but it’s been helped along, not only by my colleagues at Cornerstone, but also by the members! Because I didn’t let my injury keep me benched, my workouts are accompanied with well-wishes and smiles! It’s more than enough to make me work harder outside of my comfort zone.

Injuries can have an upside according to Cornerstone Wellness Coaches.

Michael in the ‘always welcoming’ New Hope Wellness Office

As a Wellness Coach, I meet with members almost every day who are dealing with injuries or setbacks. By showing up, they’ve made the decision to make a change! It’s my job to connect them to the resources they need for success! Our Wellness program isn’t just for when you join! Wellness at Cornerstone is a resource for all of our members who experience or desire a change! As a true fitness community, we all have the opportunity to contribute to each other’s success. I’m thankful that the community was behind me as I dealt with my own injury, and you should know that the entire Wellness team is behind YOU as well!

Schedule a free appointment with any of our wellness coaches at any time by calling your preferred club location.

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