By Jamie Zacharias, RN, MSN, Nurse Practitioner, GFI
In an effort to find the “new” normal with Covid-19 not going away anytime soon, how many goals have you set personally and professionally? If you are like me, I feel like there are plenty I used to have but the thought of even setting one seems overwhelming given the environment we are in. How did this happen? Goal setting used to be simple regardless of whether the goal was actually achieved or not. Little did I know that when I made my list of goals for 2020 at the end of the last year, how many life changes we were all going to experience together as a society. If you haven’t already, give yourself permission to not have it all together.
While things have happened not according to plan, I have learned a great deal about myself and how I needed to change my approach to getting anything done. I still have great aspirations this year for my family, work as an NP, and getting MASHUP® into the hands of more fitness professionals and fitness enthusiasts with our certification, live classes and app. However, I discovered that if any headway was to be made, I had to change my approach to goals by focusing on creating new good habits. If I think about my goals amidst the out-of-control days and constant interruptions, I default to saying I’ll start on a certain date when I have more time but then that goal doesn’t seem as significant and it gets put on the back burner. I’m tired of getting distracted with the big picture and rationalizing my decisions to set certain goals aside because they feel unattainable and I have been defeated.
We really do like change if it means better outcomes for us.
What most of are good at is being creatures of habit. Maybe we should run with that instead of focusing on the goal to get somewhere. Let your goal point you a certain direction but focus on the new habits that need to occur instead. I would bet that we could almost even ignore the goal and focus solely on what we should do daily and get the same results.
Let's say a live group fitness instructor branches out into the virtual realm ignoring their goal of building the same size class on Zoom that they had at the gym. Instead they focus on what new habits they need to do at each class to accommodate the virtual environment while delivering a beneficial experience for participants. Chances are that their class is going to grow and the things they doing to create the growth are more important than the goal anyway.
A postpartum mom's goal is to lose her baby weight. While their are many things she could start doing, is it realistic? Sometimes trying to do everything at once can be so overwhelming that none of them happen. If she focuses on implementing 1 or 2 new good habits daily (exercise for 15 minutes and drink half of her body weight in water). She will feel successful, motivated, healthier and happier everyday along the way without having to wait until she get's to her goal weight.
Now, changing old habits is very difficult. We find comfort in old behaviors or old ways of thinking which is tied to our identity. Instead of trying to just change old habits, we should focus on creating good ones; habits that can be a part of your identity if they are truly going to stick. The live group ex instructor has adopted a new identity: “I’m a virtual group ex instructor”.
Hopefully, down the road the old ones will fade away or get replaced. If we can focus on completing a good habit (it does not have to be a drastic one) daily, we create a sense of accomplishment. While one new habit might seem marginal, that new repetitive behavior points us in the direction we need to go while achieving success along the way. Continuing one small habit can turn into something significant. Daily success boosts confidence and motivation which is evidence that the new habit is worthwhile and that the end goal is achievable.
Reaching a goal is one moment in time whereas habits are everlasting.
Getting to your goal is admirable. What happens after that? Do we change what we are doing because we reached it? I don’t know about you, but I want and need to feel successful and happy every day in order to keep my head on straight, not just when I attain my goal. Ultimately, it’s the daily habits we repeat that can bring us the feeling of success and happiness and long-term progress. Most of us want to continue feeling that way versus not. We want to win daily versus an occasionally when we get to a goal. Committing to good daily habits is what really is going to make a difference in seeing progress!
About the Author
Jamie Zacharias, RN, MSN, Nurse Practitioner, is a Cooper Physical Fitness Specialist and AFAA Group Fitness Instructor, TCU collegiate athlete, and co-founder of MASHUP®. Jamie has been in the health and fitness industry for 19 years and lives in the DFW area. She teaches classes at various fitness facilities, manages MASHUP® and works as a Nurse Practitioner at MEDI Weightloss Clinics of Fort Worth. In addition to teaching live classes, she has featured digital workouts on various platforms including the MASHUP® app.
Are You Tired, Sore, or Stressed?
Do you want to sleep better, get better workout recovery and be less stressed out? Almost 80% of Americans are deficient in magnesium and many symptoms will let you know you need more magnesium in your diet. Magnesium is in more than 300 different enzymes in your body, making it responsible for a host of processes needed to function properly. Many people even well versed in nutrition are unaware of this common deficiency and are suffering from lack of sleep, stress, and are also more at risk for high blood pressure and osteoporosis. There are so many people taking prescription drugs to provide relief of common symptoms they may be having due to a lack of magnesium.
Many foods that are high in magnesium will enhance your levels such as nuts (especially almonds), fish, and green leafy vegetables. While foods such as whole grains and wheat germ contain magnesium they also cause inflammation which actually prevents your body from absorbing the beneficial nutrients so they are not recommended as ideal food sources. As with most nutrients, daily needs for magnesium cannot be met from food alone due to modern agricultural methods leaving our soil mineral depleted. Therefore, magnesium supplementation is recommended as well. Easy ways to increase your levels of magnesium include eating more magnesium rich foods, taking a mineral supplement or alternative magnesium supplement that you can drink such as Natural Calm which can be found online as well at Sprouts, Central, Market, Whole Foods, Sunflower Shoppe and GNC.
You can even boost levels of magnesium transdermally by taking Epsom salt baths and applying magnesium lotion to your skin. These are great ways to enhance your magnesium levels to improve your sleep, reduce muscle soreness and fatigue, and decrease stress levels.
