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5 Ways to Set Healthy Grocery Shopping Habits

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Food and water. We desperately need these things to survive… yet with today’s accessibility to all things devilishly decadent and delicious, it’s just as easy to slowly erode ourselves with them instead. The definition of “too much of a good thing” turns tragic when we can’t seem to get out of our own way no matter how hard we try. If you’re jazzed with your shopping routine and daily food choices, then rest that weary brain of yours… this article isn’t for you. However, if you need a kick in the pants when it comes to the “healthy shopping habits” dance then lace up, partner! We’re about to go to grocery boot camp!

  1. Don’t Shop Hungry. This advice is going to be novel tovery few of you (but it’s still fresh enlightenment for someone!) yet its importance cannot be stressed enough. We’re starting with this one because it has the potential to knock the rest of this list off it’s axis in spectacular fashion.Shopping hungry can make your sensibility take a back seat as your sensational cravings confiscate the wheel and steer you towards all the things that would just be SO good right now. With your defenses down, hunger high and anything you could POSSIBLY want staring you smack dab in the face, our “alarm clock reasoning” chimes in. That’s the negotiation tactic we use in the morning when we convince ourselves hitting the snooze button five times in a row is OK. Your brain filters out what doesn’t haveto be done, then nixes some more “needs,” then a couple more… and you’re totally OK with it every time. Until you’re fully awake AND GO INTO ABSOLUTE PANIC MODE AND REALIZE YOU MADE A SERIES OF TERRIBLE MISTAKES.At that point, it’s too late. Shopping hungry brings that same beast to the surface in broad daylight, with zero shame, and fills your cart full of uninvited items that were never even on the list to begin with. Sure, they would be tasty… but stick to the plan.
  2. Blueprint Your Intention. That title is a just a fancy way of saying “make a shopping list,” but with a twist. Creating an itemized checklist of what you’re plunking your hard-earned dollars down on is important, but so is the intentionthat goes with it. Don’t just stop at strategizing for the store, game plan what you want to get out of your grocery bag.Are you trying to eat better for lunch or dinner? Are you ready to start eating breakfast in the mornings? Trying to shed some pounds? Attempting to put some on? Need to lower your cholesterol or increase your fiber? Got a big event coming up? Understanding your goals and taking a laser-focused approach to every aspect is going to maximize your efficiency whilst keeping you on track during one of the easiest points to derail: food shopping. Create the blueprint and drop the hammer to it.
  3. Cut the Sugar. Seriously, cut it. Get rid of it, the excess anyway. Naturally occurring sugars that show up in fruits, vegetables, dairy, and honey (to name the big ones) are good in proper moderation… but you’re hard-pressed to find an excuse good enough to add in extra processed sugar.Too much sugar fluxes your insulin, which is your “master hormone” in charge of shuttling carbohydrates, amino acids and fats into the cells of your body. Surplus sugar on a regular basis overworks your insulin like a factory worker putting in quadruple overtime, every day, without a break. Eventually the sugar-straw breaks the insulin-camel’s back. Your hormone regulating all those carbs, aminos and fatty acids literally can’t anymore. Your triglycerides are going to shoot through the roof, putting you at a much higher risk for heart disease. Your energy levels are perpetually abysmal when sugar is a constant. We could keep going, but the point has been sharpened.

    Need more insight? Check out “That Sugar Film!”

    Like Uncle Joey from “Full House” would say; Cut. It. Out.

  4. Play to Your Strengths and Plan for Your Weaknesses. If you’ve already got some health hits lined up in your arsenal that you’re routinely stoked about, then keep those as highlighted mainstays! It’s a major health trend to see how varied and exotic we can make our meals but let’s be real… Sometimes a simple salad, chicken and rice, hearty soup, basic sandwich, or boring ol’ eggs and oatmeal (for a few examples of the delightfully mundane) are not only great fallbacks to keep you kicking butt, but sometimes paramount in maintaining your sanity. You’ve got a million decisions to make and projects to take on all the time. Stick to your strengths and old faithfuls when applicable.On the flipside, you must “plan for your weaknesses.” If you’re the type where a single serving of chips is “the entire bag” and a proper portion of ice cream is a pint then you should plan avoid having those things in your home. If you know, no matter how hard you wish upon a star, breakfast is not on the menu, then you should probably plan a meal replacement powder or smoothie instead. If your crux is lunch and all the fantastically scrumptious options near your work, then you should probably pack a lunch.

    Flex your strengths, nix your vices and come out on top every time.

  5. Have Healthy Back-Ups. The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. No matter how precise and motivated you are with your planning, Murphy’s law assures you somethingwill go wrong. It’s how we react to these hiccups that inevitably seals our fate of fortune which is why it’s good to have a safety net when your plan falls apart.Luckily, we’re alive at a time where there are a ton of health-focused frozen food options primed and ready to be your back-up. Another great methodology is figuring out which stores, restaurants, delis or cafés around you have options that fit your blueprint of intent for those times when you MUST stop somewhere for something quick. If you have those spots already orchestrated, then it takes the anxiety of the situation away while leaving you primed for prosperity.

