13 COMMON WEIGHT LOSS MISTAKES

Many of us have either tried to lose weight or have at least wanted to lose weight and it’s easy to be misinformed or to waste time by relying on the wrong solutions. Here are some of the most common weight loss mistakes.

1. RELYING ON THE SCALE

One of the most common weight loss mistakes majority of us are guilty of is relying on the scale to detect our progress. Although it can be a helpful tool, especially for those looking to lose an excess amount of weight, it can actually hinder weight loss. First off, this is because most of us don’t understand that there is a difference between weight loss and fat loss. We use the phrase, “weight loss” to describe wanting to lose fat.

Second, the scale doesn’t know the difference between muscle and fat, so even though you might be exercising and eating clean, the number might not go down because while you’re losing fat, you may also be gaining muscle in the process. Be mindful of this the next time you look down at that pesky number, because it typically does more harm than good and isn’t always accurate like you think. Learn more about the scale here.

2. DOING TOO MUCH CARDIO AND NOT ENOUGH WEIGHTLIFTING

One common myth we are told is to run for weight loss. Too much cardio can actually do the opposite and cause weight gain because your body will eventually burn muscle instead of fat. According to Health Magazine, too much cardio can cause the body to store energy as fat and increase your appetite, making you more inclined to overeat.  A pound of muscle burns three times more calories than a pound of fat, so that’s why it’s advised to strength train if you’re looking to lose fat.

3. EATING TOO MANY HEALTHY FOODS

Yes, you can gain weight from healthy food. This is because eating too much of anything is not good. Fat loss takes place with a calorie deficit when you burn more calories than you consume, which is why it’s imperative to practice portion control if you’re trying to achieve weight loss.

4. EATING LESS BUT NOT HEALTHIER

Eating too little and too much both hinder weight loss, especially if your diet is small amounts of processed junk food. Not only is it not enough food to satisfy hunger cues, but junk food lacks nutrients, which leads to deprivation, overeating and ultimately, weight gain. In order to reach your weight loss goals, you need to eat more healthy foods like vegetables, lean meats and whole grains and indulge in moderation.

5. BEING IMPATIENT

Weight loss takes time, and this isn’t just because it feels like forever to see results, it’s actually scientific. It takes 12 weeks of consistency to see measurable changes in your body and often times, most people fail to lose weight because they aren’t patient.

So, the next time you see something online or on television that promises to help you lose weight fast, it’s safe to say that you won’t keep the weight off. Keep in mind that even though it might take some time to lose weight, the good news is that it also takes time to pack on the pounds. One good meal won’t make you fit or thin just like how one bad meal won’t make you fat.

6. EATING “DIET” FOOD

We are convinced that something is better for us or will help us lose weight if the label says “diet” or “low-fat.”  Take something that is fat-free for instance.The product has been stripped of fat but replaced with added sugars to make it taste better. According to Healthline, low-fat or fat-free foods contain higher amounts of sugar, which increase hunger signals and cause you to actually consume more calories.

Rather than focusing on labels, maintain a balanced diet of nutrient-rich foods like fresh vegetables, protein and whole grains. You’ll have a lot better luck at losing weight this way than relying on diet foods that contain hidden ingredients and added sugars.

7. RELYING ON OUTLETS OTHER THAN DIET AND EXERCISE

Like it or not, there is no “magic pill” for weight loss–at least not for long-term results. There are “fat burners” and crash diets out there that might help you shed a few pounds initially, but the cold truth is simple–you have to eat right and work out to lose weight, and to keep it off, stay away from dieting. It’s not a realistic weight loss approach because people typically don’t maintain it.

8. REWARDING YOUR WORKOUTS WITH FOOD

It’s perfectly fine to treat yourself sometimes, but it’s also easy to get carried away and set yourself back if you aren’t mindful. According to Reader’s Digest, a study found that people claimed to have burned more calories than they actually did during a workout and then consumed more food than usual as a reward for exercising. Having that mentality can sabotage your weight loss goals because you can’t out-train a poor diet, so instead, eat clean 80 percent of the time and reward yourself 20 percent.

9. CUTTING OUT TREATS

On the contrary, it’s also a common mistake and habit to feel like we have to deprive ourselves of our favorite guilty pleasures. Once this happens, we immediately crave them more because it’s not realistic or sustainable to quit something we love cold turkey. Just like with rewarding yourself, practice everything in moderation instead of restricting yourself to the extreme.

10. DRINKING YOUR CALORIES

This includes alcoholic beverages and “healthy” smoothies that many dieters drink as meal replacements. It’s easy to ignore liquid calories or not count them, but these calories definitely matter and can easily skyrocket your daily intake. “Healthy” smoothies or shakes often contain hidden ingredients and added sugars that spike your hunger cues, leaving you hungrier and reaching for more food, according to Reader’s Digest.

11. COPYING SOMEONE ELSE’S DIET AND EXERCISE PLAN

Although clean eating and consistent exercise is better than a poor diet and no exercise, what works for someone else might not work for you. Everyone has different lifestyles, body types and habits, and some even have medical conditions that hinder weight loss. If you’re unsure about what works for you, get with a personal trainer that will push you harder during workouts and help your form custom meal plans.

12. DINING OUT TOO OFTEN

Even if you order on the lighter menu or you order something that’s supposed to be “healthy,” there’s definitely a good chance it’s actually not good for you. Sure, some restaurant items are worse than others and it’s important to be mindful when you go out, but many dishes have hidden ingredients and are packed with excess sugar and fat. Limit dining out to once a week and cook healthy meals for the remaining days.

