Crossroads Fitness Blog

Crossroads Fitness Blog

Fitness and health bring freedom to do things

July 25, 2018

Freedom means different things to different people. Most would agree freedom in the United Stables enables us to learn, work, speak and generally enjoy life. 

Consider, though, that fitness and a healthy lifestyle also give you freedom — the freedom to do things, whether it’s routine chores or favorite activities. 

It’s never too late and no one is ever too old to improve fitness. Start with the basic four areas of fitness: flexibility, cardiovascular endurance, strength and nutrition. When you combine these four areas, you’re on the right path.

Flexibility involves more than just touching your toes. Such daily activities such as getting in and out of vehicles, walking through the grocery store and housework all requirement movement. 

Doing exercises such as yoga will improve your posture and strengthen the core muscles in your abdomen, hips, lower back and pelvis. 

Think of all the small movements you do in a day in which you use these muscles, from reaching for a glass from the cabinet to making your bed. Another major benefit of core strength is balance that can reduce the risk of injury from falls.

Cardio fitness keeps your heart strong and cardiovascular system working properly. 

Starting slowly, if you are beginner, will enable you to enjoy such simple pleasures as playing with your grandchildren or traveling. 

Walking, hiking and dancing are all forms of cardio exercise. Quick read more or view full article Choose an activity you enjoy — you’ll be more apt to want to do it. While starting slowly is a good idea, it’s also important as you become more cardio fit to challenge yourself. Try different types of activities.

Strength training for all ages has become more popular in recent years and for good reason. The benefits are numerous.

Studies show lifting weights two or three times a week increases strength by building muscle mass and bone density. Strength training also can help to reduce the effects of such diseases as arthritis and osteoporosis as well as depression.

Nutrition constitutes yet another key component in total health. Feeding your body the nutrients it requires will provide the fuel you need to not only feel better, but also look better.  

The first step toward freedom is to get started. Talk to your doctor about what’s best for you and then get moving.

Try a fitness class, such a gentle yoga class. There are many beginner classes as well as classes tailored for highly fit individuals. Ask a friend to join you.

Whether you’re already on the path to fitness or just starting out, you’ll enjoy the freedom that comes from being fit and healthy.

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Improve nutrition one bite at a time

February 24, 2016

Think about the age-old question: How do you eat an elephant? Now think about the answer: One bite at a time. Some things in life can seem overwhelming considered as a whole component. Breaking things down into small steps to achieve, change or address something is much easier in bite-size pieces.  This same approach holds true for health and fitness.

Instead of  trying to make huge changes, think about improving your health and fitness by making small changes in your daily routine you can live with. 

This month we’ll talk about nutrition and making small changes that reap big rewards on the scale. 

Here are a few ideas to help you significantly cut calories:

Keeping a food log will help you identify what you are eating — both good and bad. Writing down EVERYTHING you eat and drink can help even the challenged dieter make better choices.

Limit your sugar intake. You might be surprised to find how many items contain sugar.  Read product labels. Take coffee creamer, for example. For me personally, I want to drink my coffee as a treat. I didn’t realize my creamer contained as much sugar as I was limiting myself to for the entire day. By switching to sugar-free creamer, almond milk or black coffee, I was able to cut my sugar intake significantly each day. What I found was that I didn’t really miss it and moved closer toward my goal with just one little change. 

Eating smaller “mini-meals” throughout the day will help curb hunger. It keeps your Quick read more or view full article metabolism going and keeps you more alert and focused. As you might know, eating too little sends a signal to your body to slow down and conserve. Putting your body into starvation mode can produce weight gain as your body isn’t sure when you’ll re-fuel. Such smaller meals as an apple, celery with peanut butter or cut up veggies will keep you from getting so hungry between meals.  

Changes take work and planning. Planning your food for the day or week helps to keep you on track. It’s easier to grab cut-up veggies and a chicken breast from the refrigerator before heading off to work.  Without planning, it’s easy to make unhealthy choices when you get hungry. 

Dressing and sauces contain hidden calories and can double the amount of calories in a meal. Try such alternatives as balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and reduced-calorie dressing or simply go without.

Keep in mind portion control. Plates seem to be getting bigger and everything is super-sized. By visualizing the size of ordinary items, you can better portion your meals. For example, a half cup of almonds looks like the size of a golf ball. A 3-ounce portion of cooked chicken breast is the size of a deck of cards.  The more you use these visualizations, the easier it becomes. I now look at the size of a baked potato and see my computer mouse. That’s a much smaller portion than most restaurants serve.

