Five Tips to Stay Healthy this Summer

By: Suzanne Doerries RD, LD, CPT

Attend the summer BBQs, but leave the extra weight behind.

Attend the summer BBQs, but leave the extra weight behind.

BBQs, pool parties, bonfires, vacations, and trips to the local ice cream parlor can become quite frequent during the summer. All of these activities can make it easy to overeat or choose foods that will not help us reach our goals on a more frequent basis.

Listen to your Hunger Satisfaction Scale. I can’t emphasize how important this is. If you are in tune with your body’s hunger scale, you will know if you are physically hungry or if you want to eat out of boredom, stress, social pressure, happiness, sadness, or anger. This is a scale from one to 10. If you rate yourself a one that means you are starving. A 10 means you are stuffed and never want to think about food again. You are physically uncomfortable due to the amount of food consumed. Three is physically hungry. Six is physically satisfied. The bottom line is: eat when you are physically hungry and stop when you are physically satisfied. If you wait to eat until you are starving unhealthy food choices and overeating become common. Eating when you are physically hungry instead of starving will allow you to be more in control of your food choices. It will also allow you to pay more attention to your body and stop when you are physically satisfied verses stuffed. Use this all the time, but especially when put in social situations surrounding food.

Wait to go back for seconds. It takes your body 15-20 minutes to catch up to what you just put in it. If you go back for seconds immediately you will probably overeat. Eating slowly can give your body some time to catch up to what you are putting in it.

Make a plate. It never fails, when you are at a BBQ there is an overwhelming amount of food. It can be easy to stand at the appetizer table and take down a bowl of buffalo dip and chips. Before you know it you are stuffed, but still eat dinner and dessert. To avoid this, make a plate keeping your hunger signals in mind. Try to make half your plate veggies and a quarter protein. Sit at a table to enjoy your plate. If you decided you it is going to be a rare occasion where you indulge in a sweet treat or salty snack make it part of that part and keep your hunger signals in mind.

Drink water. If you are going to have an alcoholic beverage or beverage with added sugar, drink one glass of water before going to get a refill. This will help to decrease your alcohol intake and/or calories coming from beverages. These are empty calories that are not nourishing your body in a positive manner.

Don’t skip your workouts. With the nice weather and enticing pools, summer can be an easy time to put the gym on the back burner. However, one missed week can easily lead to a second missed week and so on. Set your schedule up for success. If you know you are not going to work out after work, schedule your training sessions for the morning or lunch time. If you are on vacation and you will not be active or walking countless miles around a new city ask your trainer to write you a workout that you can do in your hotel.

Which of these five tips are you already doing? Which one will you add to your next summer event?

Level it Down!

By: Nick Lape ACSM, FMS

Don’t risk it, level it down!

We love it when people come to the studio ready to work and ready to put all their effort into their training session. We love the dedication and the desire to improve. However, when that effort and dedication is combined with a lack of body awareness, lack of knowledge of form, and/or fatigue it can turn it into a bad thing. This is where form begins to fail or was never there in the first place. The moment that bad form happens, if it can’t be fixed it right away, taking a step down and moving backwards to reteach yourself a movement or lock in good form could actually allow you to get better results. No matter what we read or what we see on TV leveling down or performing a regressed version of a movement is NEVER a bad thing.

Like I mentioned, when someone works as hard as they can in a workout, form can start to go to the wayside. When this happens, it really doesn’t matter who it is that is doing the work or attempting the movement, when the body starts to fail at a movement it is time for a change. This is where forgetting your pride and adding a little bit of knowledge can come in handy. Level it down!!! Take the time to do it right and you will be SOOO much better for it. Consistently doing exercises in poor form just to pump out another rep or to protect your pride can be disastrous to your body. However, if you level down at the appropriate time you can prevent injuries and get better results. Leveling down an exercise goes so much farther than just physical aspect.

One experiment I like to do with my clients is a quick one. I’ll give you 5 seconds to think about the worst thing that happened to you in the last 48 hours, GO!!! Ok, now think about the best thing that happened to you in the last 48 hours, 5 seconds, GO!!! I have found that people can recall a bad memory faster and in more detail in 5 seconds than they can a good one. I’m not going to get all scientific, but think about that. What do you think happens when you attempt an exercise in poor form? Your brain remembers it, and it can become that much more difficult to re learn the proper version. These ‘bad reps’ are learned when we have either not learned properly or we have become fatigued during the back half of a workout.

In the same sense, doing an exercise improperly can in fact mean the difference between a quality life and painful one or a lack of results or one filled with great results. Even some of the strongest people I know lessen the weight they lift when they know it doesn’t feel right. The difference between them and the person doing that push up that looks like it may actually be killing them is the fact that they know taking a step back at that moment will allow them to go farther in the end. We are all about pushing yourself and doing your best at each training session. To us that means working your hardest while keeping good form through the entire training session.

Mandatory Monday

By: Mike Klaus RKC, FMS

MondayWhat is your opinion of Monday? It is typically seen as the worst day of the week, the day most people dread. However, there are some who see Mondays as a springboard start to a productive and successful week. No matter what your profession is, you have an option to stew in misery or make the very best out of each day and opportunity. The same is true with health and fitness. Imagine the difference in your week if you do or do not workout on Monday. Are you more likely to get more workouts in? How would you sleep that week? What about your food choices? Would your mood be better?

For the most part, gyms are full on Mondays. This is a good thing! These are people who are getting a jump start on their week. This is a practice I whole heartedly believe in. Health and fitness does not happen overnight, it is a process. The work has to be put in and like anything else, getting started is the key. There are many benefits to making your Monday workout “mandatory.” Here are my top 5 reasons why you MUST train on Monday!

  1. You are more likely to train throughout the week. After starting your week with a productive workout, odds are you will continue that trend.
  2. Sleep improves. Mondays are usually packed with tasks. Having 45 minutes to an hour in a workout where you don’t think about work or other stressors will help to ease your mind. You will also be physically tired and in need of recovery.
  3. Nutrition will more likely be a priority. It has been proven in studies that people who work out make more of an effort to eat better. Are you more likely to choose fettuccini alfredo and rolls for dinner or grilled chicken with roasted veggies and goat cheese and beet salad?
  4. Your mood improves. Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins make you feel good. A morning workout can start your day off right. An evening workout can help you burn off steam. Also, in my opinion it is a great tool to help with depression or anger. Do yourself and everybody the favor of talking your aggression out on the iron!
  5. Erase a weekend that was less than optimal for your health. Did you put down a couple of cocktails? Were queso dip and chips  on the menu for dinner? Work that wild or lazy weekend off!

Make your Monday workout mandatory and set yourself up for success the rest of the week!

Stop Winking at Me

By: Nick Lape ACSM, FMS

Every person that I know wants to have a glorious back side. Why? Because, they all want to look great in their favorite pair of jeans. They want to know how people like Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez do it! So they search online and find the “best” articles they can on how to do the perfect squat. And what do you know, everyone starts squatting to get a little lift behind them. Here is the problem: most people either don’t squat down far enough OR they squat too far. Yes, there is such a thing as too far, especially when talking about a healthy spine. This is where we get what most fitness professionals call the ‘Butt Wink.’

No, no. Don’t be flattered. This isn’t the kind of wink that the guy or girl from across the bar gives you that makes your heart flutter. This is the kind of wink that can leave your lower back debilitated for quite some time. It occurs in your hips when you have gone past a certain range of motion in your squat. This ‘winking’ is when you drop too far into your squat and your hips tuck under causing stress on the disks in your lower spine. Doesn’t sound too fun, does it? If you answered “not at all” then you would be correct. Now the question is how do we fix it?

As we have all heard in the past, the key to fixing any issue is addressing what the problem might be. When talking about ‘Butt Wink’ there can be quite a few underlying causes, but for the sake of time, I’m going to only talk about the two most common causes. These two are tightness in the hip flexors (front of the hips) and a weak core that can’t help hold you upright. More often than not, when these two things begin to be corrected, squat form becomes better.