13. LETTING GO ON THE WEEKENDS

You eat clean and exercise Monday through Thursday but once the weekend rolls around you dive head first into greasy food, alcohol and skip the gym. This probably sounds familiar to you since it’s a very common weight loss mistake and is typically the main culprit for stubborn fat that sticks around. By over-indulging on the weekends, you’re taking two steps forward and one step back. Avoid this by limiting alcohol intake and being mindful when you dine out. Moderation is key to realistic and healthy weight loss.   

HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR GYM MEMBERSHIP

A gym membership is one of the best purchases you can make because investing in your health is one of the best things you can do for yourself, but you also might not always be aware of everything your club offers. Here’s how you can get the most out of your gym membership.

UNDERSTAND DIFFERENT MEMBERSHIPS

Different memberships offer different things. That’s why it’s important to understand what your membership entails. Basic packages typically offer access to general gym equipment but exclude perks like free group classes. It’s important to keep in mind that you may not be one for group classes and a basic workout might all you need to reach your fitness goals.

This same concept
applies to clubs with multiple locations for example. Even though gyms will
charge more for access to multiple locations, you might need access to all
locations. Matching your needs with the type of membership you’re paying for
will help you get the most out of it, whether that means more perks or not.

ASK HOW TO USE EQUIPMENT

Let’s face it, most gym equipment looks strange and difficult to use, and since you’re paying for it, you better get your money’s worth and know how to use the machines. If you don’t know, ask a staff member or a trainer. They are there to be your guide.

RESEARCH DIFFERENT EXERCISES

For one, it’s important to mix up your workout regimen with various exercises, and for two, this applies especially when your club is packed with other members and you have to take turns using equipment. You aren’t getting the most out of your membership if you just stand around while you wait. If your favorite machine is taken, grab a mat, some free weights and sneak in some space to do something else until the machine is free. You already made it to the gym, so there’s no excuse to not fulfill a workout, even if it’s a quick one.

MAINTAIN A HEALTHY DIET

This might not seem like it applies to your gym membership, but actually the two go hand and hand. Majority of the time a poor diet is exactly why members aren’t seeing the results they want. The bottom line with this is that you can’t out train a bad diet. Many members exercise constantly and don’t eat right, then don’t see results, which often leads to discouragement and membership cancellations. Do yourself and your membership justice by eating right and letting all of those sweat sessions pay off.

PARTICIPATE IN GROUP CLASSES

Some memberships include group classes as part of the package, and if this is the case for you, take advantage of as many classes as you can because sometimes nothing is more motivating than surrounding yourself in a room full of people breaking a sweat and if you’re paying extra, then it would be silly not to.

FIND A PERSONAL TRAINER

Depending on your fitness needs and goals, personal training might be beneficial to you and some premium memberships include it. Even if it’s not included in your membership, personal training is still an add on that can be purchased directly in My Member Account Mobile App. By doing this, you’re getting more out of your club.

STAY DIGITALLY CONNECTED

This includes staying connected on both your club’s social media platforms as well as My Member Account Mobile App. Follow your gym’s social media pages for inspiration, to stay updated about what’s happening in your gym and most importantly, to include yourself in the community.

By downloading My Member Account Mobile App, you will find featured classes and club promotions along with being able to view your own class and session schedules. The more you know and the more efficient you are, the more you’ll get out of your membership because you’ll have more time to focus on your fitness goals.

THE DOS AND DON’TS OF GYM ETIQUETTE

The gym is a place of community, which means all members should feel welcomed and comfortable. Most gyms and fitness clubs typically have specific rules, however there are unspoken guidelines members should be aware of. Here are some dos and don’ts of gym etiquette.

DO: PUT WEIGHTS BACK

Once you’re finished using free weights, always remember to put them back for safety and courtesy purposes. It’s not only dangerous to have heavy weights lying around but leaving them out implies that they are still in use. Be courteous and put weights back so other members can use the equipment. This applies especially during busy hours when members might have to take turns and wait for equipment.

DON’T: BLOCK SOMEONE’S VIEW OF THE MIRROR

Mirrors are definitely a hot spot in most gyms and can quickly become overcrowded, so although it might be difficult not to accidently block someone’s view during peak hours, try to avoid doing this at all. If this section of your gym is too crowded, exercise somewhere else and then come back to the mirror when space frees up.

DO: WIPE DOWN EQUIPMENT

How many of us enjoy working out in someone else’s sweat? No one, and gyms are not shy of germs. Although it’s not technically required and not a member’s responsibility to keep their gym clean, most gyms and fitness clubs have stations with cleaner and paper towels because it’s common courtesy to clean equipment. Remember to wipe down anything you touch. This includes treadmills, ellipticals, machine weights, free weights, even mats and foam rollers. Once you learn more about gyms and germs, you won’t think twice about wiping stuff down.

DON’T: SPEND HOURS ON ONE MACHINE

Unless you hit the gym when its dead, don’t spend hours on one machine. This is especially pertinent during peak hours when people might have to wait for machines. A good rule of thumb for cardio equipment is to spend no more than 30 minutes on these machines. When it comes to machine weights, don’t just sit and hang out on them. Do your reps, take small rests and then move onto the next thing.

This same concept applies to free weights as well. As we’ve reiterated before, use the weights you need and then put them back so someone else can use them. Spending hours on one machine also means that you aren’t exercising multiple muscle groups, which isn’t an effective workout anyway.

