General Fitness, Self Care, Workouts

5 Practical Health and Fitness Tips for New Moms

Whether you’re a seasoned mama, a brand new parent, or expecting a bundle of joy, you know (or will soon find out!) that motherhood, while a labor of love, is a full-time job. Especially on the first go-around, new moms are bound to encounter several challenges — from running on very little sleep to finding time for self-care. But with plenty of mindfulness and a little support, you’ll also discover that the strength to overcome the hurdles is right there within you!

You likely spent a good deal of effort optimizing your health throughout your pregnancy. When your baby’s health depends on it, there’s an extra boost of motivation. However, after your baby arrives, it’s just as important to follow a personal health and fitness regimen for your own sake. The flight attendant’s script before every plane take-off also happens to offer wise life advice: Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others. Here’s how you can achieve it.

1. Don’t overcommit. Set goals within your reach and take baby steps toward each milestone. If you know you can’t swing a 1-hour gym session every day, start small by committing to three 45-minute workouts each week, such as a group boot camp class to keep you accountable. Ultimately, you simply want to get your feet moving, even if it’s a quick stroll on your favorite trail with baby and stroller in tow. If your little one is napping and you can’t get out of the house, bring the exercise to you! Try some yoga at home or a fun workout DVD in your living room.

2. Ask for help! Sometimes we all need a helping hand, and there is no shame in asking for it. This is especially true when you are a new mother adapting to a more demanding schedule. Ask a trusted family member, friend, or neighbor for help with childcare on a day when you could really use a brisk nature walk to clear your mind and get your blood pumping. You may also consider arranging a babysitting swap with your other parent friends. You’ll be happier and healthier when you tap into your support system.

3. Make a plan. While we all know life doesn’t always go according to plan (especially when young children are in the mix), it helps to make a weekly checklist you can reference for guidance when things get hectic. Leave space for some workout time and pat yourself on the back as you tick off each completed exercise session. Track your progress and make a game of improving your results each week.

4. Exercise early. Some of us aren’t morning people. However, when schedules are busting at the seams, early morning is often the best time to squeeze in some exercise or “me time” before other obligations stand in the way. If possible, do this before your spouse or partner leaves the house, or arrange for childcare.

5. Go easy on yourself. There will be days when the unexpected happens. Remember to go easy on yourself if you miss a scheduled workout. If you miss a day, just keep on truckin’.

How to Find a Workout Modality You Actually Enjoy

One of the most challenging aspects of committing to an exercise regimen can be finding one you enjoy. If your current workout modality doesn’t fuel you, or if you find it more frustrating or boring than rewarding, it can be that much more tempting to let your goals fall by the wayside — especially in the initial stages before you start to notice concrete results.

If you are committing to boosting your health and improving your fitness, start by spending some time experimenting to determine what forms of exercise and workout modalities best fit your preferences and lifestyle. Motivation can sometimes be hard to come by, so if you’re struggling to kickstart your fitness journey, try working out in a group environment where other people can provide you with support.

What Do You Want from Your Workout?

Everyone has a different lifestyle with varying comfort levels. What are your personal fitness goals? For instance, are you hoping to increase cardio for heart health, supplement a healthy diet with regular activity, or build muscle tone? Do you prefer competitive activities, such as handball or soccer, or do you prefer a more collaborative workout environment, such as a group class? It’s important to understand your own goals and motivations, and there is no problem with pursuing realistic, gradual milestones.

Set bite-sized, short-term objectives to help push you toward your longer-term ones. Each day on your feet is another step toward your optimal health. Choosing exercises that are fun, that you look forward to each day, is important in achieving these steps. The more you enjoy your workout, the easier it will be to reach concrete goals. Eventually you can consider an integrated approach that focuses on major points such as flexibility, endurance, joint health, muscle-building, cardio, and more.

Find the Right Program and Commit to It!