Remember your water.  By drinking water throughout the day, you not only hydrate your body, but keep it feeling satisfied.  Hydrating, cleansing and refreshing are great ways to think about water.

Take the big picture of nutrition and break it down into smaller parts — literally bite-size pieces. Ask yourself which of these tips could work for you. Try them. These tips offer a few ways you can make small changes in your eating habits. By making small changes, you’ll be amazed at how big the results can be. 

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Plan now to keep off those holiday pounds

November 19, 2014

It’s estimated the average American gains between 5 pounds and 9 pounds during the holiday season. This begins at Halloween  and continues until the New Year. 

It’s not an easy time to keep pounds off. Why? People eat more and exercise less, which results in weight gain. It’s as simple as that.

It all starts with Halloween. You stockpile    bags of candy for the one evening when a few trick-or-treaters might come to your door. The day after, there’s leftover candy and the kids have a sugar source that will surely fuel unhealthy eating habits into the holidays.  

Then, people just put off losing weight until they start marking New Year’s resolutions. You need to remember that Halloween is just one day.

So why is it so hard to stay committed to your healthy eating and exercise plan? The holidays are known for socializing — parties and events centered on food. Many of these food choices are high in calories. 

Another reason is a trap we all fall into, and that’s busy schedules. Not only are we busy all the time, but during the holidays you add in kids’ events, decorating, Christmas cards, shopping, traveling and the list goes on. The stress of the holiday season can leave you exhausted.

So what’s the best way to survive the holiday season and avoid putting on those extra pounds?

Make a plan. 

Here are a few tips to help:

Take out a calendar early — like now. Mark off Quick read more or view full article time for exercise each day. Schedule a little exercise between things on busy days — 10 minutes is better than nothing.  Keep your goals in mind throughout the holiday season. Making time to take care of yourself through exercise, sleep, nutrition and organization will make the season more manageable.  

Eat right. Buy healthy snacks. Plan for social parties and activities that involve food.  Try to eat some healthy and filing foods before you go to a party. Attending an event hungry sets you up failure.

Exercise during the morning of the holiday to help burn off some of those extra treats you’ll eat later in the day.  Thanksgiving Day is a perfect example of getting some exercise early in the day before your feast.

Don’t fall into the trap of “I’ll start after the new year.”  This is really saying you’ll find an excuse no matter what time of the year. There will always be birthdays and special events — think about Super Bowl parties and Valentine’s Day.

Keep in mind that celebrations are really about family and friends, not food.

Lifestyle changes in nutrition and exercise, even during the busy holiday season, provide the best long-lasting results. It’s about making healthy, productive changes that work for you long term. It’s about your health forever.

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Posted by Paula Reece
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Fall a fine time for fun and fitness

October 24, 2012
As the seasons change, it’s no longer summer, but not yet winter. Fall can be a time when exercise routines can waiver. It becomes too cold to continue with many of the summer activities you enjoy. You might even get a little blue realizing summer has come to an end and your favorite activities are over for awhile. But fall brings with it many other opportunities.

Here are a few tips to keep you active and ready to embrace this beautiful season:

Take it outside: Fall is the perfect time to enjoy the beautiful Grand Valley. With so many options to choose from — like mountain biking and hiking — there’s no reason not to get out and enjoy the scenery of vibrant colors.

Go exploring. Hike a new trail or visit a park. Raking leaves or doing some fall outdoor yard work is a great way to get the heart pumping, Spending time out in nature and the fresh air does wonders for your mind as well as your body.

Layer your fall clothing: Learning proper fundamentals of layering for fall and winter activities can mean the difference between comfort and misery. It’s important to layer while exercising in chilly weather. You might feel cold at first. Then, as your body warms up, you might feel overdressed.

Follow the three-layer rule. The first layer next to your skin should be made of a moisture-wicking fabric, often called DriFit. This fabric wicks moisture away from Quick read more or view full article your skin so you don’t feel wet and cold.  The second layer should be a warmth layer and the third layer a protective layer, such as a windbreaker or something water resistant depending on the weather. Don’t forget your sunglasses.

Don’t be blue: Many of us get the winter blues as the weather gets colder and the days get shorter.  It might be tempting when waking up in the dark to hit the snooze button on the alarm, but don’t. With less sunlight, you might want to avoid the blues with increased Vitamin D.  Eat foods rich in this vitamin, such as fish, egg yolks and mushrooms.