Now here’s how we can correct it. When hip flexors are tight, they can keep a person from being able to sit back into their squat, keep the weight in their heels, and ultimately prevent the muscles in their backside from engaging. We can remedy this by simply adding a heel lift. Squat with your heels on a pair of 10 pound plates and you will see a difference. The weights will displace your weight forward and allow you to lean back farther. It’s a simple fix. Now, you might ask, what happens when my core doesn’t turn on? Luckily, it’s another simple fix.  When your abs don’t turn on in your squat, it will have the same effect as tight hip flexors: you will lean forward. In order to get the core to engage, hold a weight in front of your body instead of behind your neck. This will not only act as a counter balance to make you sit back farther but your core will turn on as well.

Adding these two simple things to your squat can be a HUGE game changer. It can greatly increase the range of motion in your squat and allow you to get deeper without that ‘Butt Wink’. Will they keep you from ever winking again? No. Even while using these tools it is highly recommended to stand sideways to a mirror and watch your hips as you go down. If your hips tuck or ‘wink’ you have simply gone too far. My advice is to stop just before that happens. Stopping at that end range and adding these tools to your squat will keep you healthy and build that beautiful backside you’ve always wanted, or just use them to watch your squat numbers increase!

10 Ways to Get More Veggies!

By: Suzanne Doerries RD, LD

VeggiesWe have all been told to eat our veggies as a child. Some may have heard, “No dessert until you eat your green beans.” For others, “Clean your plate. There are starving kids in China.” was more common. Well your parents may have been on to something! Veggies are full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber! A higher intake of veggies (and fruit) has even been associated with a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, certain types of cancer, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.  A great goal is to make half your plate veggies at every meal. I am not talking about the giant plates that can be found today, but the smaller dinner plates that can be comparable to some salad plates. If you are having a dish that has veggies mixed it that works too. As long as those veggies would take up about half your plate if you separated them out, you are good to go!

Adding veggies to every meal can seem like a daunting task, but it can be pretty easy. When choosing your veggies for the week, try to include a variety of colors. This will insure you are getting a variety of nutrients. If you find it hard to get veggies with every meal try some of these tips below!

  1. Have veggies in your house. If you don’t buy them, you will not eat them. Buying veggies that are in season will help with price and they will also taste the best! See what veggies are in season.
  2. If you are purchasing veggies that do not have a long shelf life, eat those at the beginning of the week and save your carrots and celery for the end of the week. You could also go to the store twice a week. I find that this is what a majority of my clients like to do.
  3. Make sure the veggies you are going to eat are ready for consumption. If you are going to have sliced peppers and hummus, but the pepper still needs to be cut and washed the chances of you still having that will drastically decrease.
  4. Add veggies to your eggs. Peppers, onions, mushrooms, and spinach are quite tasty in eggs. If you missed the crustless quiche recipe a few weeks ago be sure to check it out.
  5. Add them to a smoothie. This works great with spinach and kale! Start with spinach; it blends right in and you probably won’t even taste it.
  6. Make them your staple side dish. Carrots, celery, or peppers with hummus is great! Celery with nut butter is another good one for packed lunches. Baked asparagus, roasted beets, kale salad, or fermented coleslaw are some great dinner options.
  7. Replace your chips with veggies. Peppers, carrots, beets, and other veggies will give your body more nutrients than chips. You can even try kale chips. They are easy to make and delicious!
  8. Replace the tortilla or bread with a lettuce, Swiss chard, or collard green leaf. If using a bitter leaf like the collard green blanch it first. This will take out the bitterness and create a nice texture for the wrap.
  9. When eating out, swap French fries for a side salad or veggie. I know it is tempting, but veggies give your body so many more nutrients than the French fries.
  10. Be adventurous and try a new veggie. You can even try ones you didn’t like as a child. Tastes change. In my opinion, canned veggies taste a lot different than fresh veggies. Who knows, you may find a new favorite food!