One of the most important things you can do is find ways to increase accountability in order to fully commit to an exercise program. Signing up for a multi-week class is one especially effective way to do this.

If you’re looking for a fitness program that will help you reach your fitness goals in a fun, social environment, consider becoming a Sync Fitness member with access to our weekly boot camp courses. We also offer an 8-week program that includes emotional and social support from other women: our Accountability Club! This is a great option for those who seek additional motivation and encouragement within a distinct timeline. Contact us today — we love helping fellow fitness warriors find exercise modalities that suit them!

Get Real This New Year: Fitness Resolutions You Can Actually Achieve

We’re all for committing to self-improvement in the year ahead — but some New Year’s resolutions are notorious for falling by the wayside when we set, ahem, lofty expectations. The reality is sobering: a mere 8 percent of people complete their resolutions. That’s a pretty exclusive group. Far more of us fall into the 92 percent that let go of these goals – often by February. The ensuing disappointment can feel defeating.

The problem, in many cases, is that many people set goals that are difficult to achieve. The key is to focus on what you can realistically commit to accomplishing, especially when considering your personal track record and comfort level. Often, setting small milestone goals can help get the ball rolling, and you may then feel inspired to use that momentum to surpass what you hoped for.

Maybe you want to get in shape, and your goal for doing so is to start running. It sounds awesome to say you’re going to run a marathon in the summer, but for some, that’s an extraordinary goal that can feel far out of reach when your body isn’t used to long-distance running and you find yourself out of breath after a mile. Instead, you may consider signing up for a 5K in the spring and a 10K in the fall. Work toward those smaller goals, and the motivation you feel upon hitting them can spur you to aim for a marathon.

Experts note that the key is to be honest with yourself. Understand what your current fitness level is and where you want to be. Not everyone starts from the same place, and that’s fine. Fitness requires some lifestyle changes, and it’s not going to happen overnight. Below are a few more tips that can help you steer yourself in a positive direction:

 

– Pair up with a workout buddy who can help keep you accountable.
– Join a class or a boot camp to jumpstart your new lifestyle.
– Shoot for small goals first – like running a mile or bench-pressing 100 pounds – with the idea that you’ll level up as your body adapts.
– Keep a journal to track your progress.
– Try not to stress out about it. Instead, find workouts that you enjoy and want to do.

 

If you set up realistic goals for the new year, we’re confident you can and will tackle your New Year’s fitness resolutions!

Sync Fitness is here to help you along the way. We wish you a happy and healthy 2017!

How to Transition Your Summer Workout Regimen for Fall

We’ve been lucky with the ‘Indian Summer’ we’ve been having, but we all know fall chills are just days away. You can already smell the difference in the air!

 

As the rainy, cold fall and winter weather arrives, it’s time to transition your summer workout regimen for fall so that you can stay on track with your fitness goals even if the weather isn’t beckoning. Here are some helpful tips to keep you on course:

 

running-573762_960_720Do something active, TODAY. After the beautiful summer weather goes away, it can be more and more difficult to drag yourself out of bed or off the couch to exercise. If you wait for the weather, you probably won’t work out more than a handful of times between now and April of next year. While scraping up some motivation can be tough, make a point each day to do something active. Even if it’s not a complete workout with cardio and strength training, small daily efforts make a difference!

 

Adjust your goals. During the summertime, your goal may have been to maintain a slim tummy to look good in your swimsuit. As you transition your summer workout regimen for fall, consider switching your focus to strength training in order to build muscles and tone. Over time, increase weight resistance while decreasing repetitions, and then increase repetitions again to build stronger muscles in target groups. Pair that with plenty of core exercise, so that when you break out your suit next summer, you’ll love the results.

 

Switch it up. Sometimes, doing something different is a great motivator. Make the change from outdoor-heavy exercise to things that you enjoy and can do inside – racquetball, table tennis, swimming, hula hooping… whatever gets you excited to be active. Taking advantage of the seasonal transition to switch up your workout routine is perfect timing for a twist on your workout routine. And when winter arrives, be sure to take advantage of fun winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing.