Other cool benefits of magnesium include:
· Minimizing headaches
· Boosting energy levels
· Improving insulin sensitivity (decreasing risk for diabetes or improving diabetes)
· Preventing osteoporosis
· Relief from symptoms of menopause and premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
· Minimizing the risk of premature labor
· Relief from bronchospasm (constricted airways) in the lungs
· Improvement of parathyroid function
· Increases bio-availability of vitamin B6 and cholesterol
· Improves muscle functioning
· Alleviates insomnia
· Decreases constipation
· Reduces risk of heart attacks
· Decreases high blood pressure
· Decrease occurrence of kidney stones and gallstones
If you ever attend a live MASHUP™ class, you will continue to be fed little tidbits of information such as this to help you further your health and fitness efforts far beyond just exercise.
Knowledge is power when it comes to achieving optimal wellness!
Short, Intense Workouts Work!
Physical activity is an important component of a healthy lifestyle and the benefits of regular exercise have been well established. Adopting your fitness routine to include more interval training can bring great benefits to your energy levels, body composition, and overall fitness. If you are exercising regularly, you’re already doing a great job at trying to be healthier. Unfortunately, you might find yourself among the masses of people that routinely do low to moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise for extended periods of time and therefore seeing very little results. You may also be plagued with injury because you have a weak core muscle stature and poor posture. Lastly, you may see delayed results because you are not building muscle through agility and strength exercises. With that said, we recommend a combination of Mind Body, Agility and Strength and High Intensity Intervals (HIIT) for the perfect workout so you can see maximum results in less time.
Low-volume high-intensity workouts recruit fast twitch muscle fibers increasing the production of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) naturally and normalizing insulin levels. Interval training produces healthy levels of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) which start to decline around the age of 30. One study from the Journal of Sport Sciences showed that HGH levels were up 450% by performing 30-second high intensity intervals. Benefits of healthy levels of HGH and regulated insulin levels include but are not limited to: decreasing body fat, improving muscle tone, slowing down the aging process, boosting energy, decreasing stress, preventing disease, improving athletic speed and performance and achieving fitness goals much faster.
While high intensity intervals seem perfect for losing body fat and improving lean muscle mass, we know that high levels of the hormone cortisol can cause the body to hold onto fat. That is why it is always beneficial to change up your routine where you are only performing HIIT several days per week, insert other types of physical activity in between or mix it all up on the same day and take days off in between. Instead of doing additional days of interval training, try engaging in some type of active recovery such as walking or yoga. You may find that this stress reducing exercise helps you recover more quickly from your more intense exercise schedule. In 1963, Tudor Bompa introduced this idea of periodization (AKA muscle confusion) that focuses on loading muscles in a variety of ways for optimal performance and results. By varying your workouts, the body is constantly adapting and improving upon its weaknesses, which leads to greater results.
There are numerous options to execute this type of workout. Intervals can be performed on any type of cardio equipment (stationary bike, elliptical, stairmaster, treadmill), with equipments such as kettlebells, or simply using just your body (sprinting outdoors, performing different full body functional movements). There are clear definitions of what is considered an interval and there are many variations of those definitions which can achieve the same benefit. One type of interval training is a Tabata where they exercise is performed intensely for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of recovery repeated a total of 4 times. Other forms of interval training could consist of performing the exercise intensely for 30 seconds followed by 90 seconds of recovery. For example, the 30 seconds on, 90 seconds off could be repeated 8-10 times for 15-20 minutes worth of intervals. These workouts could be done 2-3 times per week in addition to core and strengthening exercises 2-3 times per week. If you are looking for a way to easily combine all of these elements into one workout, you can try this TEMPO workout from the MASHUP® app. Within 15 minutes you get 5 minutes each of Mind/Body, Agility & Strength, and High Intensity Intervals. Enjoy!
15-minute MASHUP® Tempo Demo from MASHUP on Vimeo.
And Food Matters
Roughly, 80% of your body’s composition is a result of nutrition and only 20% is a result of physical activity; so get serious. While decreasing your carbohydrate consumption is often seen as the best way to decrease body fat, when performing High Intensity Intervals you need to ensure you are getting proper nutrition. Always start by removing the bad influences first: starches (all grains) and sugars. Then focus on getting plenty of healthy proteins (grass-fed, wild caught) and healthy fats (avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, grass-fed butter or ghee), vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Always drink lots of water. Beginning a meal or snack with healthy proteins or fats and then loading up on vegetables and some fruit for your carbohydrates can be enough to support your energy needs. Some good examples of pre and post workout snacks include but are not limited scrambled eggs with berries, avocados and grass-fed beef, an apple with almond butter, chicken and sweet potatoes.
And Get Rest
We all know that lack of sleep leaves us looking ragged the next morning. More and more research is showing that a good night’s sleep is essential for our health. In fact, getting adequate sleep to allow recovery from intense exercise is vital to maximizing the benefits from it while also preventing conditions such as high blood pressure, metabolic diseases, gastrointestinal disorders, etc. If you are having trouble sleeping through the night, you may need to reconfigure your workout regimen. It is best to get into a routine where you consistently go to bed and wake up on a regular schedule, limit distractions before sleep such as television, and practice relaxation techniques.
Studies show that those who do not sleep through the night are more at risk for numerous conditions such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke.We all know that lack of sleep leaves us looking ragged the next morning. More and more research is showing that a good night’s sleep is essential for our health. In fact, getting adequate sleep to allow recovery from intense exercise is vital to maximizing the benefits from it while also preventing conditions such as high blood pressure, metabolic diseases, gastrointestinal disorders, etc. If you are having trouble sleeping through the night, you may need to reconfigure your workout regimen. It is best to get into a routine where you consistently go to bed and wake up on a regular schedule, limit distractions before sleep such as television, and practice relaxation techniques. Studies show that those who do not sleep through the night are more at risk for numerous conditions such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke.