Category Archives: Nutrition

June Meal of the Week- Alison’s 500 calorie lunch prep

Meal of the Week

Alison Yee

 

This weekend I meal prepped 30 meals for my sister, brother in law and myself in under an hour. My weekends tend to be fairly busy but I prioritize meal prepping because I know how much I fall apart during the week without taking the time to plan ahead.  I remotely coach and program for my siblings and decided to meal prep for them as well because, honestly, I was sick of their bitching.  The constant choir of “Why am I not losing body fat?!?” and the “I swear I’m doing everything right!” was so irritating in the way that only family members can irritate that I had no choice left but to take over their kitchens. 

 

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This week’s lunch is:

  • Roasted potatoes with peppers and onions/ 150g
  • Lime and cilantro seasoned chicken/ 5oz
  • Wild arugula/ 1cup
  • Crumbled blue cheese/ 1oz
  • Organic Power to the greens/ 1 cup 

 

Protein: 37.9g  Carbs: 35.2g  Fat: 25.0g  Calories 518

Meal of the Week- Ryan’s Go-To Restaurant

Meal of the week, Ryan McUmber

 

I try not to eat out often. This usually leads to a mystery of what you are actually eating. Unfortunately many restaurants usually use a variety of unhealthy ingredients, that are far more cheaper for them to use. 

 

For this reason I have a list of places around the city that I can trust to know that simple ingredients are going into my stomach. Today I chose  Federal Galley’s new taco place- Guapo! The original taco place, El Lugar,   will be moving to their own place, which is unfortunate for me but great for them. I guess I’ll just have to drive to go see them now. Guapo was great though!  Each taco has ingredients that you can clearly pronounce or even buy at your local farmers market.

 

Now I have some rules that come to restaurants on my list. One I already listed was I want know what the ingredients and that I clearly know that they can get from the farmer without any or much processing as possible. Second the vegetables need to look happy. For example if I get salad that looks sad, then I probably won’t be going back. Third, they need to be relatively quick. Quality should be first, always, but this list is made of restaurants that I go to in a pinch- so speed is essential too.

 

Of course these places are hard to find and/or more expensive but when it comes to putting nutrients in your body, it’s definitely worth it. So I recommend building your list, that way when you are on the run you can still stick to your goals of building a well-oiled machine. 

Meal of the week- Alexa’s Everything (but the bagel) Oatmeal

Everything but the Bagel Oatmeal

-great for weight training

 

The savory oatmeal is inspired by a client of mine. I wanted to try my own spin on it, so here’s what I have for you:

½ cup or 40g of Quick Oats

¼ cup of Pumpkin Seeds

1-2 Poached Eggs

Preferred amount of Thyme + Garlic

A lovely serving of Pink Himalayan Sea Salt and Black pepper

Handful of Spinach + Kale

Throw Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel seasoning all over the top

 

First: 

Boil 6 ounces of water. Once boiling, throw in the oats. Stir. Add thyme, garlic, sea salt, and pepper. And simmer for 1-2 minutes. Then throw oats in a bowl and mix in pumpkin seeds.

 

Second:

Start boiling water for poached egg. A little grandma trick- pour in a small amount of vinegar so the egg whites form around the egg to prevent the separation madness. Create spinning vortex and drop in the egg, let simmer for 1-3 minutes depending on your preference of dippy-ness.

 

Third:

Add spinach and kale on top of oats. Next add egg(s). Sprinkle Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel season all over and eat! 🙂

Meal of the Week -Casey

For context:

 

  • I haven’t been training with any consistency. 
  • I am using intermittent fasting for two reasons
    • Convenience- it’s nice to put off that first meal until the afternoon
    • Auto-immune support- this style of eating has been shown to help those with AI diseases
  • I have shoulder surgery scheduled for next week
  • My primary goal right now is to let my body rest and reset

 

This meal is from a meal prep company. I’ve been using them for two weeks and I like it for now because it’s done for me and it’s bland. There aren’t any extra ingredients and it’s not cooked with anything that could upset my GI tract- no unknown ingredients or cheap cooking oils.

 

Ingredients:

Grass Fed Ground Bison

Sweet Potato

Rice boiled in chicken broth

Spinach

Red pepper

I added more salt and Pre packaged guac from Costco (only ingredients are avocado, lime, salt, and pepper)!

This meal is about 700 calories. 

 

Overall my day looks like this:

Meal 1 at 1pm- Ground Bison meal

Meal 2 at 4pm- Ground Bison meal

Meal 3 at 9pm- Whatever looks good! Sometimes Chicken or Filet from Butcher Box. Sometimes my mom drops off dinner when she stops over to take care of the dogs. (I’m a momma’s boy through and through.) 

 

So my days right now are running 2500 calories, but understand my activity is almost nothing -I walk my dogs each morning and that’s about it. I sit most of the day. And my bodyweight is roughly 85% of what I typically walk around at. So keep in mind this is a snapshot of what I’m doing NOW with a very focused goal- REST. After surgery and when I get the clear from my GI doctor, my calories will easily double as I increase activity. And actually my body composition will improve with an increase in calories. Crazy, right? Not really- this is why we push #powerful and resistance training. Our systems, when taxed and fed properly, can respond in incredible ways.

 

 

I certainly could meal prep this on my own, but I’m dedicating too much time to other things.

First being my dogs- they’re requiring some ‘retraining.’

Second being Union Fitness- we have some big changes coming in the fall and I’m putting in a lot of work, along with our team, into changing the way we do things. It will still be the same us, but we’re exploring new ways to help YOU!

 

Fasting, is it for everyone?

Fasting, is it for Everyone?

 

Fasting. The buzziest word of 2017, 2018, 2019, and probably for a few more years.  Or maybe it is just on my mind. You know when you are buying a car and you want a yellow car- then you start to see yellow cars everywhere. It’s not the influx of yellow cars now on the road, it’s your brain looking for this. So, now “fasting” is EVERYWHERE to me.

 

To be honest when I heard the word, I would sigh, take a breath, and ask why? Most responses were “I don’t know, my friend is doing it” or “I want to lose weight so this will shorten my window of eating.” Ok, I guess I understand the logic behind shortening the window. I also never gave it a chance to have an opinion. So, what did I do? I tried it to see how my body would respond. Before I get into it, I want to give some information on what fasting is.

 

What is Fasting or Intermittent Fasting (IF)? Fasting is the absence of eating for a period of time. This is voluntary and different from starvation which is involuntary. You have a feeding window and you have a fasting window. An example of a popular fasting ratio is 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of feeding. Keep in mind of those 16 hours, 7-8 hours should be spent sleeping. Your reasoning will be different from the next. Some do it for health benefits, weight loss, etc. while others do it for spiritual reasons. 

 

Fasting was not created in 2019 by the most recent Instagram famous fitspo. It is something our bodies are born to do. Our bodies are equipped and ready at any moment to prepare for long periods of time before the next feeding. How? Our body fat is the fuel to our intricate system. In other words, your body eats itself. This leads into some of the reasons people start this in the first place.

 

*Mind you fasting does not mean instant ‘fat burning.’ Our bodies will burn muscle before fat in a caloric deficit IF we do not lower our glycogen stores (through a low carb diet or consistent intense training to keep those stores low), which is not the recipe for improved body composition. 

Low glycogen stores + interval strength training = optimal fat burning. 

 

Autophagy. When fasting, our cells go through a process called autophagy. This is the degradation and recycling of cells, a way for the body to throw away old crappy cells, organelles, etc. I will quickly tell you why our body does this because we all need to know why things happen in order to connect to a concept. When we eat, insulin increases. When we don’t eat, and need some glucose, our body increases glucagon, a hormone used to break down stored glycogen. Remember, our body needs energy. Glucagon is released more often when we fast. Glucagon stimulates autophagy. Autophagy can happen anywhere in the body, including in the brain. Research has shown some benefits to fasting for the prevention of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and even cancer- shown to help clean up abnormal proteins that are prevalent in these diseases.

 

 

Other reasons people fast are for (POSSIBLE) increased fat burning, weight loss from shortened feeding window, management of type 2 diabetes, mental clarity, increased growth hormone, cell cleansing, and reduction of inflammation. Please keep in mind that these cool benefits are not promised and often take more than just a manipulation of your feeding window to reap the benefit. Some of these take lifestyle changes such as food choices, exercise, and other interventions. Fasting is not the end all be all. So, I am here to tell you how my body reacted and why fasting is not for everyone. 

 

If you are curious on how fasting will react with your body I recommend doing some research into what fasting window is right for you and, if your body is in the right place for it. Some great resources are Dr. Rhonda Patrick at www.foundmyfitness.com (her podcast is great too), Dr. Satchin Panda, and Dr. Jason Fung.

 

Fasting windows: DISCLAIMER: Please talk to your doctor before trying any of the extreme fasts, they are absolutely not for everyone and can result in dangerous outcomes.

13:11 (the circadian fast – 13 hours of fasting, 11 hours of feeding) (The non-extreme and the one that works best for me) (Dr. Satchin Panda is a great resource for this!)

16:8 (16 hours of fasting, 8 hours of feeding)

20:4 (20 hours of fasting, 4 hours of feeding)

24-hour fasting

5:2 (5 days of eating, 2 days fasting and of on the 2 days you are allowed to consume 500 calories)

Extended fasting (greater than 48 hours, this is extreme and can result in micronutrient deficiency)

 

My fasting experience. I fasted for 3.5-4 weeks. I trained fasted. I did the 16:8 fast. Stopped eating around 7:15 at night and did not eat again until 11:15 am the next day. I was enamored by the fact that my body was able to sustain without food for 16 hours because I LOVE TO EAT and I have always been a breakfast person. Here is how my body reacted. The first week I felt great. I loved having a small feeding window of 8 hours. I ate non-stop, so it felt. I think I dropped 1 pound the first week. Probably because my body was confused. But, let me tell you about the rest of the 2-4 weeks. I felt chronically fatigue, my training felt sluggish with zero energy, my brain felt foggier than ever, and I was bloated like a kid on Christmas (makes no sense), but you get the idea. I started wondering if this was for me. I thought maybe the symptoms would go away after my body acclimated to this change. Nada. I did some research. Women, this one’s for you.

 

Fasting is a form of intermittent starvation, voluntary, but starvation at best. Your body does not know the difference of voluntary and involuntary starvation. The female body is protective, period. Our intricate and amazingly beautiful bodies want to stand up and protect at any moment from famine, danger, etc. So, reproductive hormones start to decrease because our bodies do not see the success of nurturing a growing child when food is low. You are signaling to your hypothalamus (H-P-G axis), the main conductor of this train of hormones, that food may not be around and therefore the system changes, downregulates. The hypothalamus likes food to be spread throughout the day to feel confident that you are ok. Your hypothalamus is not only the conductor of your menstrual cycle, it also plays into other important hormones such as cortisol, thyroid, etc. 

 

My experience with hypothalamic amenorrhea in the past tells me that fasting is like playing with fire. Sure, 12-13 hours of fasting is quite normal and typically how my lifestyle falls in to place, but extending the hours gets tricky. A few other reasons fasting is often not warranted for women: if pregnant due to possible nutrient and calorie deficiencies, breastfeeding due to a reduction in milk supply and hypoglycemia, past eating disorder due to a reinforcement of binging periods and anxiety around eating, and over all hormonal imbalances. Fasting is not warranted for certain medical conditions and should be discussed with a Physician before starting. Keep in mind other situational factors that can potentially alter electrolytes and put you at risk for fluid imbalance i.e. high intensity exercise, traveling, periods of high stress, lack of sleep, etc. should be considered before choosing fasting protocols.

 

OK, all in all fasting has its many benefits and there are plenty of podcasts, PubMed articles, and books out there that show some significant changes in health markers, weight loss- if in a calorie deficit, and cognitive improvements. If you try it, give it more than 2 weeks to allow your body to go through an acclimatization period and for your daily habits to adjust. Fasting also has its downfalls, so take all this information with a grain of salt. Be skeptical, question, do your research, know your body, and be mindful of your experience if you do try it. If you have any questions, especially women, please feel free to reach out.

 

Alexa Ferri

Fitness Over the Holidays

It’s mid-December and the holiday season is now fully upon us. What does that mean? Probably a little less time in the gym, a few more cookies than usual, and hopefully a lot more time with friends and family. Good things all around in my humble opinion.

If you’re traveling over the next few weeks, you might be feeling a little anxiety about skipping your workouts and training sessions. Here are a few quick and maybe unexpected tips to help keep you on track:

Stop stressing.

Hey you, when’s the last time you actually took a prolonged rest? Did I hear never? Well, look’s like now is your time! And what better occasion could there be to give your body the rest it needs to recover than when spending lots of quality time with your loved ones? You’ll likely be eating a little more than usual, giving your body some extra fuel to use towards recovery. When January 1 comes around, you’ll feel refreshed and super motivated to get back to your normal training routine.

You can still keep your health goals in mind.

Remember that not every meal in the month of December is a holiday meal – most of the time you’re going to be eating the normal, healthy food that fuels you. Right? If not, give that some thought. Holiday food is delicious and should be savored, and it loses its luster when you’re overindulging. Eat grandma’s famous nut roll and enjoy the hell out of, but not every night for a week. You are capable of moderation, and your body will thank you for it.

Use travel as an opportunity to try new fitness things.

One of my favorite things to do when I go home to visit family is to try out different gyms and studios. Never tried yoga? Find a local studio and rent a mat! Climbing gyms abound recently and are a ton of fun, even for casual climbers. Think spinning isn’t for you? You might be surprised.

If you’re looking for a cool place to lift, don’t hesitate to ask the UF staff! We may know a place that suits you (we’re all meatheads after all).

If you’re going to lift, consider simplifying your training.

Union Fitness is a pretty sweet spot and we have a lot of cool equipment you probably won’t find at your basic commercial gym. Be flexible in your training for these few weeks. It’ll be easier on you mentally to head into the gym and just focus on the basics. This doesn’t mean you can’t push yourself! Maybe this is the week you give try a set of 20 reps on your squats?

No access to a gym? Work out at home with Fitness Blender!

I recommend Fitness Blender to friends all the time for travel workouts. They have tons of workouts that can be done with just your bodyweight (or you can include any equipment you have access to). You can choose how long you want to work out for, what body parts, and what type of training.

When in doubt, do burpees.

They’ll destroy you no matter where you are or what you’re doing.

Happy Holidays from the Union Fitness Team!

To supplement, or not to supplement….

One of my favorite questions- “what supplements should I take?”

 

Everyone from mom and dad to Ray Lewis have turned to supplements at some point in their lives. Why? Sometimes out of necessity- doctors orders. Sometimes to gain a perceived edge over their competition. And sometimes out of ignorance.

 

I don’t want to comment on the morals of the fitness industry- it’s a rabbit hole I’m no interested in going down for the sake of this article. The industry as a whole is “OK.” But I’m going to be critical of the supplement industry, and deservedly so.

 

Supplements ARE NOT regulated by the FDA. They can be made in someone’s kitchen, branded, marketed, and sold anywhere, even GNC. Of course GNC decides what to carry and what not to carry, but no matter what, NONE of the items on their shelves are FDA approved. Do I think the FDA regulations do a good job of protecting us- the short answer is no. But would ANY oversight in the supplement industry be helpful- yes.

 

CAVEAT EMPTOR (Buyer Beware)

Fat burners, Testosterone boosters, Weight gainers, Detox pills…the list goes on.

 

Fat burners raise your heart rate, period.
Test boosters lower your estrogen levels so your testosterone is higher (relative).
*FYI gents, we need estrogen just as much as we need testosterone.
Weight gainers are typically loaded with sugar.
Detox pills…how about let your liver and kidney’s do their job?

 

So we’re back to the question that almost everyone asks- “What supplements should I take?”

 

How about this- “Should I consider taking a supplement?”

 

A supplement is defined as something that completes or enhances something else when added to it.

 

Answer these questions honestly, and you can very quickly determine what, if anything, you should be taking:

 

  • Are you getting 8+ hours of sleep per night?
  • Are you hitting your caloric maintenance number?
    (A surplus will cause you to gain weight, a deficit will cause you to lose weight- obviously goal dependent)
  • Have you had blood work done to determine if you may be deficient in any vitamins or minerals?

 

If you aren’t eating well balanced meals or are getting a lot of processed foods, you’re missing out on essential micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). If you aren’t getting 8 hours of sleep, your body’s hormones are already out of whack. And if you don’t know what, if anything, you’re deficient in, why supplement? You don’t even know what you’re supplementing.

 

And supplementing poor habits is a waste of money. Eat healthy. Sleep more. If you can’t take commit to those things, put your wallet back in your pocket and save your money.

 

Now, I realize most of you will not go through all of this before supplementing. So I’ll give you the basics, as I see them. This is not a recommendation and I am not a doctor.

 

ZMA
Zinc, Magnesium, B6
One of the greatest supplements ever invented. It will help you sleep and provides two minerals that the majority of the population is deficient in. *the most bang for your buck

 

Vitamin D3
We don’t get enough sunshine in Pittsburgh, so this is likely another area where you could be deficient. It will take months after starting supplementation to see a significant improvement in levels, but this should all be checked through blood work. Remember, it is fat soluble, so it needs to be taken with food that contains fat.

 

Magnesium
I prefer glycinate because it is absorbed easily with little GI discomfort. Too much magnesium will having you running to the bathroom, so start with small doses. Again, most people are deficient here. Magnesium is used in over 300 chemical reactions within the body…it’s important. And if you go to the gym regularly, you need more than the average none gym goer to put it technically.

 

Creatine
This is one of the most studied supplements ever. It helps with athletic performance by facilitating ATP production (ATP, if you remember from high school biology, is cellular energy). If you dose this too high, it will strain your kidneys.

 

Moral of the story- don’t try any of these without consulting your doctor.
Sleep more.
Eat better.
Then supplement, maybe.

Building a Healthy Relationship with Food: A Work in Constant Progress

When Alison suggested I write this particular blog post, I laughed.

 

My first thought: no one could possibly be less qualified to write about having a healthy relationship with eating than me. But after we talked about it, I agreed. I’ve struggled with my eating habits and thought processes around food for a very long time and in those struggles I’ve learned a lot. If nothing else, I’ve definitely read just about every article on the internet on about nutrition at least 3 times, so worst case scenario I could regurgitate some of that information and be done with it.

 

Then it came time to actually write the article, and I procrastinated. In fact, I put off writing this until the day before it was due. The topic brought up a lot of anxiety and fear that I’d hoped were behind me. I felt uncomfortable with the idea of sharing my disordered history, and more uncomfortable with the fact that I’d have to openly admit that I’m not healed yet. However, I have made progress that I’m really proud of. None of us are perfect and I think it’s important that every person who comes through the gym knows and feels that. So I’m going to share some of my history, some of the things I’ve done wrong (very wrong), and some of the things that have really helped repair my relationship with food and eating.

 

An unhealthy relationship with food can permeate your entire life. I understand.  I wish that no one else had to deal with these issues, but I know for certain that many of you do. I really hope you can learn from some of my past mistakes and take the positive steps I’ll outline to heart.

 

How I got to this point

 

I’ll put this bluntly: I was diagnosed with non-purging Bulimia Nervosa in 2015. I’d been struggling with it for about 10 years at that point, but hit a breaking point that I couldn’t come back from alone.

 

My poor relationship with food started at a young age. I went through puberty early and was bigger than most of the other girls in my grade. I was super active with soccer, track, cheerleading (I know). I was usually on 4-5 different teams and at 1-2 practices every night. In response, my appetite knew no bounds. I could put away food, and I did. And at some point, a comment about my “thunder thighs” took root. I knew how I wanted to look: dainty and thin. Thunder thighs do not fit that image.

 

I remember my first diet: I was 12 and had a friend steal Weight Watchers materials from her mom so I could follow them. A pattern emerged pretty quickly: I’d follow that diet, eating as little as I could stand, and then one night I’d be so hungry I couldn’t sleep and I would eat EVERYTHING: a gallon of ice cream, and entire family size bag of chips, straight Cool Whip. If it was edible and readily available, it was going in my mouth. I’d wake up guilty the next day and did what I perceived to be the only logical response: I’d fast until I couldn’t anymore and try to burn off the extra calories by running extra miles.

 

Things progressively got worse through high school and college. There were ups and downs (in weight and mental health), but the pattern stayed: restriction, binge, fast and run.