Which step are you going to take to increase your veggies? They can be easy to overlook, but are crucial to your health!

Spring Forward with Fitness BBQ Celebration!

Last week we announced the winners of our Spring Forward with Fitness Challenge at our BBQ. The challenge was based of percent inches lost around the waist and hips. We were so excited to see everyone’s results.  Not only could you tell people lost inches, but their attitude toward health, fitness, and their self changed.   After totaling everyone’s results, 44 inches were lost among the group in the waist and hips and 60 inches overall. That is five feet!

Congrats Kelly and Lisa!

Congrats Kelly and Lisa!

Kelly Williams took first place and $1,000 with 6.9% inches lost around her waist and hips! She lost 17.6 pounds, 10.5 total inches, with 6.5 of those being from the waist and hips. Kelly came in with a focus. You could tell she had made up her mind to make a change for herself. She came to the weekly nutrition classes and gave some great input. She was a regular to the 6am classes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and usually added a weekend workout. Keep up the awesome work!

Lisa Bailey lost 5.5% inches around her waist and hips and was crowned second winning $600. Lisa has made so many great changes especially with her mindset. She figured out what works for her and how to frame things in a positive manner. This is so important when making changes that you want to last. Despite an extremely busy time in her life, she made time for workouts, nutrition, and herself. Way to go Lisa!

Laura Williams won $400 in third place losing 5.1% inches. She is someone who gives each workout her all. If you give her a heavier weight she doesn’t complain. She enjoys the challenge. She planned workouts around her 12 hour shifts and attended the nutrition classes she could. She made her health a priority. Congrats on your success! We wish we could have taken your picture at the BBQ, but understand those 12-hour shifts.

Congrats on your success!

Congrats on your success!

Thanks to everyone who came out to the BBQ! A special thanks and congratulations to those who decided to make a change and did the Spring Forward with Fitness Challenge. Even though only three people received cash prizes, everyone made an improvement!

No More Negative Self Talk

By: Nick Lape ACSM, FMS

Happiness concept.A few months ago if you would have said, “Nick, I think that there is a bit too much negativity in your life,” I probably would have argued with you and came back with something like, “No I don’t I just have a lot of stress in my life right now.” And then, I would have kept on living the way I was. In all reality you would have been exactly right. This is actually the case for most people when they stop and think about it for a second. We often forget that even though we say, “Oh, I don’t care what other people think or say about me,” we often tell ourselves what is wrong in our lives without even voicing a word of it. We think, “Why do all the bad things happen to me?” “Why can’t I get the job I want?” “Why am I not smart enough?”  This is what I, and a good number of other people such as Tony Robbins, would call Negative Self Talk.

Many times in our lives we think that the reason we can’t succeed in our goals is because of some sort of external source. Someone has said to you that you can’t. You don’t have some sort of training that would allow you to know how to do something. You physically feel that you can’t. The reasons can go on and on with this merry-go-round of not believing in ourselves. But, that is exactly it. WE believe it. We internalize these statements and actions see them as truth in our life. What if we said, “No, I will not believe that.” Or “How can I be successful today. That is all it takes to begin to turn things around.

Now, I said, “begin.” I use this word because it takes way more than one self-empowering statement to turn things around. Think of positive thinking as a muscle in your brain. You need to build that muscle. If you go to the gym and lift a 5 pound weight once a week, do you expect to get results? No! It is the same with positive thinking. You must do it on a consistent basis to get results. Ask yourself empowering questions every day, multiple times a day. How can I do that? Where can I find the answer? What do I need to do to accomplish my goal? What am I thankful for? What am I excited about today? If your brain is focusing on finding the answer to these empowering questions it will not have to for the negativity. Imagine all the possibilities when you let go of negative self-talk and ask yourself positive questions.

