Dec 16 2014

Healthy Lifestyle Tip: Simple and Sensible

You can and should enjoy this time of year. But remember, no matter where you are, you always have choices. Always strive to make the best decision based on your options.

Of course you know this stuff, but in the interest of limiting the January pain, here’s a quick refresher course:

1. Change your definitions of full. After most meals, you should feel as if you could get up, go outside and take a brisk walk. Stop eating when you get to that point.

2. Make a plan. Think about where you will be, who you will be with, what foods will be available, what foods are really special to you vs. those that you could probably do without, what are your personal triggers to overeat and how you can minimize them. Once you’ve thought about all of these things, make a plan of action.

3. Quit judging yourself by the foods you eat. You’re not necessarily “good” if you eat a salad or “bad” if you eat fudge. They’re both just food. And all foods are allowed – it’s the amount you eat that you have to watch. Don’t rush through the experience.

4. Forget “all or nothing.” If you’re feeling that you’ve already “blown it” with a doughnut in the morning, don’t use that feeling as an excuse to raid the cookie jar at night. Instead, think of ways to be physically active 30 minutes a day.

5. Get a move on. In addition to burning calories, exercise is a great way to deal with stress. Exercise is the fountain of youth and one of the best investments you can make for your health.
Remember, this time of year you should enjoy good times with family and friends. The important thing to keep in mind is balance and moderation.
Source: Linda Nye, RD MPH

Dec 10 2014

5 Ways to Stay Motivated During the Last Months of the Year

We’re in the final stretch of the year, and is it just me, or does everyone else feel their energy draining, too?

Call it the rush of the holidays, but I think it’s also a combination of the onset of winter, and the upset of everything that is routine in our lives.

Here are five strategies I’m currently putting in to action to keep my motivation on the upswing this holiday season, and I hope you’ll find them useful too!

1.) Get Started on Those New Year’s Resolutions Now

I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions simply because I don’t think anyone should need a January 1st start date to make a change in their life.

However, if you have a goal this year to hit the gym more often, or to increase your weights or push yourself harder, get started on those things now. Not only will you feel less pressure than you would on New Year’s Day, but it gives you time to ease in to a new habit.

One of the biggest reasons why New Year’s resolutions fail is because people go from zero to sixty in a matter of a day, and cultivating a new routine or practice takes time. You’re going to have to take rest days and steadily increase your weights and time, but if you get started on those things now, you’ll be at a strong starting point come the first of the year.

2.) Adopt the “Treat Yourself” Philosophy

Now there’s a disclaimer for this one: not every effort should warrant a treat, but during the holidays this strategy could help keep things in check.

A lot of folks know they’re going to eat more during the holidays. Between the various feasts, Christmas cookies and holiday parties we know we’re going to indulge, and since the holidays only roll around once a year, we think it’s fair that we take advantage of all the deliciousness.

If you adopt the “treat yourself” philosophy, that means putting in a good portion of effort before you partake in indulgences so in a sense, you’re earning it.

For example, if you’re headed to your work holiday party, fit in a tough HIIT workout. If you’re participating in a cookie exchange, make sure to hit a spin class that morning.

Whenever you know you’ll be indulging, try to schedule in something that will allow you to “earn” your extra indulgences.

3.) Make it Fun

Not all workouts need to be serious. One of the key aspects to sticking with your workout routine is making it fun and enjoyable, so the holidays should be no different.

Try participating in a fun holiday-time boot camp, a themed adventure race or a reindeer run.

In fact, VIDA Fitness at City Vista and Verizon are hosting their Inaugural Reindeer 5K Run on Sunday, December 14th at 10:00AM at VIDA Verizon, and it’s something you definitely won’t want to miss.

It’s a great time with fellow VIDA members and you can bring guests with you as well! Check out the event and RSVP on Eventbrite.

4.) Add in a Little Me Time

It’s like clockwork, I always get sick right before the holidays. Part of it is simply the shift in season, but it’s mostly the stress with work and the holidays in general.

With it being so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle, I make a conscious effort to carve out some “me time” as to avoid getting that dreaded holiday bug.

That might mean working out in the morning, but hitting a relaxing yoga class after work, or if I don’t have time for a full yoga class I make sure to allot ten minutes of my post-workout to the sauna (aka my version of heaven come winter-time).

Whatever it may be, try to bring some intention to your days by shutting out the outside world and creating time to do nothing but unwind and be inside your own head.

5.) Don’t accept excuses

Okay, we could argue this point is valid all year long, but I think we can all relate to that feeling of letting the holiday season take temporary control over our lives.

“Well, it’s the holidays,” we say to ourselves. “I’ll get back to working hard next week.”

Let’s not forget that the holidays are really only a few days over the course of the month and it’s not exactly fair to ourselves to slack off for the entire month just because Santa’s coming to town.

Anytime you feel yourself saying or doing something that’s an excuse, do 20 minutes of vigorous activity. That could be walking, doing three sets of body weight exercises on the floor, whatever, but you’ll quickly see that your excuse wasn’t valid.

Do whatever works, but remind yourself that you’re worth the time you invest in your health, and no bit of holiday stress is worth more than your health!

Dec 8 2014

VIDA Instructor Profile: Savannah Fox

sfoxWhy did you decide to become a Group fitness instructor?

Former soccer player Savannah Fox was at the University of South Carolina when she was pulled into a Group Fitness class by a teammate who thought it would be an easy way to stay fit while recovering from a knee injury. She was hooked. After seven years of teaching classes, the Atlanta native still loves the rush of teaching classes. Savannah found a home at VIDA a year and a half ago when she moved to DC.

What’s one thing you want all your first-time class participants to know?

People think you have to have been, or currently be, a dancer to do a barre class, but anyone can do it. Its a class which you really do have to put “Mind over Body” to sustain the repetition of the tiniest of leg lifts. With a strong mind set you will see a huge improvement in your flexibility, strength and posture only after a few classes!

When you’re not squeezing another plie out of your students, where can they find you?

Hopping on and off planes for my 9-5 job as a Field Organizer for Amnesty International to do everything from educate students across the country on human rights issues, conduct trainings in London or participate in delegations to Geneva. When she’s not working you can find her hiking the trails of Rock Creek Park or enjoying a beer with friends at one of DC’s breweries (a favorite past time held over from her time living in Germany).

How are your classes different from other instructors’?

Always be ready for a good time- whether thats working out to a mix of old school songs and new beats or sharing a laugh. Savannah really wants to get to know whose in her class beyond just your names. She loves learning where her participants are from, what they study, their favorite foods, etc. The more she knows about her participants, the better she can motivate her class!

Tell us something we don’t know about you (embarrassing moment, fun fact, favorite unhealthy food, childhood trait, etc.)!

Savannah grew up on the beach in Florida and still feels most at home in the ocean. She was always at the beach with her older brother from 6am to catch the first surf waves until 6pm paddling in with the sunset.

Dec 5 2014

Healthy Lifestyle Tip: Feel Good

Up until recently, the conventional wisdom was that exercise was good for you, but did not necessarily reduce stress levels. Now, supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, a research team based at Princeton University found that physical activity really does reduce the body’s response to stress.

What happens is that exercise “reorganizes” the brain, so that its response to stress is reduced, and anxiety is less likely to interfere with normal brain function. Specifically, the study showed that exercise produced a large increase in the number of new neurons in the hippocampus, the brain region shown to regulate anxiety.

1. Exercise pumps up endorphins. Physical activity helps increase the production of the brain’s “feel-good” neurotransmitters, called endorphins.

2. Exercise is meditation in motion. After exercising, most of us have forgotten the day’s irritations by concentrating only on the body’s movements. Often people discover that regular exercise helps people remain calm and clear in everything that they do.

3. Exercise generally improves mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with anxiety. Many people find they sleep better when they have exercised.

Dec 2 2014

VIDA Barre Student Profile – Lauren Dyer

How long have you been taking Barre?

The first class I took was back in March, which is when I joined VIDA.

Lauren Dyer (r) with Colleen Palomaa (l)

Lauren Dyer (r) with Colleen Palomaa (l)

What do you like specifically about Barre?

I love it because it’s really supplemental to my overall weekly training routine. It’s not yoga or Pilates, where sometimes I leave feeling like I still need to do a little more with my workout. Barre has that cardio element, and I love the isometric movements, especially the core and ab work.

I also like how each muscle group has it’s own focus. You start with a solid warmup and then move to arms, then to seat work, then abs, then back to legs. I like the variety, and most importantly I love that no one class is the same.

And the music element makes you feel like you’re bringing out your inner ballerina, and who doesn’t love that?!

What else do you do outside of Barre? Kind of like what you alluded to, what do you use Barre to supplement?

I did Barre twice a week while I was doing my 18-week half marathon training, which was last week (the Richmond Half Marathon). And now I’m back to my typical routine of working out about five days a week with a variety of activities like running, cycling, circuit training, but maintaining Barre twice a week has really helped with my balance and stability.

And it really helped in my hip flexors. I think Barre has helped me strengthen in that area, which makes you less prone to injury with running.

What changes other than those with your running have you noticed since you’ve been taking Barre?

I can definitely hold my plank longer! But the first place I noticed change was in my arms, and that’s just from holding a two and a half pound weight. You don’t realize at first that the ballet movements make it a lot tougher than it appears.

What’s your favorite Barre “move”?

The chair is one of the most rewarding moves for me because that movement really fires up your entire body and makes it feel like you have to give it your all to hold that pose.

What would you say to someone, like me, who at first might not think that Barre is a “real” workout?

Well, I definitely challenge them to come to a class and just try it! Throw out your preconceived notions because you’ll quickly see that your body will be put to work and you might even surprise yourself.

Also, the more you come to class, the more challenging it becomes. You get to create your own challenges by going a little lower, holding a little longer…and don’t be afraid of the shaking!