Mar 27 2014

VIDA Fitness Healthy Lifestyle Tip

Check out this weeks Healthy Lifestyle Tip: Easy Ways to Stress Less

Stress is bad for your overall well-being, including your cholesterol, but small changes to your everyday routine can help reduce stress.

Sip a Cup of Tea
Black tea is rich in stress-busting antioxidants, including polyphenols, flavonoids, and amino acids.

Try a Little Aromatherapy
It’s time to stop and smell the roses especially since they contain linalool, a chemical that helps reduce stress. So do herbs, such as lavender and basil, and fruit, such as oranges, grapes, and mangoes.

Laugh Away Stress
When it comes to stress, laughter really is good medicine. A good belly laugh triggers the production of endorphins, the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters. It also relaxes your blood vessels and increases blood flow — the ideal antidote to tension.

Take a Walk
If stress is a constant companion, add a 20- to 30-minute walk to your daily routine. Walking and other forms of exercise help reduce anxiety.

Find a Room with a View
Next time you’re overwhelmed, turn off the computer screen and look out the window instead. The more time people spend gazing at the view, the faster their heart rates drop back to normal.

Listen to Relaxing Music
Listening to mellow tunes with a slow, steady rhythm helps slow down your breathing and heart rate so you feel calmer.

Eat Happy Meals
A smart diet is as important for managing stress as it is to keeping cholesterol in check. Be sure to include foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may help boost your mood (along with “good” HDL cholesterol), and magnesium, a mineral that may help soothe an overactive stress-response system.

Mar 24 2014

A Discussion With Cat Taylor — VIDA Fitness Nutritionist — Part 2

Cat This Month we celebrate National Nutrition Month with a 2 part interview with VIDA Fitness Nutritionist Catherine (Cat) Taylor, RD. Cat studied Dietetics and Gerontology at James Madison University and in the process discovered a great passion for helping others improve their lives through nutrition. Cat believes in a total diet approach to healthy eating based on the principles of balance, adequacy, moderation, variety, and portion control. There is no “one size fits all” in nutrition and Cat wants to empower VIDA’s members to find their “fit.”. Cat sat down with VIDA Fitness blogger Paris Achenbach to discuss a wide range of topics related to nutrition. Below please find Part 2 of this interview. If you would like to find out more about VIDA Fitness’s Nutritional Programs you can email Catherine Taylor.

P: What’s the Mediterranean diet?

C: A lot of chicken, fish, lean proteins, nuts and beans, fruits and vegetables, and oils.

P: No dairy?

C: Well, yogurt. And also, there’s nothing wrong with dairy. If you’re concerned about the hormones in milk, get organic. So many people are going to soymilk and almond milk when they’re not even lactose intolerant, and they’re removing a really, really beneficial nutrient and really the perfect formula, and replacing with something that’s not as good. People assume that because almond milk is a milk replacement, it’s going to be the same. But there’s only one gram of protein. And any sugar in soymilk is added, which isn’t as good as drinking sugar from its natural state in milk.

P: What do you think about bread?

C: I think it’s fine. Have a freakin’ sandwich! People struggle with lunch because they’re in meetings all the time, and it’s hard to sit down and eat a salads or something like that. And I just say, make a sandwich! Whole wheat bread, turkey, or a veggie burger, and avocado, or hummus, and mustard. A lot of people will do really fatty things instead. And fats add up in calories far faster than whole wheat piece of bread would. A piece of bread is a hundred calories, whereas that size amount of almonds is 400 calories. The same volume of almonds or oil or anything that’s mostly fat is going to be double the amount of calories of that volume of carbs and protein. Carbs and protein are four calories per gram of food. Fats are nine calories per gram of food.

P: I never thought about that.

C: Yeah, carbs have gotten a bad rep because we started making them processed and refined, stripping all the nutrients out of them to make white bread and sourdough and white pasta and white rice, and then filled our whole plate with it, instead of a portion of your plate. A portion would mean having meat with it, have veggies with it. It means having minimum 3 food groups per meal.

P: Do you suggest to your clients to go out to eat less?

C: Ideally they should. Even if you are making the healthiest choices at a restaurant, a restaurant’s number-one focus is to make you like the food, so they’re going to put more salt on it and more fat in it, than if you made the same thing at home. And the portions are just going to be bigger. So it’s always better to make it at home, but that’s not realistic, especially in DC. People are always going out. I just suggest to pack lunch at least, because it saves money, saves time, it’s healthier, you don’t have to leave the office to get it, you can come to VIDA on your lunch break and then eat your lunch at home.

P: So what do you eat in a typical day?