If I’m being honest, we all live in a world full of negativity. It’s a can be a constant battle some days. There will DEFINITELY be more than just one time per day, per hour, even per minute that we are faced with the choice of saying I can or I can’t. However, hitting that first test head on with a, “No, that isn’t going to be me today,” or “How am I going to succeed today?” can start a wild fire in your mind and fuel more empowering thoughts. It will take some work, but taking action and controlling your own mind can turn conscious effort of positivity into subconscious reaction. That is where the fun starts.

If you know that you tend to doubt yourself start paying attention to it. See how it makes you feel. If you have never thought about it, start thinking about your actions and interactions with those around you as well as the way you talk to yourself. How do you feel? How do they make you feel? Why do you feel that way? Being in charge of your thoughts is the first step to success. Whether it is in weight loss, job advancement, relationships, or any other trial that gets set in front of you, getting rid of that Negative Self Talk is the first step in achieving even your hardest goals.

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Coach K of the Duke Blue Devils: “Doubt, kills more dreams than Failure ever will.”

Warm It Up and Cool It Down

Nick Lape ACSM, FMS

Beautiful woman doing stretching exerciseAs far back as just about anyone can remember, especially in places like your elementary school P.E. class, we have been taught to warm up before activities were done. It wasn’t long after that we started learning about something called a cool down. It is no different now than it was 15, 20, or even 30 years ago. They are absolutely essential parts of making sure that your body is ready for what you are about to put it through and then ready to recover afterwards.

 We all remember having that one teacher who made sure you stretched before the class started. A classic example would be the hurdle, or runner’s stretch. And while stretching does have its place, we have come a long way from static stretching. Nowadays we know that using dynamic movement is probably the biggest key to unlocking the body before strength training, and even cardiovascular training. If I had a dollar for every person that I’ve seen not warm up and say, “Eh, I’ll be fine,” and then ‘tweaked’ something in that workout, I would have, well, a lot more money than I do now.

One part that some people don’t understand isn’t so much the fact that you are moving your body through ranges of motion, but the fact that you are connecting your brain neurologically to the different joints, bones, and tissues involved in each movement. If your brain is asleep, especially you morning gym goers, it is imperative to make sure that you wake it up with dynamic movement patterns before you start adding large amounts of weight.

There is always one question that goes along with the whole ‘brain’ explanation. Why? The best explanation that I have is to think about when you first roll out of bed. Is the first thing you think of doing a deadlift or stretching REAL big to get your body going? I highly doubt it. If you didn’t stretch, you wouldn’t break up connective tissues that get stiff while you sleep. Same thing goes for a workout. If the first thing you think of when you get to the gym is doing heavy deadlifts and nothing else you set yourself up for failure.

The second part of this is the cool down. The same way you get your body warmed up is almost the same way you want to cool down. Taking your body through some very low intensity dynamic movements and breathing patterns is perfect for getting your heart rate down. Adding some soft tissue work to the mix can help with relaxing any muscles that feel a little tense. Possibly the most important part of the cool down is the breathing though. Again, it goes back to the brain and making sure that you are taking your body out of that heightened state in order to start the recovery period.

Not doing either of these things and rushing into and out of a workout can actually end up being a recipe for disaster. Some people think that saying you could get hurt is just a way to scare them into warming up and cooling down. These are the same people that see it as a waste of time. I’ll also bet that most of these people don’t see the results they wish they could have. Why? (There’s that question again.) When the body is in a heightened state and hasn’t been properly warmed up or cooled down, you are in this constant state of flight or flight, which leads to prolonged recovery periods, plateaus and other not so fun gym terms. Do yourself a favor, warm up before and cool down after. Your brain and body will thank you, and you may just see more and better results than you did when you weren’t doing those things.

Three Fruits/Veggies to Try This Spring

By: Suzanne Doerries RD, LD

Spring is here! As a dietitian I always think about all the delicious fruits and vegetables that come with the warmer weather. Once summer hits berries, basil, apples and other tasty produce will be ready to enjoy. However, some people forget about the veggies that are in season during spring. I choose three items that I thought people might not make at home on a regular basis. I hope you will enjoy the info and recipes.