DON’T: MAKE WEIRD NOISES

There’s always one person at the gym who grunts during every rep. Don’t be that guy. It’s unnecessary and disrupts other people’s workouts. If you feel the need to scream, the weight is probably too heavy, and you might need to take it down a notch.

DO: HAVE GOOD HYGIENE

The gym is a place where most of us break a sweat and even though it doesn’t have to be the best-smelling place, nothing disrupts a workout like dreaded body odor. Do yourself and everyone else a favor by keeping up with good hygiene.

DON’T: SHOW OFF

Although you might be proud of your six pack and that you can bench press mass amounts of weight, other gym-goers don’t need or care to know. Every person at the gym is there to better themselves, no matter their size or how fast they can run. There’s a big difference between celebrating victories and showing off. Be proud of your own accomplishments, remember to do your own thing and also build up those around you.

DO: RESPECT OTHERS’ SPACE

This applies to really anywhere in your gym, but especially in hot spots like where there are mirrors, free weights, mats and stretching zones. It seems like common sense to mind your own space, but it can be difficult when the gym is crowded, so do as best as you can.

DON’T: DROP DUMBBELLS

Not only is this dangerous and can seriously hurt you or someone else, but it’s also disrespectful to your club’s equipment and is disruptive to other members. Just like with grunting and screaming at the gym, if you find yourself needing to drop dumbbells, the weight is too heavy. Drop the weight, not the dumbbells.  

DON’T: LEAVE A GROUP CLASS EARLY

Unless you have a pressing emergency or legitimate reason to leave a group class early, it’s typically advised not to. Leaving a class early not only throws off other members in the class, but it’s inconsiderate to the instructor. Plus, if you paid for the class, it’d be a waste to not get your money’s worth.

DON’T: USE THE GYM AS YOUR PERSONAL PHOTO STUDIO

We are all familiar with the classic gym selfie, and although there’s nothing wrong with posting your workouts and fitness victories, the gym is not your personal photo studio. There’s nothing worse than someone hogging the mirror to snap selfies as other members are actually trying to use it during their workout. Take one, be done and move along with your workout.

SIGNS YOU’RE OVERDOING IT AT THE GYM

The gym may be a place for self-improvement, however, it is possible for it to negatively impact your fitness journey if you don’t find the right balance. Whether you’re a gym junkie or just signed up with a gym, anyone can work their body too much and hurt themselves if they aren’t careful. Here are some general warning signs to watch out for.

LINGERING SORENESS AND JOINT PAIN

Exercise and muscle soreness go hand and hand, and if you’re new to working out, it’s normal to be sore for longer, however, if the soreness prolongs for three days or more, your body is telling you to take a chill pill, because it’s likely experiencing more than DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) and could be a joint-related injury, according to Shape Magazine. Take at least one or two rest days to let your body recover, especially if you’re just starting out in the gym. New gym-goers are more prone to joint injuries because they typically don’t have proper form. Remember not to rush during a workout, as this can cause permanent muscle or joint damage and focus on quality, not quantity while weightlifting. Learn more about muscle soreness here.

YOU’RE GETTING SICK

This includes both getting the common cold and feeling nauseous during a workout. If you’re someone who exercises regularly and you’re experiencing common cold symptoms like a sore throat and runny nose, it’s time to pump the breaks at the gym. If during a workout you begin to feel light headed, dizzy and nauseous, this is typically an indicator that you’re running on an empty stomach, you ate too much right before a workout, you’re dehydrated or you’re simply pushing yourself too hard. Drink plenty of water during your workout and make sure to focus on your breathing. When it comes to food, it’s best to eat a small amount 30 minutes to an hour before a workout to ensure you have substance to fuel your body, but not too much that it makes you sick to your stomach.

POOR PERFORMANCE

Whether you’re in pain because you pulled a muscle, you’re low on energy or you feel weak lifting weights, you should consider parting ways with the gym for a little bit. Many people have the misconception that they need to put in maximum effort to see results, but it’s not always the smartest choice to push your limits because sometimes it’s not physically possible. Not only will your workouts suffer, but your results will too, according to Shape.

BOREDOM AND LACK OF MOTIVATION

This may not seem like an outcome of overdoing it at the gym, but if you’re constantly doing the same workout, you might want to either take a break or consider mixing up your routine because results will begin to plateau or move backwards. Although it’s normal for anyone not to be in the mood to hit the gym, you should never dread going, especially if you’re a regular. According to Shape, you might begin your workout unmotivated, but endorphins should kick in as you start to sweat. If after a little while this is not the case, that’s actually a hint to take a break.

CHANGE IN SLEEPING PATTERNS

Although exercise is supposed to help you sleep better, overdoing it at the gym can actually counteract your sleeping patterns. Men’s Journal says that pushing your body too much can cause insomnia or oversleeping. If you’re abnormally tired at the beginning of a workout, this is also an indicator that you should rest.

HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE AND HIGH RESTING HEART RATE

You may not even know your resting heart rate or take your blood pressure, but both can be helpful in determining whether you need to chill out at the gym. According to 12 Minute Athlete, if you’re an avid exerciser and have high blood pressure but have no other risk factors for it, it’s most likely because you’re working out too much. People who are in shape have resting heart rates of 50 or 60 bpm and the average person’s resting heart rate is 72 bpm. If your heart rate is significantly higher than that and you’re in good shape, it’s time to rest.