C: Unfortunately I am creature of habit, and I try to switch it up because I tell my clients to switch it up. But breakfast almost always the same: oatmeal or overnight oats, blueberries, walnuts for the omega-3s, sometimes flaxmeal or chia seeds, and skim milk. And a little glass of orange juice, because I can’t live without that. And coffee with skim milk. For a snack, I’ll have a banana with almonds or nut butter, and Chobani yogurt. For snacks I always try to have two or more food groups. For lunch, either a sandwich or a wrap with chicken or a veggie burger, and avocado, mustard, and lettuce, and I’ll pair that with a snack like yogurt or fruit. I always have something before I work out, too. After my workout, I try to have some protein powder with water, and a piece of fruit. And for dinner, my favorite thing to do is to make a big salad-bar-type salad, loaded with spinach and romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, peas, sunflower seeds, beets, always a protein of some kind, whether it’s a veggie burger from home, or salmon or chicken or tuna. I might throw on some brown rice or quinoa too, and use oil and vinegar as a dressing.

P: So no dessert usually, but maybe on special occasions…?

C: If I need something sweet I’ll eat dark chocolate. Or, since I’m lactose intolerant, I’ll go to a place like frozen yo, and I get frozen yogurt and top it with fruit and granola and nuts. That’s a good way to fix that sweet tooth in a healthy way.

P: Does a sweet tooth dissipate over time?

C: It does! Part of that, from my own personal experience is, when I cut out artificial sweeteners, my sweet tooth went away. A research study shows that artificial sweeteners don’t go through our body without any affect. For one, they show hormonal affects in in our insulin response. And they’re also increasing our need for sugar, for sweet. Because those artificial sweeteners are still having the same neurological responses as regular sugar would. It constantly keeps that sweet tooth going. So actually now that I’ve eliminated artificial sweeteners, I don’t need sugar like I used to. Before, if I had passed a cupcake, I had to eat one. Now I’m just like, eh. I don’t need it.

P: I strive to be like you.

C: Might want to cut out artificial sweeteners!

P: I don’t think I eat a lot of artificial sweeteners though. I wonder how many things have them without me knowing?

C: Probably more than you think. Any diet soda, any drink that’s “low-sugar,” they’ve added Splenda or Stevia. Some protein powder has artificial sugars in there, and some cereals still do it. And all the light yogurts, not low-fat but the “light” yogurts, so “Chobani Simply 100” or “Dannon Light and Fit” – all of those have either Stevia or Splenda, which in the ingredients label is sucralose.

P: Sucralose is Splenda?

C: Yep. Just as a P.S. – the “Extra” blue packet is aspartame, the pink “Sweet-and-Low” is saccharin, and Splenda is sucralose. A lot of people don’t realize that.

Mar 20 2014

Help VIDA Fitness find a cure for ALS

ALS LogoTeam-up with VIDA Fitness during May to raise awareness and work towards finding a cure for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Many of you may also be familiar with the world famous Ice Bucket Challenge.

We’re hosting a rooftop Cocktail Party and Silent Auction at The Penthouse Pool and Lounge at The Yards at 1212 4th St SE, Washington, DC 20003. Please join us on Friday, May 29th from 7pm to 12 Midnight and purchase your tickets today at You may also make a general donation using this link if you’d like to support this amazing cause, but are unable to attend the event. We have some wonderful items for our Silent Auction that you won’t want to miss!

Tickets are only $25 and all proceeds from ticket sales, cash bar, and the Silent Auction will go directly to Augie’s Quest, a non-profit ALS research initiative dedicated to finding a cure for the disease. The ticket price includes food from The Penthouse Pool and Lounge as well as participating restaurants in the neighborhood. We also have 3 remaining sponsorships available for $1000 that includes a cabana for your group along with bottle service and 10 tickets to the event.

We’re also looking for personal stories from our members and other DC residents that have been affected by ALS. Please contact us if you or someone you know has a personal connection to this aggressive disease.

Augie’s Quest and ALS TDI

The purpose of Augie’s Quest has always been to fund research and drug development aimed at ending ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. Since 2007, Augie’s Quest has raised over $44 million in support of finding effective ALS treatments- making it the largest individual fundraising program for ALS!

All funds raised by Augie’s Quest benefit ALS TDI, the world’s largest ALS-dedicated drug development organization. Support comes from a huge network of national events and promotions, including the BASH for Augie’s Quest, Tradition of Hope Gala and widely successful campaigns within the very generous fitness industry, such as the Clubs for the Quest, as well as a hugely innovative joint-fundraising initiative called the ClubCorp Charity Classic which benefits Augie’s Quest and other local charities chosen by that networks members directly.

The ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI) is the world’s leader in ALS research. Our mission has precise focus: to discover and develop effective treatments to end ALS. As a nonprofit biotech, ALS TDI combines the ambition and strategy of a pharmaceutical company with the dedicated spirit of a 501c3, with incredible flexibility to expedite promising potential treatments from lab bench to people living with the disease today. Founded by a patient and his family, and featuring PALS and their loved ones in the highest leadership roles, a sense of urgency and perseverance drives every decision made at the Cambridge, MA-based institute.


Mar 19 2014

Maximizing your Cardio Workouts: The Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training

By Rachel Morrison
VIDA Fitness City Vista, Personal Trainer

Most people know that an effective fitness regimen means combining weight training and cardio. However, often cardio becomes the time when people zone out. Getting on a machine where you can watch TV or read while mindlessly pedaling or letting the elliptical carry you may make the time pass quicker, but it is also not going to produce the kind of concrete results you want. Cardio capacity is defined by your ability to get your heart rate higher, not just the endurance to stay on a machine for 45 minutes.  So if you want to maximize your body’s ability to burn fat and hang on to that hard earned muscle, try introducing high intensity interval training to your cardio regimen.

There are three heart rate training zones for cardio training, ranging from 65-95% of your Heart Rate Max.  A quick estimation of HRmax can be calculated by subtracting your age from 220. So, if you use a 30 year old as an example, their HRmax would be 190, and their training zones would be as follows:

1)      Zone 1 =  65-75% HRmax =  123.5 – 142.5
2)      Zone 2 = 76-85% HRmax = 144.4 – 161.5
3)      Zone 3 = 86 – 95% HRmax = 163.4 – 180.5

Often when people do steady state cardio, they only work in zone 1, or maybe 2. But if you have been doing that for a while, it is high time to push yourself if you want to advance your fitness.  To do an interval workout, start by pushing into your zone 2 heart rate range for 1 minute and then bring it back into zone 1 for 3 minutes to recover and repeat that 10 times. You can increase intensity to achieve the higher heart rate by increasing resistance, speed or incline for example.  This can be done on the bike, treadmill or stair climber, all of which have heart rate sensors.  Once you can handle that, try true high intensity intervals or sprints. This means a ratio of 1 to 3 time wise, so that the 1 is all out effort and 3 is recovery.  So your all out effort should take you well into heart rate zone 3 and you should be breathing hard and feeling like you can’t make it. This will be a shorter interval so a good starting example would be 30 seconds all out sprint and 1.5 minutes of recovery where you allow the heart rate to come back down.   Again, repeat 10 times, or go for 20 minutes. The faster your heart rate drops during recovery, the fitter your heart is getting so look to this to measure your progress.

The effort of pushing your body to the max, recovering, and then doing it over again will place the highest demand on your cardiovascular system to seriously boost your capacity over time and contribute to any goal whether it be weight loss, body fat reduction or just plain getting and staying lean.  This quick demand for energy puts the body in what is called an anaerobic state where it metabolizes stored energy from carbohydrates or glucose.  But because the intensity is higher, the overall burn will be higher so your body will also metabolize a higher percentage of fat than it would in a low-intensity bout of steady state cardio activity. When you challenge your body this way, it will also cause your metabolism to function at a higher level for an extended time after you finish your workout. Sometimes this is referred to as “after burn,” or it’s more technical name, “excess post exercise oxygen consumption.”
MP Cardio
Another way to achieve this would be using the battle ropes. Using more of what’s called a Tabata style of interval training, go as hard as you can slamming the ropes for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat until you get to 4 minutes total.

The bottom line is that interval cardio training to your regimen has the greatest capacity to alter body composition and get you results you can see and feel.  The body constantly needs new challenges in order to achieve new results. Is it time for you to step it up?

Happy Sprinting!

Mar 18 2014

A Discussion With Cat Taylor — VIDA Fitness Nutritionist — Part 1

Cat This Month we celebrate National Nutrition Month with a 2 part interview with VIDA Fitness Nutritionist Catherine (Cat) Taylor, RD. Cat studied Dietetics and Gerontology at James Madison University and in the process discovered a great passion for helping others improve their lives through nutrition. Cat believes in a total diet approach to healthy eating based on the principles of balance, adequacy, moderation, variety, and portion control. There is no “one size fits all” in nutrition and Cat wants to empower VIDA’s members to find their “fit.”. Cat sat down with VIDA Fitness blogger Paris Achenbach to discuss a wide range of topics related to nutrition. If you would like to find out more about VIDA Fitness’s Nutritional Programs you can email Catherine Taylor.

Paris: What exactly do you do as a nutritionist here at VIDA Fitness?