 

Make yourself accountable. Accountability may be the single most important factor to sticking with your workout regimen – during transition times or not! What kind of accountability do you need to reduce the temptation to procrastinate or skip workouts? For some, it’s a friend or exercise buddy, for others, it’s a regular class or bootcamp series, and others only need to make a promise to themselves. Join a team, club (lots of running clubs start in the fall), or bootcamp to kickstart your workout regimen and get some fitness accountability. Whatever your needs are, find a way to support yourself in staying on track during this transition from summer to fall.

 

Plan ahead and track your progress. As the days become shorter, it will become harder to get up early or set aside time after work to exercise in the dark. By scheduling your workout the day before (or planning ahead for the whole week), you can give yourself that extra bit of accountability to make it happen. Keep yourself engaged by tracking your progress, because when you can see the correlation between the improvements during workouts with the effect on the bathroom mirror and scale readings, you’ll be motivated to keep it up.

 

Change your gear. As it gets dark earlier and the sun rises later, it’s important to add layers to your workout apparel to avoid injuring your muscles. You can shed them as you warm up, but these layers accomplish two very important things: retaining moisture and regulating body temperature. These things are critical to keep you from becoming too dehydrated or straining a tight muscle because you haven’t properly warmed it up. If you are exercising outside in the dark, always wear bright, reflective clothing or accessories to stay safe!

 

Think about your meals. Support your exercise efforts with yummy and healthy meals! As summer produce starts to disappear, it will become more and more difficult to find fresh fruit and veggies, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with unhealthy choices. Search Pinterest for tasty-looking healthy meals, and add them to a special board that you can peruse when you’re low on inspiration. Take this an extra step by shopping with the meals for the week in mind – it will save you time and keep you from unhealthy snacking if you know you have the makings of a delicious dinner in the fridge! And, make your breakfast before you go to bed each night, since it’s the most important meal of the day and you want to jumpstart your metabolism right.

 

Drink lots and lots of water. It’s easier to remember to drink water during the summertime, when the hot sun makes you sweat more. But you need to drink lots of water throughout the cold months as well, since dehydration is a sneakier risk. The bite of frosty fall or winter chill makes your body temperature fluctuate, sweat evaporates more quickly, and your body’s thirst response is naturally diminished. This means you may not realize that you are thirsty or dehydrated. To be safe, drink lots of water throughout the day and especially before and after exercising to keep your body hydrated and safe.
Ready? Good luck!

3 Easy Summer Fitness Tips!

Jan FeatureSummertime can be a tough time to stay on top of health, fitness, wellness goals. I mean, who doesn’t want to just lounge in the sun all day with a bottomless mimosa?!?

But summer fitness can actually be super easy and practically effortless. If you’re struggling at all with this, email me! I would love to help you out in any way I can.

Ok, here are my 3 Easy Summer Fitness Tips:

>>>1. Get in shorter workouts.
If you have a crazy summer schedule, don’t underestimate the power of getting in a 10 minute workout. It’s better than nothing – and can leave you drenched & fired up for your day. Try this: 30 jumping jacks, 20 squats, 10 push ups, 10 supermans. Repeat as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes.

>>>2. Build movement and activity into your day.
Do walking errands when it’s sunny out. Schedule hikes and bike rides with your family. Hit up parks with trails and go exploring (Discovery and Carkeek are great for this!) Go stand up paddle boarding or kayaking on Greenlake or Lake Washington. Workouts don’t always have to be super high intensity – any movement is much better than sitting in front of a screen.

>>>3. Join a community for support.
Yes, come join us at Sync Fitness! Showing up for a workout takes out all the guesswork. It is so nice to just let someone else tell you what to do. It’s also great to workout in a community of supportive women (our members are super rad!) Email me to schedule a complimentary week of classes OR you could even jump into our upcoming Battle of the Bod Squads if you’re looking for fitness & nutrition support and daily motivation.

