DIGITAL WELLNESS: IS IT WELL FOR US?

We live in a world surrounded by screens while we spend our mornings hashtagging our breakfasts on social media and taking selfies of our gains at the gym. We’re adapting to behaviors that have become social norms, where receiving more “likes” on platforms like Facebook and Instagram are now personal achievements that we feel instant gratification from.

Some might argue that our online lives could be destructive to real life, introducing possible negative effects on body image and self-esteem, however, digital wellness is opening doors for both owners and members, bringing people together with common goals through a simple hashtag, offering members more fitness knowledge and generating opportunities for more club revenue.

HEALTHY FOR MEMBERS, HEALTHY FOR BUSINESS

Fitness is just as mental as it is physical and taking advantage of digital wellness is a quick and effective way to keep members motivated and maintain healthy retention. While members stay busy running on treadmills and posting their yoga photos to Instagram, owners can keep a library of digital blogs and articles that focus on different workouts, healthy recipes and wellness tips for members to reference. Owners can offer yoga classes and other events that are geared toward stress relief and wellness, providing members with more value and generating more revenue at the same time.

MORE THAN JUST APPEARANCE

We have the preconceived notion to exercise strictly for weight loss, so we look thinner, but then we forget about the positive impact fitness has on overall health and wellness. Even though weight loss is a common goal among millions of people and physical appearance is directly linked to confidence, it’s important for owners to assure their members that it’s not the only reason to purchase a gym membership. Wellness is about much more than what we see on the outside.

Specific body types and looks are constantly being broadcasted online, on television and social media, convincing both men and women that they have to look a certain way to achieve happiness. Technology isn’t the culprit here–we are. Health club owners and fitness professionals are direct influencers of this epidemic, which is why it’s imperative for them to use technology as a tool to spread positivity by encompassing every aspect of fitness and wellness, not just appearance.

Anything posted online has potential to spread like wildfire. It’s up to the professionals in the industry to make sure what’s being showcased isn’t toxic to their consumers.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR OWNERS

Luckily, social media has given owners opportunities to boost member confidence and increase revenue in the process. Through simple posts and accurate hashtagging, owners are able to share progress and transformation photos on their social media platforms, celebrating member accomplishments and more importantly, praising their none-scale victories.

Club owners can instantly motivate their members through positive sayings, quotes of encouragement and get members excited about exercise and how healthy it makes them feel. Personal trainers and class instructors can go beyond teaching by empathizing with members, offering compassion and listening to them during moments of frustration or discouragement.

They can give encouraging advice in person and online, comment on their social media posts and share them to applaud their triumphs. Building and maintaining these business-to-consumer relationships on and offline will only continue to help gyms and health clubs flourish.  

BOTTOM LINE

In this digital age, how members feel and perceive themselves is a direct result of what they consume online. Keeping up with digital and wellness trends as an owner can only help members in the long run. To answer the question, “is digital wellness well for us?” Yes. It’s an open door to fade out negativity surrounding “ideal” body images and shift focus to all areas of fitness and what being healthy truly means, putting more revenue in an owner’s pocket.

7 DIET WARNING SIGNS TO WATCH OUT FOR

ASF 7 Diet Warning Signs To Watch Out For

If you keep up with fitness and health trends, you’ve probably heard countless perceptions on how to lose weight. With how intimidating weight loss can be and how much light is shed on many diet fads, it’s easy to fall into traps. To help you prevent this, here are some warning signs to be mindful of.

1. INFOMERCIALS THAT OVERPROMISE

Infomercials that guarantee a specific amount of weight loss in an unrealistic amount of time by following their diets or programs are what you need to watch out for. For one, these types of programs often lead to short-term results and water loss, not fat loss. Second, our bodies are all different, and even the most scientific of weight loss programs can’t predict how much weight someone will lose and how long it will take, according to SELF Magazine.

Like it or not, true weight loss takes time and consistency. Keep in mind, however, not to confuse this with goal-oriented six-week fitness challenges that many gyms offer. The main takeaway is that if you see something on television that seems too good to be true, it probably is.

2. IT INVOLVES A PILL

Although some supplements like green tea extract and glucomannan are supposed to suppress your appetite and aid in fat burning, there is no “magic pill” for weight loss. According to Healthline, certain pills can be useful to nudge your metabolism, but no pill truly sheds fat. A combination of a balanced diet along with consistent exercise are key to weight loss. Learn more about different weight loss mistakes here.

3. UNNECESSARY EXPENSIVE PRODUCTS

It’s no secret that many of us associate better products with higher costs. In fact, many gyms and fitness clubs offer programs and plans that are cost-heavy but are actually worth the money, however, according to SELF Magazine, if certain diets require you to purchase expensive supplements and outrageously priced organic food, then it’s probably a waste.

What you should invest in is simple: whole foods like vegetables, fruit and lean proteins along with a gym membership, some workout gear and any other useful perks like personal training that will help you reach your fitness goals. Otherwise, turn the other way if it seems fishy and requires you to break the bank.  

4. LINKS NEGATIVITY TO SPECIFIC FOODS

First off, this isn’t about specific diets like the Keto diet which eliminates carbs. If something like that works best for you, then do it. This is about weight loss programs that place toxic and bad labels on foods like dairy or gluten. The truth is that too much of anything isn’t good for you and weight loss takes place through a calorie deficit.

Of course, it’s best to reduce the amount of processed foods you put into your body, but even these foods aren’t “toxic.” Restricting certain foods only makes us want them more, which leads to yo-yo behavior. Instead, practice moderation by eating clean most of the time and indulging some of the time. If your diet uses a fear tactic to scare you out of eating something, it’s best not to follow it.

5. EXERCISE ISN’T ENCOURAGED

Many diets out there use the “no exercise” tactic as a way of convincing us to follow their plans, because who wants to get up and work to lose weight, right?  To reiterate, weight loss operates by burning more calories than you consume. Although improving diet alone is extremely effective, results will eventually become stagnant if that’s your only weight loss approach.

To achieve long-term results, it’s recommended to eat a balanced diet while focusing on weightlifting.The more muscle you build, the more calories you burn while at rest, which will ultimately help you shed the fat for good. The bottom line here is that you have to work for what you get–don’t be fooled otherwise.

6. RELIES ONLY ON THE SCALE

It’s not necessarily a negative thing to have an end weight goal, but it’s important to understand the possible psychological harm the scale can do, which is why it’s best to stay away from any diet that strictly focuses on how much you weigh. This is because the scale doesn’t tell us the difference between fat and muscle. So, while you’re losing fat, you could also be gaining muscle in the process, which explains why you might not see a number drop. In a nutshell, the scale is commonly associated with the feeling of failure, so it’s best to stand clear of any diets that rely on it. Learn more about the scale here.

7. JUICE CLEANSES

Juice cleanses have been around for ages and we trust them with the misconception that they are healthy and will detox our bodies. According to Redbook, there is no scientific evidence that says juice cleanses rid our bodies of toxins. These cleanses also deprive our bodies of essential nutrients that actually aid in weight loss like fiber, protein and healthy fats.

So, if you’re on a juice cleanse and you’re feeling hungry and low on energy, it’s because your body needs substance and juice alone will not suffice. Juice cleanses can also cause weight gain, according to Redbook. The lack of calories during a juice cleanse results in the body holding onto whatever it can, which can slow the metabolism down, causing you to feel sluggish and eventually crash.  

BOTTOM LINE

The best way to lose weight is whatever is most realistic for you, and diet fads are typically huge hypocrites when it comes to any sustainable measure of weight loss, so know the facts and do your research before committing to anything.

HOW TO HAVE A HEALTHY HOLIDAY SEASON

For many, the holiday season is a typical time to get carried away and forget about fitness. Fortunately, there are many ways to practice healthy habits and still enjoy yourself. Here are some ways to do it.

NEVER GO TO A PARTY HUNGRY

Going to a party in starvation mode is basically a recipe for disaster because it’s one of the many ways people go downhill with their fitness goals. Eat a healthy meal before attending a holiday party so that you only indulge a little, and reach for the vegetables first before chowing down on the unhealthy options.

BRING A HEALTHY DISH TO THE PARTY

Good news is that you can have control over what’s being served at a party if you bring a healthier dish to share. Not only does this align with your weight loss and fitness goals, but it’s a courteous gesture, which is a bonus.

DON’T WAIT FOR THE NEW YEAR TO EXERCISE

Not only does this mentality lead to overall laziness, but it goes hand and hand with an “all or nothing” mindset, which is typically not effective in terms of long-term fitness. Try staying as healthy as possible and up to par with your fitness goals by moving more during the holidays.

INVEST IN FITNESS

There’s nothing wrong with buying yourself an early holiday gift. If you don’t already have one, treat yourself to a gym membership, a personal trainer or invest in new workout gear. This sets you up for success for a healthy holiday season and prepares you for the new year.

EAT ON SMALLER PLATES

We tend to eat what we see in front of us, so naturally watch your portions with minimal effort by simply eating your food on smaller plates at parties and family dinners.

PARTICIPATE IN ACTIVE HOLIDAY FESTIVITIES

As tempting as it is to nestle under a blanket the entire holiday season, there are plenty of festive physical activities to do. Go ice skating, sledding, skiing or snowboarding. Even something as simple as walking around to see Christmas lights can do the trick, as long as you’re staying on your feet.  Exercising in the cold also boosts your immune system and helps convert some of the body’s fat cells from unhealthy “white” fat to heat-producing metabolically active “beige” fat, which ultimately burns more calories and aids in weight loss according to Tree Hugger.

COOK AND BAKE WITH HEALTHIER INGREDIENTS

Traditional holiday treats are some of the main culprits to over-indulgence and weight gain. Replace common baking and cooking ingredients like flour, sugar and butter with applesauce, canned pumpkin, whole wheat flour, Greek yogurt, cinnamon, oats, black beans, honey and avocado. Check out more healthy ingredient swaps here.

DON’T RESTRICT YOURSELF

When we restrict ourselves to certain foods, especially during the holidays when there’s an abundance of special treats, we naturally want them more. Not only is it perfectly normal to let yourself indulge, but it’s actually important if you’re focused on weight loss or weight maintenance. The more realistic you are, the more mindful you’ll be, and you’ll naturally indulge less.

HOW TO EAT HEALTHY ON A BUDGET

How to eat right on a budget copy

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.

Here’s How to Eat Right 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/