Cat: I’m an extension of the personal training department. They brought me on to fulfill the full package of health, because equally important if not more important than exercise for health is nutrition. You can’t out-train a bad diet. No matter how much you’re putting out in exercise, if you’re eating your exercise or putting the wrong things in your body you’re not going to get to the goal you need to be at. I also do consultations for clients, similar to purchasing a personal training package. So that consists of an initial consultation of an hour where we set a nutrition plan. It’s really catered to the individual, every session is a little different based on where people are at in their journey with nutrition, and what their needs are. Sometimes calories aren’t even pertinent, and we don’t even end up calculating calories. And there are follow-up sessions to ensure their success and keep them on track.

P: So you probably work with a variety of people with a variety of diets, such as vegetarianism and gluten-free. How do you deal with that? What is your background in?

C: My background is in dietetics, which is food science, and it’s very clinical. I worked in a hospital last year, and I’m taking that experience into the wellness industry. A lot of my clients are general weight loss who just need general healthful diets, not vegan or gluten free – just a basic diet that will fuel a healthy lifestyle. I have a few clients who are more strategic in doing nutrient timing, specific food pairings for different times of the day, what exactly to eat before and after exercise. Nutrition can get very detailed. It can go from very general to very complicated.

P: For general weight loss, is it just setting goals for what to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and how to cut back on calories, and basic things like that?

C: Even before I get to calories, it’s “What are those calories made up of?” So I don’t like to do a whole lot of focusing on cutting back on calories. That’s never the first thing I bring up. I bring up, number one, what are you eating? What is breakfast lunch and dinner? More than anything, 1800 calories could be a really healthful diet, or it could be a piece of pizza. So I ask, what is a typical day? And not just what they’re eating, but what is their typical routine? So that I can understand challenges they face in the day, what kind of responsibilities they have.

P: Do you find any trends among your clients? Or is everyone really different?

C: There’s a lot of different, but I do see a continual theme of not eating breakfast.

P: …And not eating breakfast is bad?

C: Right. The idea is to fuel yourself throughout the day starting by first thing in the morning to start your metabolism going. A lot of people don’t eat breakfast and then maybe eat lunch. We live in a city where everyone’s working and it’s all about work. Everyone’s very busy, especially here in Penn Quarter, so a lot of people don’t plan for breakfast and lunch.

P: They probably just think their metabolism is getting started on coffee.

C: Right. So when they don’t plan for it, they don’t have breakfast, and most of their calories are happening at night when they go home. They eat a big dinner, or are grazing and snacking throughout the day. So the first thing I say is, if you don’t do anything different, eat breakfast. I don’t care what it is. Well, I kind of care what it is. And another the big thing is misconceptions on protein and carbs. There’s so much misinformation out there, or there’s so much information it makes people a danger to themselves.

P: How so?

C: Because they see something good about protein and they take it to the extreme and forget about the other nutrients you need. Or they read, “Dairy is bad for you! Soy is bad for you! Gluten is bad for you!” And they take it to the extreme, or they become confused. Without guidance, the information out there can be harmful.

P: What fueled your interest in nutrition in the first place?

C: It’s a funny story. My senior year of high school I decided to join a gym and become more conscious about what I was eating. I was always a healthy eater but I decided to not eat as many sweets, and fast food and stuff like that. So you know, I was eating just well, nothing crazy, I wasn’t cutting anything out. And I lost ten pounds, got toned up… but unfortunately that led to an obsession, and once it was summertime and I wasn’t working out, I gained the weight back that before I didn’t notice was a problem, but when you lose weight and you’re seventeen and there’s this whole body image issue, focusing on it became a good and a bad thing. Because it showed that I was interested in nutrition, because I thought it was so interesting how food really did make a difference in how you felt and looked. But majoring in dietetics at school helped me heal, and become healthier again with nutrition and exercise. It brought me back to that balance because it taught me what nutrition is really about.

P: What is nutrition really about then?

C: It’s not about depriving yourself, it’s not about reducing yourself to 1200 calories and seeing how few you can have in a day. It’s about fueling yourself and your lifestyle in the healthiest way possible, in the sense of eating healthy whole grains, lean proteins, vegetables and fruits, and healthy fats, drinking water. And fitting in those things you really like but in moderation, and learning what balance is, and learning what nutrition really needs to do for our bodies. There’s just such an interesting relationship with food in this country, it’s either over-indulgence or deprivation. So I really strive to help bring that medium back in, trying to pull people back into the center, as well as keeping myself that way. So still having goals, still keeping people accountable, but at the same time not killing yourself over it and keeping yourself sane.

P: So what do you think of diets like intermittent fasting?

C: I think it’s silly, and certainly not eating to fuel your lifestyle. That’s just in my mind one of those “different way to do things.” People aren’t ready to just accept that you just need to eat five groups in moderation and you’ll get there. They want something else. The only diet I do believe in is the Mediterranean diet.

Stay Tuned Next Week for Part 2