HOW TO TELL IF YOU’RE IN SHAPE OR NOT

It may not be rocket science, but it’s not always easy to detect whether you’re in shape or not. This is because there is not one definition of being “in shape,” according to Business Insider. It can be everything from having low body fat to having muscular strength. You could strength train often, but your cardiovascular health might not be up to par. This same concept applies in a situation when someone might appear skinny, but they have a higher amount of body fat and very little muscle. Although they appear thin, they aren’t necessarily “in shape.” If you exercise regularly, it’s a safe bet that you’re in shape, but here are specific ways to tell and see which areas you could improve in.

LOW HEART RATE

According to Insider, people who are in good physical shape have lower heart rates at 60-100 beats per minute. Their hearts pump harder with stronger beats. A number higher than that given range might indicate heart disease or high blood pressure.

QUICK RECOVERY TIME

If you can bounce back quickly after a tough workout, that usually is good indicator that you’re in shape. Take your pulse right after you’ve finished exercising, testing every minute after that to detect how fast it goes down. If it drops back to normal within about five minutes after your workout, then you are in good shape.

YOU CAN EASILY WALK UP A FLIGHT OF STAIRS

This is a simple cardio test. If you’re able to walk up a flight of stairs without feeling winded, you’re in good shape. Keep in mind that factors like higher elevation and asthma can be deceiving. If you’re somewhere with high elevation that you’re not acclimated to, you might be gasping for air more frequently, but it doesn’t mean you’re out of shape.

YOU CAN EASILY RUN TWO MILES OR A 10-MINUTE MILE

Running a mile in 10 minutes or less and being able to run two miles without your heart pumping out of your chest are effective ways to test your cardiovascular health. If you’re slacking in this area, try jogging at a slow and consistent pace, gradually increasing your speed, or fast walk on a treadmill for 1-minute increments, followed by 30-second sprints to keep your heart rate up.

YOU CAN RISE FROM THE GROUND WITHOUT ASSISTANCE

This might be one of the most ignored fitness tests but is extremely helpful in determining whether or not you’re physically fit. According to Health and Fitness Cheat Sheet, sitting down then getting up without using your arms, knees or other body parts for assistance tests your muscular strength, flexibility and balance. If this is difficult for you, practice balancing exercises like single-leg deadlifts, walking lunges and planking while lifting one leg or arm. The more you practice this, the better your overall coordination will be.

YOU CAN DO 10 OR MORE FULL PUSH-UPS

There’s a reason many people dread push-ups–they’re not easy and certainly take practice to master, however, they’re an effective way to test your fitness levels because they use full body weight. If you can do 10 or more full push-ups, you’re on the right track.

YOU CAN EASILY HOLD A 60-SECOND PLANK

Just like with push-ups, planks use your full bodyweight, which is why they are great indicators of being physically fit. If you are able to hold a plank for 60 seconds or more without giving up, this is a sign that you have a strong core and lower back.

YOU CAN DO A FULL PULL-UP

Pull-ups are arguably one of the hardest exercises to perform, and majority of people cannot do a full one, so if you’re in that small pool of people who are able to, your upper body strength is not only top notch, but your overall fitness levels are too.

YOU CAN EASILY SWITCH THINGS UP

There’s something to be said about being able to do a variety of workouts. The next time you hit the gym, pay attention to how many different types of exercises you can do. Do you lift weights, do push-ups then sprint on a treadmill? Can you do a HIIT workout one day and get through a spin class another day? If your answer is yes, you’re in excellent shape. This is because being able to do many different types of exercises tests all areas of your fitness levels, not just one.

BOTTOM LINE

When it comes to being “in shape,” it’s important to focus on your goals and health rather than looking and being the skinniest. Goals matter because even if you can easily run two miles doesn’t mean you need to be in shape to run an entire marathon. If you focus on how you feel and what works best for you in your daily life, your version of being “in shape” will come with the package deal.

THE TRUTH ABOUT THE SCALE

We’ve all been there and done that–looked down at that pesky number and felt ashamed about what we saw, then immediately started thinking about how we were going to lower the number, eventually spiraling into vicious cycles of crash diets, different weight loss plans and frustration to see the number either stay the same or increase. As difficult as it might be to steer away from it, the scale is not a true reflection of your weight loss journey or fitness level. Here’s why.

IT CAN HINDER YOUR PROGRESS

Let’s face it–the scale does a lot more harm than good for many of us. This is because we don’t truly understand how weight loss works and we rely on a number to tell us that we are doing better or worse. The scale unfortunately goes hand and hand with yo-yo dieting, short-term weight loss and the people who have the misconception that results come quick. These same people often will turn to the scale, see a lower number, but will feel defeated shortly after when that number goes back up, causing their progress to suffer and the whole process to take way longer than it should.

IT CAN BE MISLEADING 

Weight fluctuates too much

Although it’s usually safe to say that the number you see on the scale is fairly accurate, it’s not your true weight. So many factors fluctuate your actual weight like water intake, bloating, hormones and sodium levels, according to Fight to Fitness. People who aren’t losing weight “correctly” will often find the number on the scale decrease from loss of water weight, but their clothes fit the same and they haven’t lost inches.

Fat loss is different than weight loss

This is possibly the biggest weight loss misconception. When people say they want to lose weight, they typically mean they want to slim down and trim fat but make the mistake of relying on the scale to track their progress. Someone may lose inches and slim down but the number on the scale either increases or stays the same. This is because fat loss and muscle gain are taking place at the same time. Muscle mass is also denser and leaner than fat. This explains why someone might see an increase on the scale, but their pants are looser. According to Very Well Fit, the scale can’t tell the difference between fat and muscle, which is why stepping on one can be confusing and deceiving.