Remember that exercise releases endorphins that enhance a good mood and feelings of happiness.

Watch the treats: By some estimates, the average American gains between 5 and 9 pounds during the holiday season that begins at Halloween and continues through New Year’s Day.

Halloween is a time when you stockpile bags of candy from the store for the one evening when a few trick-or-treaters could come to your door.  The day after, leftover candy offers the kids a sugar source that will surely fuel unhealthy eating habits into the holidays.

Then, people just put off losing weight until their new year’s resolutions. Remember that Halloween is just one day.

Plan ahead for the holidays: Take out a calendar early. Like now. Mark off time for exercise each day. Schedule a little exercise between things on busy days — 10 minutes is better than nothing.

Keep your goals in mind throughout the holiday season. The time you allow for yourself through exercise, sleep, nutrition and organization will make the busy season more manageable.

Remember to eat right and buy healthy snacks.  Don’t fall into the trap of “I’ll start after the new year.”  This is really saying you’ll find an excuse no matter what time of the year. There’ll always be birthdays, parties and special events.

Enjoy the change of seasons. Fall is a perfect time to keep fitness routines on track. Instead of using the cooler weather as an excuse not to exercise, try using it as an excuse to exercise. Read Less

Maximize Your Metabolism

November 22, 2011
Why is it that some people seem to stay thin no matter what they eat?  They are the ones you see eating a huge hamburger and fries, as you sit across the restaurant putting your chicken breast and veggies in your phone calorie counter and wondering why you can’t lose those extra ten pounds.  Your metabolism may be the reason.

Metabolism, put in simple terms, is how your body converts the food you eat into fuel and how efficiently your body uses that fuel.   The rate that your body burns that fuel (or calories) is directly related to losing or gaining weight.   Ah-ha, so we can blame our metabolism for those extra ten pounds!

It is true that there are certain factors that control your metabolism that you can’t change.   One of them is your age.  Your metabolism rate naturally begins to slow down after age 40; a little reminder from your body that you are no longer a youngster and need to start caring for your body in a few different ways.  Another factor is your gender.  Men generally burn more calories at rest than women. Being a woman, this seems slightly unfair. There are other factors including heredity or medical problems that can influence the rate that your body burns calories.  Although we may be unable to change some things, the good news is that there are things we can do improve our metabolism rate.

Among the best ways to boost your metabolism is exercise!  Quick read more or view full article It is important to combine both cardiovascular exercise and strength training to your regimen.  Cardiovascular exercise, such as running or biking, can burn many calories.  While strength training may not burn as many calories during your workout as cardiovascular exercise, your body continues to burn calories long after your work-out is over.  This is important to know because muscle burns more calories than fat – a lot more!  According to Crossroads Fitness Personal Trainer, Jess Cassinari, “Every pound of muscle in our bodies can burn over 30 calories a day, while each pound of fat burns only 2-3 calories a day.” If you include strength training into your workouts regularly, your muscles will work hard for you all day long.

Nutrition is another way to improve your metabolism.  You will be happy to know that “crash” dieting is NOT the answer.  Actually, when you deprive your body of food, your metabolism slows down causing the reverse effect.  When you do eat, your body will hang on to those calories, as your body is functioning as if it’s starving.  Most of us have attempted a diet that was unsuccessful. Chances are it didn’t work because our bodies were not supplied with enough nutrients to function normally. Then when we did eat (or cheat, as we probably referred to it as) we probably overindulged. Don’t cut yourself short on the fuel that keeps you moving.  Your best bet is to eat more often.  Eating small, nutritious meals more frequently will help keep your metabolism awake.  

Here are some additional nutrition tips that can help increase the rate of your body’s metabolism.  Add a little more protein to your diet.  Your body uses more calories to digest protein than it does digesting carbohydrates.   Some sources of protein rich foods include turkey, fish, nuts, beans and eggs.   Another tip is to spice up your dishes with red pepper flakes.  The chemical compound in spicy food can increase your metabolism temporarily.   Don’t forget to include water in your daily routine.  Your body needs to be hydrated to properly use the calories you consume. 

There are many factors that influence the rate in which your body burns calories such as gender, age, and genetics. It is easy to blame those extra pounds on factors you can’t change, however this doesn’t mean you have to settle for a slow metabolism.  Knowing that by changing your eating habits, exercising and building muscles, you can speed up the rate that your body burns calories.  The benefits will show not only on how you feel, but on the scale as well.
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