Don’t let three months of eating and drinking creep up on you. I’ve seen it happen and it’s very frustrating come fall. Don’t do that to yourself! I’m here for you. My team is here for you. We would love to support you in any way we can.

Oh, and PS: You can save $50 off Battle of the Bod Squads if you register by Tuesday at midnight! Make sure to grab your spot right away (and invite a couple friends to join you – it’s a super fun program!) This program was specifically designed to be a part of your summer routine – you can even do it while traveling!

Sara-Dean-26About Sara Dean and Sync Fitness: Sara founded Sync Fitness in 2003. It is her biggest pride and joy – ok, aside from her 3 year old – and some days that is totally negotiable. Our programs have received multiple awards and accolades over the years. The community my staff and members have built at Sync Fitness is beyond anything I could have imagined when I first started this adventure. We do a lot of laughing, a lot of cheering, and there are quite a few happy tears too. I am proud that this is a safe place for so many women to show up and do their thang, whatever that means on any given day. Our classes are full of all shapes, sizes and fitness levels. Every single person is perfect as is.

You can contact Sara and the Sync Team here. We look forward to connecting with you!

Why Do a Bootcamp vs. Personal Training

Bootcamps and group fitness classes are at the heart of our business at Sync Fitness, and there’s a reason for this! Unlike many gyms and fitness studios in the area, we don’t really focus on the one-on-one stuff, because there’s a far greater benefit and better results when you choose to do a bootcamp vs. personal training. We have built our small but mighty village with a strong sense of community and belonging for everyone.

Benefit of Numbers

In a bootcamp fitness scenario, you’re working out with several other individuals, all sweating together through the pain to attain your different goals. Over time, this group effort and encouragement to reach our individual goals for health and fitness bring us together as a group. And with more people working hard together for their health, there is more positive energy! This is so much more powerful than coaching and encouragement from a single personal trainer; when 12 people are cheering you on versus just one, you have more positive reinforcement and accountability.

Realistic & Fun Approach

One of the big reasons why people don’t like going to the gym is the intimidating thought of working out alongside bodybuilders with rippling muscles and/or mostly naked people women with gleaming six-packs. Group fitness classes with a bootcamp-focus are almost entirely made up of real men and women, particularly at Sync Fitness. Real people with real curves and very little concern for perfection. We have a ton of fun together when there’s a no-judgement approach to getting fit and healthy together. And no two days are alike! Variety is also more enjoyable with new and different workouts all of the time.

Achieve Goals for Less Cost

Not only do they provide an excellent kick-in-the-pants start to fitness, bootcamps and group training classes are less expensive than personal training sessions, so you can get more bang for your buck. Some personal trainers and gyms will indicate that it’s harder for individuals to achieve their goals in a group setting, but the opposite is actually true. Sure, you don’t have a coach over your shoulder for each and every minute of your workout, but you can certainly go to your trainer to get advice and pointers to make your workouts with the group more challenging or focused on specific areas for the results you’re looking for.

There are times when you should consider personal training, and our trainers can help in these special cases:

  • You’re new to working out and need more hands-on help with form.
  • You have injuries that you need to take particular care not to aggravate or worsen.
  • Your schedule can’t accommodate bootcamp classes.
  • If you’re wondering if classes might be a good fit for you, contact us!

Sustainable Habits for a Fit & Healthy Spring into Summer

Whew! We’ve already had a scorcher with record-breaking temperatures on Monday, and it’s not even June! All of that lovely weather is probably going to get you in the mood to get into a swimsuit (or at least shorts) too cool off, but lots of us struggle attaining the beach bod we can be proud of.

The following suggestions and tips will help you get on the path with sustainable habits for and building a body you love.