Weight looks different on everyone

A tall person will carry weight a lot differently than someone who is short. Take for instance someone who appears thin. This person may be satisfied when they look at the scale but could be out of shape and have unhealthy levels of body fat, while another person with better endurance weighs exactly the same is made up mostly of muscle.

THERE ARE BETTER WAYS TO MEASURE YOUR PROGRESS

Although the scale can be helpful, especially for people who are looking to lose a lot of weight, the scale doesn’t tell the whole story. Here are other ways to measure fitness progress:

How your clothes fit:

The way your clothes fit will tell you a lot more than a scale will. Whether that means pants feel looser or you can finally button old jeans again, how your clothes fit is a direct result of losing inches and fat, and once again, this is because muscle is leaner than fat. Plus, this method focuses on how you feel rather than placing a number on your progress. Although some might see both a drop in the scale and looser jeans, many people would surprisingly see no difference in their weight, but they can fit into smaller sizes.

Better endurance and fitness levels:

According to Health Magazine, the scale will not tell you how fit you are. How much weight you can lift and how fast you can run matters. If you can run a mile faster now than you could four months ago or you can lift 10 pounds heavier than you could a few weeks ago, you’re in better shape. Endurance and strength training are key to a healthy fitness journey that the scale doesn’t measure.

If you want to lose weight, focus more on non-scale victories like improving your endurance. Instead of making it a goal to lose 20 pounds, make it a goal to be able to do a full push-up or pull-up. The weight loss part will naturally come in time as your endurance improves and you won’t beat yourself up in the process.

How you feel:

Do you have more energy? Do you feel more confident? Has your perspective on living a healthy lifestyle changed in a positive way? All of these components are key to healthy weight loss and cannot be measured on a scale. The issue with weight loss is that we focus so much on the way we look rather than how we actually feel inside. Not only is that an unhealthy approach that typically leads to confidence issues, crash diets and a bad relationship with the scale, but effective and long-term weight loss actually works in reverse of the status-quo. Since the way we see ourselves is very mental, healthy weight loss begins in the mind. Practice altering your mindset by taking baby steps, making subtle changes to unhealthy habits and focusing less on numbers. The better you feel, the more results you will see, and the healthier you will be overall.

BOTTOM LINE

The scale should be used as a tool to know basic numbers about yourself, but it’s not always correct. If you’re someone who feels more at ease when you know your weight, avoid obsessing over it and letting it dictate the way you see yourself. If you’re someone who prefers not to know, that’s perfectly okay too. Besides, at the end of the day, it is just a number.

5 WAYS TO OVERCOME GYM FRIGHT

Whether you’ve just joined a gym or you’re a major athlete, at some point, it is very daunting. Most of the equipment looks completely foreign, you don’t know how to use it, and when you decide to give it a try, you’re afraid of being judged by everyone else who seems to know what they’re doing. Or maybe you’re running on a treadmill next to that super muscular person when all of a sudden, you become self-conscious about how much you’re sweating, panting and how your body is bouncing around. Sometimes this fear even prevents you from stepping foot in your gym. If this sounds familiar to you, then here are some ways to help you conquer your gym fright.

1. STUDY THE GYM FIRST

People tour their gyms so they can familiarize themselves with a new environment to prevent being clueless come time for their first workout. During your tour, grab your mental pen and paper and scope out the facility. Study where certain machines are, where the locker rooms are, and any other areas that spark your interest. Ask about classes, personal training, how to use certain equipment, or simply take mental notes of how people are using complex machines. The more informed you are prior to your first workout in the facility, the less intimidating the experience will be.

2. REALIZE THAT YOU’RE NOT ALONE

You are not the only person in the facility who feels self-conscious or has felt this way. No one likes not knowing what to do, but chances are, a lot of other people feel the same way you do. Once you realize that, you’ll be more comfortable, and lifting your 10-pound weights compared to the person lifting 50 pounds won’t be a big deal anymore.

3. WORK OUT WITH A BUDDY

Working out with someone is already motivating, but it’s even more effective for people who have gym fright. If you continuously feel discouraged, exercise with a buddy for a better support system. Not only will you feel more at ease being there with someone you know who has similar fitness goals, but you will be more willing to try new machines that you probably wouldn’t have tried if you went alone. To top it off, having someone by your side at first is excellent leeway into eventually being comfortable going to the gym on your own. This will ultimately lead to more confidence, better workouts and quality usage of your membership. If your workout buddy doesn’t have the same membership as you, ask your club about guest passes.

4. HAVE A WORKOUT PLAN

On top of initial intimidation, there is nothing worse than walking into a gym with no agenda, especially on a busy day when you have to wait for your turn to use a machine and other people have to wait on you. Before stepping foot in your gym, write out a workout plan on your phone so that you have it with you in case you forget. Decide what days of the week you are going to hit the gym and organize your routine based on whatever you want to work on each day. On Monday, you might choose to do a spin class while Tuesday you choose to do arms and core strengthening. Have other machine-less activities in mind like push-ups and planks that you can do in case you have to wait for a machine to open up, that way you don’t feel awkward standing around wasting your time. The more efficient you are, the faster you will acclimate to the gym and the other members in it.

5. FORGET ABOUT YOUR SURROUNDINGS 

At first this is easier said than done, especially because you feel like everyone is staring at you, but in reality, everyone is so focused on themselves to even care about how much weight you’re lifting or what you look like while doing a squat. It doesn’t matter if you can barely do a push-up while the person next to you is lifting 100 pounds because you’re both at the gym to better yourselves. By keeping that in mind, you’ll naturally find yourself drifting away from what other people are doing and be more in tune with your own to-do list, which is where your focus should be.

HOW TO EAT HEALTHY ON A BUDGET

Healthy food and clean eating are just as important as hitting the gym on a regular basis and are the key ingredients to seeing results from your sweat sessions. The trickiest part that many people struggle with is balance. They find it challenging to maintain an overall healthy diet and a gym membership while still having extra spending money to enjoy life–and let’s face it, if you’re health-conscious in the first place, you’re not going to give up those things, so what should you do if you’re tight on money?

Many people have the misconception that eating healthy is expensive because of the misread labels and overpriced organic options. Although grocery bills can stack up, the bills at your favorite restaurants can too when you’re forking over $50 or more a meal with an average plate costing around $13. In a typical restaurant scenario, both your wallet and waistline take the hits, but if you strategize correctly and shop smart, your grocery bill will be way kinder to you both financially and physically. Besides, if you’re able to dine out that much anyway, there really is no excuse to start putting your money into the kitchen. Here are some tips to help you eat healthy while on a budget.

HAVE A PLAN AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF LEFTOVERS 

Without structure, we turn to the quickest and easiest options because we don’t already have all of the ingredients right in front of us to cook something. In the long run, we actually end up spending more money and consuming more calories because we turn to takeout and fast food. To avoid this, plan out all of your meals for the week, including the days when you think you’re more likely to dine out or meet friends for happy hour. While you’re doing this, research healthy recipes on social media sites like Pinterest and different food apps.

Many healthy recipes will typically feed more than two people, so if you’re only cooking for one or two, you have a pretty high chance of scoring leftovers for future meals in the week. Once you find realistic and simple healthy recipes, write out your meals on a calendar. Sometimes people often find that their planned meals get pushed back because they have too many leftovers from a previous dish. This is normal and actually a good thing. Take advantage of all the leftovers you can and freeze whatever you are able to, so you can cook something new a different night and go back to the leftovers on a night that you may not feel like cooking. This way, you don’t get bored of the same dish, nothing goes to waste, and you get your money’s worth.

KNOW THE BASICS AND BUY THE BASICS

When we say the basics, we are talking about foods that are inexpensive, versatile and are items you want to have on hand to cook with. This includes things like whole grain bread, eggs, olive oil, spices and skim milk. You also don’t need a gourmet spice cabinet to cook delicious and healthy meals and most basic spices like salt, pepper and garlic powder are very inexpensive. Olive oil and some other specialty spices might seem a bit pricey at first, but your kitchen needs items like these for cooking. Plus, they last forever, so you’ll save money in the long run.

If you’re cooking for one or two people, it might seem difficult to use bread and milk before their expiration dates. In this case, downsize to just a half gallon of milk and get creative with both items. Try to incorporate them into every other meal as you plan for the week. For example, eggs and toast are healthy and cheap breakfast choices, but can also be used for lunch or dinner as BLT sandwiches. Or ditch the bread for a day and incorporate hard boiled eggs into a homemade salad. Buying the basics allows you to hit two birds with one stone.

STOCK UP ON CANNED FOODS

Canned goods sometimes get a bad rap because they contain a lot of salt being non-perishable, but in the grand scheme, you could simply not add anymore salt to your dish, incorporate a fairly healthy side into your meal and save money. Choose canned pinto and black beans along with canned peas and corn to add variety. These could be considered basic foods that you want to have on hand, and you luckily can buy a lot for very little.

COUPONS AND SALE ITEMS ARE YOUR BEST FRIEND 

These might be the most important aspects to smart shopping, and you probably already figured that, but just trust us­–your mother wasn’t crazy for using a coupon to spend 60 cents on something instead of a dollar because it all adds up to big savings. If you don’t already, download coupon apps like Groupon and Retail Me Not, and make sure to be informed about your grocery store’s sale items. If you notice the grocery bill is getting too high, look at your items and double check if you really need something and if you can cut back on it. Chances are, it’s a “luxury” item and you could probably save a few bucks if you ditch it or find a coupon.

THE FREEZER IS COOL

Pun intended, but for those on a budget, frozen vegetables without added butter and salt are your saving grace–just avoid the section with the frozen pizza. Although fresh produce is a wonderful added perk to your refrigerator, many people have trouble using it before it goes bad, so it usually goes to waste and money goes down the drain. If you’re someone that absolutely needs fresh produce in your life, stock up on items like baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers, and only buy what you will actually use in a week and incorporate into various meals. You can not only make salads out of these and use them in an assortment of dishes, but they can also be eaten as healthy snacks. Also, buy proteins like chicken breasts, ground turkey, lean ground beef and get in the habit of freezing them to increase their shelf life, which will also make cooking more convenient for you.

LIMIT TAKEOUT AND DINING OUT 

As tough as this might seem, it actually becomes easier once you establish a healthy eating and cooking pattern. Limit your dining out to once a week or every other week, and completely restrict takeout for lunch. Pack all of your lunches for the work week, whether that’s a fresh salad with versatile vegetables that we’ve already mentioned or your leftover chicken from last night. You will save yourself a lot of money and calories this way and going to your favorite restaurant on a Saturday night will be something you look forward to after putting in all of that hard work toward your diet and workouts during the week.

SKIP THE SODA AND CANDY AISLES 

You don’t need these things–plain and simple. Your body and your bank account will thank you later. Choose water instead of soda, add lemon or lime juice for flavor and choose light snacks like popcorn and snacks that are high in protein, like almonds. The great things about these options are that they trick your brain into thinking you’re eating more. Minus all of the butter and salt, you can usually eat a ton of popcorn, reduce calorie intake, feel satisfied longer and still have plenty left over as opposed to a bag of potato chips. Although almonds and many nuts are a bit pricier, they are packed with good fats and protein allowing you to eat less, feel fuller longer, satisfy a salty or crunchy craving and you end up needing to buy less, which as you probably can guess, is easier on your budget.

BOTTOM LINE

From the get-go this might seem daunting and unrealistic, and you might find other outlets or options that work better for you, but the ultimate goal is to live a balanced lifestyle where your wallet and workouts aren’t suffering from your food choices. As hard as it is to believe at first, you can eat healthy, save money, maintain a gym membership and still enjoy your life at the same time. It all comes down to moderation, consistency and compromise. Once you find how these strategies work best in your life, it will become a pattern and turn into a natural way of life where you won’t feel the need to document all of your meals on a calendar.

Resources

https://www.choosemyplate.gov/tips-for-every-aisle

http://www.pbs.org/parents/food-and-fitness/eat-smart/healthy-foods-on-a-budget/

THE BEST TIME OF DAY TO WORK OUT

Whether you’re a major athlete or you’re just starting to adjust to a new fitness routine, we’ve all wondered this at some point. You’re probably asking if a morning workout is better for your health than exercising at night.

It’s normal to wonder these things because you want the best results for yourself, and time of day correlates with energy levels, diet, consistency and motivation. While there is no overall right answer, there is a right answer for you and your life. Let’s dive a little into the benefits and setbacks of both so you can determine which option is best for you.

FOR THE EARLY BIRDS

YOU GET IT OUT OF THE WAY 

Let’s face it–we aren’t all stoked to hop on a treadmill, let alone have the energy for it when it’s the end of a long work day, and for many people, their to-do lists are not completely checked off yet when the sun goes down. People still have dinner to cook and kids to take care of among many other things. Some people would also rather have the option of partaking in happy hour with friends or to just be able to spend time with family. If these things sound familiar to you, then it’s probably best for you to exercise in the morning, and plus it feels good knowing that your workout is done, and you don’t have to worry about it when it’s the end of the day.

GREAT FOR WEIGHT LOSS

You know the old tale that breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it sets you up for success? This is the same concept that applies to early birds who get up and get moving. Elite Daily says that your metabolism is actually faster in the morning, which helps burn more calories throughout the day.

Women who do 45-minute workouts early in the morning are more likely to eat less for breakfast and make healthier food choices throughout the day. This is because many have the mentality that they don’t want to “ruin” their good workout with a poor meal, which in the grand scheme, results in more weight loss.

MORE CONSISTENCY 

Yet another reason to get on that grind early in the morning. You have a higher chance of keeping yourself in check when you’re fresh out of bed and have the whole day ahead of you rather than waiting until the end of the day to work out when motivation likely fades for most people. Consistency is key for any fitness journey, especially weight loss, but is also where most people fall short and when progress gets stagnant. Exercising early in the morning can help with setting up your day and providing you with more structure.

MOTIVATES YOU THROUGHOUT THE DAY 

Some people would argue that working out early in the morning does the opposite because starting your day with vigorous activity can only make you more tired right? Think of an early morning workout as a cup of coffee. According to Elite Daily and Men’s Health, not only does it trigger a healthier diet, but because of the release of endorphins, most people actually end up feeling more energized throughout the day, have better concentration and are more productive.

BETTER SLEEP 

If you work out while the sun is out, then your body is more likely to power down easier come nighttime, according to Elite Daily. A study conducted at Appalachian State University also found that morning exercise lowers blood pressure, which triggers better sleep.

FOR THE NIGHT OWLS

HEALTHY WAY TO UNWIND FROM THE DAY

Exercise is known to be one of the most effective stress-relievers, especially for people who have stressful jobs or who work in an office setting and don’t get much activity during the day. Even people who are on their feet all day can still benefit from evening workouts because stress is a mental game.

It’s also very common to turn to the couch and indulge in guilty pleasures as outlets for relaxation, but for anyone, especially those trying to achieve long-term fitness goals, our guilty pleasures are what set us back and cause stress in the long run. Exercising at night may be just the thing you need to unwind, and it replaces those common routines we are used to turning to with something much healthier.

Just like how it feels good to start our day off healthy with a morning workout, it’s also good to end the day on a healthy note too. By exercising at night, you’re more likely to eat a healthier dinner post-workout rather than junk food because your body needs the nutrients.

ALSO HELPS WITH SLEEP QUALITY 

While experts might say exercising at night raises your body temperature and disrupts your sleep, that is actually a myth. According to Men’s Health and the same study conducted by Appalachian State University, evening workouts are equivalent to giving yourself a warm bath, which promotes relaxation and better sleep.

YOU COULD HAVE MORE EFFECTIVE WORKOUTS

Elite Daily and PopSugar both say that evening workouts not only give you better endurance, but you can gain more muscle if you exercise at night as opposed to the morning. In the evening, your lungs are at peak efficiency and testosterone in both men and women are at higher levels, making nighttime, a prime time for weightlifting, muscle growth and faster results.

MORE RELAXED MORNINGS

Some people just aren’t morning people, so that’s why night workouts can be their best friend. Regardless if you pack your gym bag and fill your water bottle the night before, you have more freedom to enjoy your morning as opposed to rushing to the gym at the crack of dawn. You can sleep in longer, you don’t have to worry about being somewhere at a certain time before you have to be to work, and you can take your time in the shower compared to a quick rinse at the gym.

YOU’RE MORE WARMED UP LATER IN THE DAY 

Although a morning workout after a night of restful sleep is also good for your body, Elite Daily says we also naturally have more energy between 2 and 6 p.m. because of higher testosterone levels. Our muscles are also 20 percent more flexible from daily movement, which can prevent workout injuries. Also, if you ate nutrient-rich foods all day, then you have fueled your body and will likely respond better to an intense evening workout.

BOTTOM LINE

There are benefits to both early morning and evening exercise, and what’s “better” doesn’t necessarily come down to the numbers and facts. What truly counts is always finding time to work out, whenever possible and sticking to the routine that best fits your life. When it comes down to it, a workout no matter what time of day, is better than no physical activity at all. The “best time” is on your clock.

Resources

https://www.elitedaily.com/life/theres-big-difference-working-morning-night/1035312

http://www.menshealth.co.uk/building-muscle/morning-vs-evening-workouts-which-is-better

https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Evening-Workouts-Good-You-42677139

THE TRUTH ABOUT EATING BREAKFAST

Whether you’re scrambling your eggs or scrambling to get out the door in the morning, at some point in your life, you’ve been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The truth is that your mother didn’t lie to you all of those years, but have you ever wondered why it’s the most important meal of the day? Most Americans skip breakfast and many breakfast places don’t serve the healthiest or “ideal” options that give you all the benefits. According to Livestrong, there is an average eight to 12-hour time block between dinner the night before and breakfast the next day, which is why the word itself means that it’s the meal that’s supposed to break your fast. Here are some ways how breakfast can literally make your day sunny-side up and how even the busiest people can add it to their plate.

HELPS TO MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT

When we suggest eating breakfast to maintain a healthy weight, that doesn’t mean to drench a giant stack of pancakes in a pool of maple syrup. Many of us skip it with the misconception that adding those extra calories to your daily diet will make you gain weight, when in fact, eating a balanced breakfast filled with essential nutrients will actually do the opposite.

According to ABC News, not only does breakfast boost your metabolism and help your body burn more calories throughout the day, but skipping it is actually a predictor of future weight gain and increases someone’s chances of becoming obese. A 12-year study that was presented at the Experimental Biology annual meeting in San Diego, California showed that people starting with a normal BMI who skipped breakfast ended with a larger waist circumference and saw the most overall weight gain. Simply put, this is because come lunch time, non-breakfast eaters feel deprived, which results in over-eating and poor food choices.

BOOSTS ENERGY AND CONCENTRATION 

Just like how breakfast jumpstarts your metabolism, it also can boost your energy during workouts and help you focus throughout the day. Think of breakfast like power for your brain. It keeps you alert and aids in problem-solving skills, creativity and your attention span, according to Livestrong. If you don’t charge your body with the right foods first thing, then you won’t reap these wonderful possibilities.

HELPS WITH AN OVERALL HEALTHY DIET

Starting your day with something that fuels your body sets you up for success for the remainder of the day. Not only do you need nutrients like calcium, vitamins C and D, iron and fiber, but you’re much more likely to choose wisely come time for lunch and dinner if you’ve already filled your body with a nutritious breakfast. This applies especially if you’re someone who works out in the morning. Livestrong says that ultimately, lack of breakfast equals lack of daily needed nutrients.

WHAT KINDS OF BREAKFAST FOODS SHOULD YOU ACTUALLY EAT?  WHAT IF YOU’RE ON THE GO?

For us busy folks who don’t usually have time to fill up a plate Monday through Friday, packing our breakfasts the night before is usually our saving grace. According to Healthline, coffee without all of the added cream and sugar is one of the best things you can start your day with because of the caffeine. Aside from the obvious pick-me-up, it can enhance your mood and help your metabolism. If you’re someone who absolutely needs to sweeten your coffee, try using skim milk with a little bit of real sugar. If you’re not a coffee drinker, sip on some fresh green tea with honey. Green tea contains an antioxidant known as EGCG, which helps protect the brain, heart and nervous system.

When it comes to food, many of us get in the habit of quickly grabbing a granola bar on our way out the door thinking it’s healthy but are unaware of all the added sugars. Healthline says that eggs are one of the best things you can eat for breakfast. They’re packed with good fats and protein, which help keep you fuller longer and can reduce calorie intake during lunch and dinner. Instead of rushing to cook eggs in the morning, make hard boiled eggs the night before and take one with you in the morning.

For cereal lovers, start your day with good carbs like a half cup of plain instant oatmeal. Sweeten it up by squeezing some raw honey on there, add a dash of cinnamon, and pack it in your gym or work bag. For extra sugar and antioxidants, add some fresh fruit like blueberries or strawberries. For more good fats, add raw walnuts or almonds. According to Healthline, nuts are a great addition to breakfast because they are filling and help prevent weight gain. If you’re not someone who likes any of these options, grab a banana and a spoonful of peanut butter for potassium and a quick protein fix.

Resources

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-best-foods-to-eat-in-morning#section8

http://www.health.com/heart-disease/health-benefits-of-spicy-food

https://abcnews.go.com/Health/eat-breakfast-prevent-future-weight-gain-decrease-chances/story?id=54706393

https://www.livestrong.com/article/404122-the-importance-of-eating-a-healthy-breakfast/