5 Benefits to 5am Workouts

By; Cati Davis CPT

There are few things better than starting off your day with an awesome workout. Cati, one of our 5am FIT Camp coaches personally loves to raise and shine at an early hour. Check out some reasons why she is such a big fan of the 5am workout!

  1. Build routine

We all know our body thrives off of routine. Waking up for a 5am workout can help you build routine. Having a set “appointment”  will help prevent hitting the snooze button in the mornings. and begin to head to the gym to get in your workout for the day. 

 

  1. More energy and focus for the day

When we exercise hormones known as endorphins are released.  These endorphins can trigger a positive feeling in your body, which can then lead to a great start to the work day. Working out helps clear your mind and set the standards for your day.

 

  1. Don’t skip it, dominate it

Have you ever scheduled a workout on your calendar for an evening after work? Sounds great at the time, right? That’s until, your boss asks you to stay late to finish a project, or better yet, co-workers ask if you want to do happy hour after work. Or maybe, your energy is depleted from the day, the couch is calling your name, and your favorite trashy tv show is on tonight.  Set the alarm a few minutes earlier in the morning to get that 5am workout in.  That way, if Suzie from 3 cubicles over wants to hang out, your schedule is free and your workout is already done for the day!

 

  1. Better night’s sleep

Back to Endorphins! When you exercise, your body excretes those energy boosting hormones.  Gaining that energy and trying to go to bed after a workout can cause for a hard time falling asleep and a restless night. This is where the 5 am workout comes into play. Your workout is done for the day and when 9 or 10 pm rolls around, your body is telling you to get some good rest for the night. This can also help build routine and make the morning a little easier to wake after a good night’s rest.

 

  1. Eating habits and hydration

Getting that 5 am workout in can help set healthy eating standards and adequate hydration for the day. Most likely you aren’t eating a strawberry filled glazed doughnut before or after  your morning run or heading to FIT Camp. You want to get a good meal that fuels your body for your day, not drag you down. You are also grabbing that bottle of water before leaving the house, which is a great way to start hydrating early in the day and continue it throughout  with water intake. Starting your day with a healthy balanced breakfast is going to help keep you going for the rest of the day with choosing better eating habits.

If you would like to make the change and be part of the #5amClub, we would love to have you! If you are not yet part of the Forward Fitness family, email Suzanne at Suzanne@ForwardFitnessSTL.com. She will be happy to get you set up to rock your 5am workouts!

Pecan Chicken

By: Suzanne Klaus RD, LD, CPT

I love this chicken dish. The pecans are a great source of healthy fat. They really give the chicken a great flavor and keep it juicy.

Ingredients

3 chicken breasts, boneless

8oz pecans

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp basil, dried

2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a Vitamix, Magic Bullet, or food process pulse the pecans until they are finely chopped. (There will be a portion that is almost a flour consistency.)

Place the pecans in a mixing bowl and ad the remaining ingredients minus the chicken. Mix together.

Place the chicken on a cookie sheet. (I line mine with aluminum foil lightly sprayed with oil.)

Coat the top of the chicken breast with the pecan mixture. (I find it easiest to use my hand and pat the mixture onto the chicken.)

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center.

Turn the oven to broil. Broil the pecan chicken for a few minutes. It really helps to bring out the pecan flavor. Do not leave the chicken unattended as it browns pretty quickly.

Enjoy! Let us know what you think when you try it.

Hydration and Flexibilty

By: Nick Lape CPT

Every one of us at one point has spent time in a science class of some kind. Which means we have all heard the fact that our bodies are made up of at least 70% water. We have water in our muscles, our connective tissues, our brain, and even our blood. That means our hydration status can affect all of these things. Headaches, fatigue, “brain fog,” are all side effects of dehydration. But, did you know that being chronically dehydrated can change our flexibility? Think of a sponge, when it doesn’t have water, it becomes hard, dried out, and doesn’t move well at all. Add water to it and guess what, it is now pliable, soft and absorbent. This is how our muscles react with water as well.

Recently I had the fortune of speaking with a licensed massage therapist, Johanna Mertensmeyer, about what it feels like when people are dehydrated. As a massage therapist, she explained to me that she can actually feel when a muscle has become a “dried sponge.” The muscle doesn’t move; it can’t release and remains ‘knotted’ or unworkable. She compares this to “massaging a brick wall.” Johanna, stated that these people more often than not, have major stress in their lives and an inability to relax.