Start small. Let’s be honest, doing a complete overhaul of your lifestyle and diet can feel challenging. And since we’re creatures of habit, it’s easy to fall back into poor habits. But if you can start with a small change and commit to it, such as skipping dessert or going for a 30-minute run/walk every day, you can tackle your habits one at a time for more success! The key is to stay active each and every day, even if every session is not hard core.

Mix it up. The best workout regimens include a mixture of cardio and strength-training exercise. The cardio improves your heart health while causing you to lose calories and fat from sweat, while the strength training increases muscle mass and tones your physique.

Focus on your food. A diet packed with protein is what you need for a slimmer, fitter bod. A healthy serving is 4-6 ounces – have some with each meal! Great sources are plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, meat, fish, tofu, lentils, nut butters, mixed nuts and quinoa. Your lunches are where the key is, here, since it’s usually the most rushed and easy to grab something unhealthy. Give yourself a chance here, with healthy lunches that you pre-pack the night before to help keep you on track. Change the way you think about foods, in general, and when most of your diet is packed with clean, healthy foods, it’s okay to have a ‘treat’ food once in awhile!

Find something fun. It’s difficult to do things we don’t enjoy, and although a lot of people feel intimidated by exercise, but it can be fun! Find physical activities that you enjoy, and make them the core of your efforts. This could include cycling, playing soccer, or fitness classes with a friend!

Get support and accountability. Sometimes a friend is all you need to help you reach your goals. Just in time for the advent of summer, we’re offering a special program with our Little Black Dress Project. It’s a four-week program with effective workouts, tips for improved eating habits, and strategies for wellbeing — all supported with inspiration, accountability and non-competitive motivation from trainers and other project participants. Early Bird registration lasts until April 25th, and the project kicks off on May 5th!

Check Your Balance

As you are going about your normal day, do you find yourself occasionally catching your balance, or bobbling here and there in ways that you perhaps didn’t before? Balance is intricately tied in with a solid and strong core. If you feel you don’t have quite the balance you used to have, it is likely that your core is also not what it used to be.

For anyone over the age of 30, your balance starts to wane in barely noticeable ways, then really speeds up once you hit your 50’s and 60’s. While those years may be a ways off for many of you, that is no reason to take your core and your balance for granted.

If you understand the factors that affect balance, then you can learn what you can to minimize balance issues and even re-gain lost balance.

Balance involves the relationship between your inner ear, your vision, and the muscles and joints from your feet all the way up your spine. Your brain processes the information that is transmitted from each of these areas and in turn transmits this information needed for your muscles and joints to manage balance. When all three are working well, you have a good sense of your spatial positioning

The various seasons of life can potentially cause loss of muscle mass, fading eyesight, and the decline of inner ear functioning. These seasons can be normal aging, pregnancy and childbirth, and injuries. When one or all of these areas are degenerating, your brain signals are thrown off and balance is adversely affected. Of course in our 30’s and 40’s, this loss is so slight that it is not usually noticed, but it is occurring.

It stands to reason that improving muscle mass and practicing balance exercises can not only arrest further balance loss, but even re-gain levels of balance already sacrificed.

The best place to start to re-gain or prevent loss of strength and balance is the quadriceps or thigh muscle. Daily squats and balance exercises can all make a significant difference to your balance.

General strength training helps to maintain Type II muscle fibers, the muscles that are needed to help us shift our weight to prevent falls.

Here are some great foundational balance exercises to get you on the road to re-gaining loss balance.

  1. Any core building exercises such as planks and bridging.
  2. General weight training or resistance-band workouts.
  3. Walking with one foot directly in front of the other and standing on one foot are two exercises that can be done daily while brushing your teeth!
  4. Bosu ball exercises to build dynamic balance.

Maintaining and building balance opens up endless possibilities of activities and adventures now and in your future. Keep working on that balance!

Does Your Fitness Plan Measure Up?

You are working out hard, trying to eat clean and light and yet it just doesn’t feel like you are making the progress you think you should for how hard you are working. If this is true of you, you may not have a balanced fitness plan and in this case, it is better to workout smarter, not harder.

We all have seen those amazing cardio addicts at the gym. They seem to be able to go full hours or more just hammering it on the treadmill or elliptical. But their body composition and fitness levels just don’t seem to change much.

That is likely because they may not have a balanced fitness plan. When your fitness plan is balanced, you are seeing results because all components are working together and giving your body the challenges it needs in all areas to be truly fit.

  • Flexibility: Challenging your flexibility allows your muscles to move through full ranges of motion without getting stiff. Working on flexibility is easily skipped, yet one of the most important components of your workout plan. Keeping your muscles flexible helps them to respond better to your workouts and avoid injury with torn or pulled muscles. Yoga, tai chi, and Pilates are good ways to challenge your flexibility. You can keep it simple with a full body flexibility routine daily and in a week or so, you will see results.
  • Cardiovascular Endurance: This is when you are able to do continuous exercise such as running, cycling, hiking, swimming for sustained periods of time. Your lungs and blood vessels (your cardio system) are forced to work hard and fuel your body with the necessary oxygen so your muscles can work continuously. Test your cardio ability and see how you do on the 3 minute Step test or far you can run in 12 minutes. This is known as the Cooper Run.
  • Muscular Strength: Think of your major muscle groups that you use to lift and carry heavy objects. This muscle strength is what is called upon when you need to do the big lifting and exertion of life. The most effective way to increase strength is with weight training.
  • Muscular Endurance: this differs from muscular strength in that it is defined by the ability of your muscles to perform continued contractions over an extended period of time. It is the ability to lift and or carry heavy objects for minutes, rather than short repetition sets. When weight training, you can challenge your muscle endurance by training with lighter weights for 20-25 repetitions.
  • Body Fat: Your composition of body fat is simply the amount of fat on your body compared to your lean muscle mass. Fit qualifications for men and women differ. It is agreed in the fitness and medical communities that men with a body fat composition lower than 17% and women lower than 24% are considered fit. A good quality fitness program will address your body fat composition.

So, make sure you are addressing the above 5 areas of fitness and you will have balance and see results faster as you work hard and play hard!

How to Find Victory with Your New Year’s Resolutions

Making New Years’ resolutions is a tradition with many Americans.  Roughly 45 percent of us make them, envisioning a lighter, healthier self or better personal finances. However over 50 percent of those who set their resolutions give up on them within six months and only 8 percent make it to the full one year mark. However, if you look at those who do set resolutions to begin with, those people are 10 times more likely to make significant behavioral changes that do lead to improvements even if the resolutions are not fully attained.

It stands to reason that making resolutions is only half the battle, understanding human behavior with initiating change is the other half…or more. Personal coaches and corporate success stories have lessons for us and the message is that it is not that complex to achieve your New Years’ resolutions.

    • Make it measureable: Real and lasting change happens not just with setting a goal, but also setting an actionable and measureable plan on how to get there. If you want to lose some weight, you must also have a nutrition and workout plan to back that up. You can maintain your motivation knowing that your success will be significantly higher if you map that plan out for yourself.
    • Limit yourself: You are setting yourself up for failure if you set multiple goals and try to work on too many at once. It is far better to have success with one or two resolutions because they are more manageable than dismal failure with a long list. Once you have attained a certain level of success with one or two, you can set more. They don’t have to be set in January. In fact, quarterly resolutions can set you up to be more successful.
    • Write them down and share them: A study on goal achievement found that writing down goals and sending weekly updates to a friend resulted in 76% goal success than those who didn’t. That is how you beat the numbers normally associated with failure to achieve New Years’ resolutions!
    • Focus Daily: whether it is photos of your final goals taped to your fridge, or reminders on your smart phone, there are great resources our there to keep you focused each day on your goals and the daily steps you need to get there.

    So it is not complex and it is possible for you to beat those dismal numbers and find yourself this time next year looking back to some great new changes that you made in your life.