Plan the work and work the plan. Happy grocery shopping!

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Health

What is Collagen and Where Can You Find it?

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We’ve been hearing about protein a lot these days. It seems like you can’t walk down any grocery aisle without seeing a product boasting the benefits of added protein from cereal to granola bars, and even cookies! But what about this one protein in particular — Collagen. You ever heard of it? Let’s learn more!

What is collagen?

Collagen is a compound made up of long chains of amino acids, just like all other proteins. It sounds super science-y, but if you’ve ever had jello salad at your Grandma’s Thanksgiving table, that’s basically the best way to understand collagen. Gelatin, the main ingredient in jello, forms from cooking and drying collagen. You can imagine that it takes on a similar role in our bodies as it does jello, to provide, our skin especially, with some plumpness and shine.

Collagen is the most common of the body’s proteins. It’s found in our body’s connective tissues, everywhere from our muscles, skin and bones to our digestive tracts and beyond. Sounds important. Now, remember when I said that collagen is composed of long chains of amino acids? Well, these amino acids are essential and not produced IN the body and therefore have to be consumed from OUTSIDE the body through our diet. Fortunately, we house quite an abundant amount of collagen in the skin, but as we age we tend to lose collagen resulting in such less desirable things like wrinkles, dry skin, and brittle hair or nails. So if you’re really starting to feel like your face is showing your age, consider your diet and how it’s contributing (or not) to collagen production. Keep reading for tips on how to get more collagen in your diet.

What does it do?

Besides just giving us radiant skin and silky smooth hair, hydrolyzed collagen (the broken down and more easily digestible form) has some serious health perks, like acting as an anti-inflammatory, aiding in digestion, or possibly even reducing joint pain — just to name a few. So how do you take advantage of these health benefits? It’s all about knowing what lifestyle choices help you versus hurt you. Things like age, too much sun, elevated weight, and drugs or alcohol actually suppress your body’s natural collagen production. On the other hand, eating a healthy, balanced diet, staying hydrated and limiting stress will only increase collagen production.

Where can you find it?

When it comes to age there’s nothing we can do to combat that, that’s why having a handle on the things we can control is so important. Consuming a diet rich in the collagen building blocks is a must, but the way you go about it is up to you. The most simple way to naturally boost your collagen is to consume foods high in vitamin C and antioxidants such as brightly colored fruits and vegetables and leafy greens. Another dietary approach is to make your own homemade bone broth — it’s generally inexpensive while providing a good source of collagen. Finally, supplemental collagen is always an option, but according to Dr. Mark Moyad, Director of Preventative and Alternative Medicine at the University of Michigan, the true health benefits of collagen supplements are preliminary and still being researched. That said, powdered collagen supplements can be easily added to smoothies or soups to potentially give you an extra boost. When searching for collagen supplements, organic and grass-fed animals are recommended.

What lifestyle choices do you currently make in your life that support collagen production? What could you do better? We’d love to hear from you!

Sources:

  1. How to Boost Collagen for Better Skin — Dr. Mercola
  2. You Asked: Should I Eat Collagen Powder? — Time Health
  3. Effect of Orally Administered Collagen Peptides from Bovine Bone on Skin Aging in Chronologically Aged Mice – Nutrients
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Exercise

Everything New Moms Need to Know Before Working Out After Baby

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Many new moms are searching for answers and ways to reclaim their pre-baby body. Do they really have to wait six weeks to exercise? Why? What are the best ways to get re-started? We know you’re eager. And we’re excited to help! But before you ease (emphasis on ease) back into a fitness routine, please be sure to consider the following things and all that they encompass.

Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day

Your body has undergone 9 months of incredible changes, including weight gain and hormonal shifts that may have you feeling as if you’re a house guest in your own skin. Becoming a mom is a long journey and you should not expect (nor should anyone else) to be back to your pre-pregnancy weight right away. In fact, some doctors would say if you are back to pre-pregnancy weight in less than six months following birth, your exercise and nutrition should be reevaluated.

The first six weeks following birth should be primarily focused on feeling good and finding a little alone time. Approach your exercise program with curiosity and without judgment. Forget charting your progress or setting weight loss or physical goals; simply find time to move and regain a bit of control over your schedule and your body.

Then, barring unforeseen complications, after six weeks you can begin making a plan. You should have a bit more structure in your life at this point, sleep is (hopefully!) more frequent, and your body should be close to fully healed. Now you can begin looking toward getting back to pre-pregnancy weight, restoring core function, and improving body image. But still, approach your program with a dose of humility and grace. It will take time; time to feel like your old self and time to look like your old self. Slow and steady will win the race.

Your Doctor Knows Best

Regardless of how you feel and how desperate you are to return to your non-maternity wear, listening to your doctor regarding post-partum exercise prescription is crucial. The most progressive advice suggests anything that doesn’t hurt, you can do. (This is based largely on your pre-pregnancy and pre-natal routines.) However, it’s important to consider giving yourself time and space to heal. Be honest at your follow-up appointments and respectful of the internal trauma that birth causes (whether vaginal or c-section delivery) when determining your plan.