Johanna’s advice to her clients is to drink half their body weight in ounces of water each day. Obviously, if you are more active you will need more fluids than if you aren’t an active person to replenish what you lose in sweat. A good way to tell if you are hydrated is by the color of your urine. A light yellow to clear color means you are hydrated, If it is dark yellow, you need more fluid. Johanna also likes to tell her clients to spend time breathing or even meditating during their day because the more water and better oxygen levels your body has, the more malleable your body can become bother during a massage session as well as a training session.

Now, what does this mean for your workouts. What happens if you are chronically dehydrated? I’ll bring you back to the sponge example. If you fail to hydrate properly, you “dry up.” Muscles fail to work. This has the possibility to result in you becoming very inflexible or immobile, somewhat like a dry sponge. And then comes the slippery slope of movement compensations. Because your muscles can’t move through a proper range of motion, with time these issues can only become worse.

We get so many questions about how water can truly effect someone’s workout and lifestyle. A quote from Johanna provides a simple answer, “Water has a similar effect on a plant that it has on a person; when you drink the proper amount, you awaken. Your body moves better and you just feel better.” It’s true. Our bodies aren’t made up of all of this water for no reason. It’s a true sign that without water and proper hydration with it, we can become stiff, immovable people. Once that begins to happen, we become the sponge I mentioned earlier, dried out and stiff. Stay hydrated! Your body needs it!!

Chocolate and Sea Salt Covered Coconut Flakes

By: Suzanne Klaus RD, LD, CPT

Ingredients

1/3 cup peanut butter, creamy

1/3 cup coconut oil

2 Tbsp honey

1 tsp vanila

1/2 cup cocoa powder

4 cups coconut flakes, unsweetened

Sea salt, to taste

 

Directions

In a microwave safe bowl mix together the peanut butter, coconut oil, honey, vanilla, and cocoa powder. Microwave for 45 seconds or until the mixture is melted and smooth.

Add the coconut flakes and fold into the peanut butter mixture. Once the coconut flakes are evenly coated, spoon out on an aluminum foil-lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt and  place the cookie sheet in the freezer for 15 minutes or until set. Serve immediately or place in an airtight container and store in the freezer until ready to serve.

Eggs and Chicken over Swiss Chard, Peppers, and Onions

By: Suzanne Doerries RD, LD, CPT

I must attribute this recipe to my sister. She actually introduced me to the combination of Swiss chard and eggs. It is a great way to get a high protein breakfast that has veggies and is a good source of vitamins A & C along with other nutrients.

Serving Size: 1

Ingredients

2 Swiss chard leaves

1 ½ Tbsp olive oil

1/8 onion, diced

¼ red pepper

1 garlic clove, minced

2 eggs

1/8 – ¼ avocado, diced (optional)

2 chicken sausage links (I used Applegate Naturals)

Directions

Cut the stem from 2 Swiss chard leaves dicing the stems and chopping the leaves into smaller pieces.

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard

Add the olive oil to a small sauce pan. Turn on low heat. Add the onion, Swiss chard stems, and pepper to the saucepan and cook stirring frequently. After a minute add the garlic and stir.

Add the Swiss chard leaves and cover with a lid. Cook for 3-5 minutes until the Swiss chard begins to wilt.

Remove the lid, allow the steam to clear, and then make 2 indentations for the eggs. Add one egg to each indentation. It helps to crack the egg in a separate bowl and then pour into the indentation.

Uncooked to Cooked Eggs

Before and after of the eggs.

Put the lid back on and cook for another 2-3 minutes. The yolk should still be runny, but the white cooked.

While the eggs are cooking, cook the sausage according to the package. Once cooked, cut into bite-size pieces.

Pour the contents of the saucepan onto a plate. Top with the avocado and chicken. Enjoy!

The finished product.

The finished product.

The nutrition information is approximate and may vary from dish to dish.

Calories: 395                     Carbs: 8 grams                  Protein: 22 grams             Fat: 31 grams

Pepper, Spinach, and Feta Crustless Quiche Cups

By; Suzanne Klaus RD, LD, CPT

I made this recipe with Teresa Johnson of Level Wellness a little over a  year ago. I have since made a few slight changes. These crustless quiches are very tasty and easy to make. If you make them on a Sunday, you can have breakfast ready for the week!

Crsutless QuichServings: 12 servings in a 12 cup muffin pan

Ingredients

9 eggs

1/4 cup yellow onion, chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 cup frozen spinach, thawed

4 oz crumbled feta cheese- optional

½ cup turkey sausage, cooked- optional

Avocado, to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin pans with cooking spray. Scramble eggs in bowl, pour evenly into muffin pans. Divide the Add chopped ingredients, meat, and cheese. Bake in oven until eggs have set, 14-16 minutes depending on muffin size.

If saving for later, cool on a cooling rack. Once completely cool store in the refrigerator in an air tight container.

Top with avocado right before enjoying, if desired.

Roasted Garlic Cauliflower

By: Suzanne Klaus RD, LD, CPT

This is one of my favorite roasted veggies. Some even say it tastes like popcorn.Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Recipe

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower florettes

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

Olive oil

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Placed cauliflower in a large bowl and add garlic, salt and pepper. Drizzle with just enough olive oil to lightly coat the cauliflower. Place on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil.

Bake for 30-35 minute. Cauliflower will be golden brown.

Serve immediately and enjoy.


Roasted Beets with a Grapefruit Balsamic Reduction

By: Suzanne Klaus RD, LD, CPT

I used to think I didn’t like beets. All I knew growing up were the canned ones. I kept seeing them in restaurants so they were growing on me. Not to mention, my husband loves them. I decided to give roasted beets a try one night when we were dinning out and to my surprise I really enjoyed them. I then thought I should try to make beets at home. I happen to have a grapefruit I needed to use and thus created this recipe. Give it a try, I think you will enjoy it!

Roasted Beet Recipe

Ingredients

5-6 small-medium beets, peeled and diced

1 onion, cut into large strips

Juice of 1 grapefruit

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Olive oil

Thyme

Salt

Pepper

Directions

Cutting BeetsPreheat the oven to 400°F.

Place the beets and onions in a mixing bowl and drizzle with just enough olive oil to coat the beets. Add salt, pepper, and thyme (1-2 tsp) to taste and mix.

Make 2 pieces of aluminum foil the size of your baking pan and fold each in half.

Divide the onion and beet mixture in half and make two foil packets. Drizzle with 2 tsp of grapefruit juice in each packet, seal packet, and place in oven.

Cook for 30 minutes and then open the packet and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes or until beets are tender.

Meanwhile, pour the  remaining grapefruit juice a small skillet. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook over low heat stirring frequently. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the sauce has been reduced and is thickened.

Drizzle the beets with the reduction and serve immediately.

I Just Kept Running…

By: Cati Davis CPT

I was never a runner growing up, in fact, I despised running. I was very active in sports, but was never interested in running. I didn’t understand people that could just lace up their shoes and hit the pavement. As I got older,  I wanted something active that I could do outdoors and that was inexpensive. The one thing that came to mind was the one thing that I never enjoyed doing.

It was a spring morning and perfect weather so I decided to lace up my tennies and go. Well, easier said than done. My “go” lasted about 30 seconds and I found myself crippled over and out of breath. This was not what I had in mind. I’m pretty sure I did not look anything like the people I have seen running on the streets, looking graceful as ever and not panting from being out of breath. I am someone who doesn’t give up easily. I was out there every morning, rain or shine, hating every minute of walking then running. Soon to find myself running a longer period of time and walking less. I eventually got myself to the point where I could run one mile comfortably and actually find myself enjoying it while looking at the scenery around me and not to mention, feeling amazing after the run was over.  

Over the years, I was able to meet other people that enjoyed running as well and we would meet for weekend runs. Soon enough, I was signing myself up for my first run, which just so happened to be the St. Patrick’s Day Run. I set a goal for my first run, which was to not stop the entire run until I reached the finish line. I started the race and came to 3 miles, realizing that it was actually a 5 mile run and not a 5k. I ended up stopping one time through that 5 mile run. I was hard on myself and got a little down that I stopped during the run to break, but this  is exactly what kept me going. I pushed myself farther and ended up signing myself up for another run, then another, eventually signing up for a 10k, then making the big step and training myself for a half marathon. Running started to turn into a way for me to distress and and clear my mind, but having fun while I do it.

My wardrobe may consist of too many race shirts to count, but my heart is filled with memories of each and every run. Not every run was the same. There were days where I went out there and gave it my all and there were days where I didn’t feel like running at all, but would always make the best of it. But,  the most rewarding thing of all was to think of why I signed myself up for the run. Many of the runs are formed to help raise money for certain funds. Susan G. Komen, Backstoppers, Sarcoma, and many more. It is the most amazing feeling to know that the money you donated for the run was going to help others. What is 30, 40, or 60 minutes out of your day to be active and run for others that may not be able to?

I continue to run a few times a week. It may only be a short distance, but the feeling after the run keeps me going back for more. I started as a person who was not a fan at all of running and turned it into something that I now look forward to. By no means am I fast, but I set goals for myself while still having fun and enjoying what I do.

Are YOU interested in walking/running? Come join us for Saturday noon runs!! Running Forward into Fitness is here and we are doing group runs and/or walks. Whether you want to get one more day of activity or train for an event, this group is for you. Forward Fitness will be running in multiple races throughout the year. The St. Patty’s Day Run on March 11th and the GO! St. Louis (relay and/or 5K) on April 8th/9th will be the first ones.

If you are already an active runner or walker, come join us! If you aren’t someone who enjoys to run, come walk. Don’t like to wake up early for those morning runs or walks? Sleep in and meet us at noon on Saturdays. The more the merrier. Maybe you were never a runner, but would like to learn more and learn the correct form and training to get yourself started. Don’t want to sign up for the upcoming runs, that’s fine too, just come join us for the noon run or even get a group together to support the Forward Fitness family as they run or walk.

From now until the Go! St. Louis, we are meeting Saturdays at noon at Forward Fitness. We will have a warm up and then start training by doing some walking and running to help build endurance to get us on the right track for some good ole’ St. Louis runs. Bring the appropriate running/walking clothes and shoes so we can have some fun!

Not Your Average Warm Up

By: Nick Lape

I can remember my first ever P.E. coach. Her name was Coach Rowan. Every single day from Kindergarten all the way through 6th grade, I did the same warm up stretches. The sit and reach stretch was a good one back then. Oh, and the shoulder stretch where you reach behind your head and across your body was a staple back then. Luckily for us and everyone else that we train, information has drastically changed and we really don’t use those anymore, at least not in the same ways. As a matter of fact, there are very few movements where we are trying to lengthen muscles as far as we can in any warm up. Why is that?

Well, first and foremost, stretching anything cold is just not a great idea. Have you ever taken a steak out of the freezer and tried to pull it apart? If you were to do that, what happens? It just breaks apart right, like, literally right in half. Think of that as a muscle that hasn’t been warmed up. When you come to the gym, you may stretch because you feel like you need to. Does this mean we don’t want to stretch any muscles? No. It just means there are different ways that we can activate muscles with targeted movements.

In our warm ups, we are simply trying to get the core body temperature to rise so we are not working with “frozen meat.” Stretching does have a purpose in activation, but it’s really the stretch reflex. Now I could get scientific on you and start talking about the Golgi Tendon Apparatus and its function in a muscle cell, but instead I’m just going to say that stretching doesn’t create the best activation of the muscle. There are so many other movements that can prepare a muscle, even create flexibility without stretching.

When you participate in a warm up at Forward Fitness, you move through what we like to call a “movement matrix.” You start on your back, move to your stomach, then to “all fours,” up to the knees, and finally to a standing position. Through these positions, we activate muscles. We require muscles to turn on as opposed to just stretch. This allows blood to flow to the muscle and can actually create better flexibility and mobility just from warming up the tissue.

Through every position, form the ground to standing, you may also notice that we use a flexibility/mobility exercise followed by a stability/ strengthening exercise. We purposefully do this to increase the performance of a certain muscle group or area of the body. An example would be doing the side lying windmill movement on the floor, combined with a dying bug movement pattern. Here you get mobility with the side lying windmill, followed by stability with the dying bug. This allows us to wake up the body through motion as opposed to just aimlessly stretching and saying, “Alright, I’m ready to go!”

As much as I enjoyed my elementary P.E. class and Coach Rowan, things have changed. I look back and realize, there could have been so much more going on in those warm ups. Essentially, they could have been not only way more effective, but way more fun. I mean, let’s be honest, what child, heck, what adult, truly wants to sit around and just stretch? I know I don’t. That’s why a truly good warm up that creates heat and activates muscles and areas of the body properly is far more than an average stretching routine. Get your body moving during your warm up. After all it is called a WARM up.