SelectArtichoke Cradled in Hands

Choose artichoke heads with tightly closed leaves. The artichoke should be heavy for its size


Place artichokes in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to one week.


Roasted Artichoke with Lemon and Garlic

Grilled Artichokes


Artichoke is a good source of vitamin C. magnesium, dietary fiber, and potassium. It also contains the flavonoid silymarin that is thought to help with cholesterol levels and promote liver health.




Choose bright green asparagus with tips that are closed, compact, and firm.


It is best to keep fresh asparagus moist until use. If you are not going to use it the same day you buy it, trim a little of the bottom off and store upright in a container with a little water. For longer storage, wrap the ends in a damp paper towel and store in a plastic bag in the crisper section of the refrigerator. Asparagus will usually last 4-5 days in your refrigerator.


Strawberry Asparagus Salad (I skip the dressing from this recipe and just do balsamic vinegar and olive oil. It is a lot less sugar! I even use almonds that do not have sugar on them.)

Roasted Balsamic and Garlic Asparagus


Asparagus is a great source of vitamin C, folic acid, B6 and thiamine. It is high in glutathione, an antioxidant that helps to protect cells from damage.




Choose kiwi, otherwise known as Chinese gooseberries that are unblemished a little fuzzy. Ripe kiwi should give slightly to pressure. If you purchase a kiwi that is firm you can ripen it in a brown paper bag on the counter. Be sure to check daily for ripeness.


Kiwi can be stored for days on the counter or for up to six weeks in the refrigerator.


Great in fruit salads, also try the recipes below:

Kiwi and Cucumber Salad

Charred Jalopeno, Kiwi, & Cucumber Salsa (Great with kale chips)


Kiwi is an excellent source of vitamin C, in fact it is thought to have the highest vitamin C content of any fruit. It is also a great source of vitamin E, potassium, and dietary fiber.

Recovery: Fitness that Doesn’t Come from a Gym

By: Nick Lape

Time to Recover - ClockJust about every person that I meet asks me what I do for a living. After I tell them I am a trainer, they all respond with what they are currently doing at the gym. More often than not I hear something similar to, “Nick, I just started a weight training program. I work out like 5 or 6 times a week and I hit ALL my muscles every day. I love how sore I’m getting BUT, I can’t seem to lose any more weight or get any stronger. How can I change things up?” When I ask them how much water they are drinking or how many hours of sleep they are getting on average, a huge look of surprise overtakes their face. Many people fail to realize that recovery outside of the gym is just as important, if not more important than their training inside the gym.

The number one thing that seems to be over looked in a training program is the rest or recovery phases. Without these, you will hit plateaus. Fat loss will begin to slow and strength gains will stop happening. You will be stuck because your brain and body are on overload. They don’t want you to do any more. You might tell it to push harder, but at some point your body will say “No.” It will worry more about surviving in this state of overload than losing weight or building muscle. It won’t matter how much harder you push yourself at this point, your body won’t progress until it has a chance to recover. Then you will be back at square one asking someone what to change.

In all honesty, if you are looking to change something there is a good chance that it has nothing to do with the gym. It is something that I personally tell people all the time. Most of your strength and physique changes happen in your kitchen and while lying in your bed, when your internal processes are hard at work. An example of just one of these processes is the release of Human Growth Hormone that helps repair our body as we sleep. All you did with your workout is shock these systems into working more efficiently. If you aren’t getting enough sleep or your diet isn’t feeding your metabolism the way it should, you may as well just concede to your plateau. It won’t be going anywhere for a while.

Recovery, though you may not want to, could mean taking a day off or the gym and just foam rolling or breathing silently. It could also mean adding more veggies, water, and protein and taking out sugar and processed foods. Maybe it means turning off the TV an hour earlier and getting an extra hour of sleep in.  Everyone is different. Everyone will react differently to changes that they make. Plateauing is a common sign of overtraining. That means TOO MUCH training. Change things outside of the gym first and then worry about the next phase of your training.