In the immediate weeks following birth, contraindications to exercise include heavy bleeding, pain, or breast infection or abscess. If you had a c-section or a traumatic vaginal birth (deep tears requiring repair), pain is your ultimate guide. Breast discomfort is for real; if you’re experiencing engorgement, you should wait until this passes before starting or resuming exercise. Finally, if you are experiencing heavy urine leakage or pelvic pressure during exercise for more than a couple of weeks, you should consult a physician before continuing your workouts.

There’s More to Monitor

Whenever you do begin to exercise again, there are important things to monitor (in addition to that new beautiful life!):

  • Hydration Levels – Fluid intake should be high. Monitor the color of your urine to be sure you’re on target with your water intake; or it might be easier to remember you should drink enough that you feel like you need to use the restroom each time you feed the baby.
  • Baby WeightMonitor your baby’s weight gain as you begin to resume your physical fitness. The calories expended and/or eliminated on the nutrition side should not interfere with the expected weight gain for your child.
  • Fatigue – Fatigue is a reality for every new mom and not something you should try to “power through” to get a workout in. If you have to set an alarm to exercise, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. The same goes for skipping an afternoon nap. You might want to consider reducing duration and increasing frequency at this new stage. Sleep is more beneficial at this point!
  • Rest & Activity Cycles – Be sure to maintain a balance between these two items. Activity is important, but rest is too. Rest, such as spending time with your baby or relaxing alone, is as beneficial for your physical body as it is for your peace of mind.

Re-Prioritizing is Your New Normal

One of the best gifts you can give yourself now is embracing the fact life has changed. Being a mom is a wonderfully tough job, and while making time for yourself is critical, you will undoubtedly have competing interests forever more. Time management takes on a whole new meaning with a baby in the house. The number of chores and needs in the household change, finding time for your spouse and friends will shift, work schedules evolve, and though in the past you may have always found time for your exercise, there may be times when it simply doesn’t happen. While I’m not suggesting that as moms we stop putting our oxygen mask on first, I am suggesting that you give yourself a break! If a workout doesn’t happen, all is not lost. Avoid going down the self-defeating path of one missed workout leads to many. Your workouts may look and feel different, happen less frequently, be sporadic, or shorter. Analyze your new normal and make sure everything is working for you and your family. The quickest way to getting your body back is to set your mind right, first!

Read about more ways to reclaim your pre-baby body. 

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Anytime Fitness

217 Pounds Down And Still Transforming!

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Transformation takes time—and perseverance. Joe Scarmack certainly understands this; he weighed close to 500 pounds about eight years ago. Joe lost his young brother surprisingly, who weighed about 600 pounds, and then his mother less than two years later to diabetes. While grieving both he decided he didn’t want to lose his own life to the same issues, and started making healthier choices. Joe started with weight lifting and soon added cardio; then he adjusted his diet. Pounds began to melt away, and Joe felt better and better. Now many years into his lifestyle shift, Joe worked out more than 200 times in 2015 and has set an even higher goal for this year.

Follow Joe’s journey as he takes over the Anytime Fitness corporate Instagram account April 15-21, 2016! 

Joe_BeforeAfterJoe Scarmack, 42

From Farrell, PA | Married to Amanda

Gym: Hermitage, PA

Anytime Fitness Member since 2008

Trainer: Breanna Griffin

Favorite motivational quote: You get out what you put in.


Get to Know Joe

Primary Wellness Goal: “I don’t ever want to go back to being diabetic and want to better cope with disabilities I currently face.”

Struggling with… “The thought of going back to my old ways of eating with no way of stopping myself, or quitting on everything.”

Striving to… “Handle the cards I’ve been dealt in life and show others life doesn’t have to stop when dealing with any disability, whether physical or mental.”

Secondary Goal: “Work out 500 times this year. So far I’m ahead of schedule.”

People describe me as… “Motivational, inspiring, no quit, gym freak, go-getter”

Favorite piece of equipment: “Chest press. Personal best: 600 lbs, 3 reps.”

Least favorite exercise: “Elliptical”

Nutrition tip that’s worked for me: “Read the labels! If you don’t buy it, you won’t eat it. Single digits and ingredients you can pronounce are good things.”

Joe S weight lifting

I’d like to add: “I’ve been doing this for my brother and mother. Not going to die young, weighing 600 lbs like him. I won’t let diabetes slowly kill me like it did her. 217 lbs lost. Diabetes is gone but unfortunately, the damage stays. Such a mental battle every day to get up in the morning and face the world, but I know at the gym I am the world. I’m thankful I have a great wife that has supported me through all the ups and downs the past 8 years. I think she is more upset I get to buy new clothes every six months because everything keeps getting too big on me. I don’t know where the rest of the journey is going to take me, but I know I’m not looking back at where I’ve been.”

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