 

I got into lifting when I was 22, in an unhealthy relationship, and needed something to help me feel strong and able. It worked: I got stronger, left that relationship, and found out I wasn’t too bad at lifting. Over the next few years, I got more and more serious and naturally decided it was time to dial in my nutrition. My goal body was a little different now: still thin, but muscular and lean. My binge/purge patterns were still there though, so I had to find a new way to compensate while still eating enough to get stronger.

 

I found a coach who specialized in concurrent endurance racing and powerlifting training, who also worked with a nutritionist. I thrive on order and planning, so I felt this was perfect for me. I knew if someone else was telling me how to eat and how to train, I wouldn’t let them down and I’d finally reach my goal body, and by extension, my goal life. I spent weeks justifying the reasoning to my boyfriend, who was rightly skeptical.

 

By all accounts, I did incredibly well on this system: I PRed my half marathon, my deadlift and bench progressed, and I successfully rehabbed a hip injury. Most importantly, my weight and body fat went WAY down. I went from around 142lbs to 122lbs in several months. I should have felt amazing, accomplished, disciplined. Instead, I somehow felt fat. I stopped going out socially because I couldn’t fit any restaurant foods into my diet, because then it wouldn’t be perfect. I couldn’t handle not being perfect.

 

Then it went off the rails on a family vacation. I was still slowly losing fat but eating a good amount: around 2600 calories per day. The problem came as soon as I let myself eat something “off-plan:” a single restaurant meal that included the most amazing flourless chocolate cake I’d ever had. I lost it after that. All of my binging behavior came back with a vengeance and I could not stop eating. It continued after coming home. I stopped going to work because I was so ashamed of myself. I was always somewhere between binging on thousands of calories at at time or fasting. I was eventually convinced me to seek help. This was one of the darkest times of my life.

 

Three years later, here I am, still lifting, up in weight, not healed, but substantially healthier. How?

 

Where I went wrong

 

If I could go back, I would change a lot of how I handled my disordered eating.

 

I would have talked about it and gotten help sooner.

I tried to hide my eating from everyone around me, which is a classic symptom of all binge eating disorders. I know that now. I was also really good at finding the other sick people around me in order to feel validated. I wish I would have put that pattern together when I was younger. Additionally, even after getting diagnosed, I opted out of some treatment options that probably would have really benefitted me. I can see now how seriously this disorder affected me, but in the moment I just talked it down. “This isn’t that bad, anorexics have it worse. Inpatient treatment is for teenage girls that are dying, not for 25 year olds that can’t stop eating.” That’s some bullshit. Those treatments are available for everyone for a reason (and there are lots of support groups aimed specifically at post-college age women and young professionals that I didn’t find until much later). Take advantage of them.

 

I always needed to be perfect.

This is probably the core of my issues, and I suspect the same goes for a lot of the people I see struggling around me. A lot of things came easy for me early in life: school, sports, friendships. I picked up a thinking pattern that goes like this: If I’m not immediately really good at something, it means I am incapable of doing that thing. This has affected me in every aspect of my life. Saddest example: I wanted to be an architect, but convinced myself that since math wasn’t immediately as easy as some of my other subjects, I just wasn’t cut out for it. I let my childhood dream die in an instant because of that black and white pattern of thinking.

 

I assumed that at some point, the work would be over I would be fixed.

Did you catch that up there? I’m still not healed. I recognize now that there will never be a time where I can just “relax” because I’m 100% recovered with no chance of relapse. That is not a thing. In my last blog I talked about self-care as that hard work and those hard decisions we have to make if we actually want to take care of ourselves. For me, this is it. I need therapy, I need journaling. I hate doing those things because they make me feel sick, but the truth is I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been (both physically and mentally) BECAUSE I do those things that are hard. I will always have to work at this and that is okay.

 

What I’m doing right (and you should do too)

 

So what’s changed in three years since getting the official diagnosis?

 

I finally got professional help.

You hire a professional to reach your fitness and health goals right? So why not hire a professional to reach your mental health goals? I’m on my fourth therapist now and she is a gem. It was hard finding a good fit and took about 2 years. It’s worth it. Half the time we don’t even talk about food, because half the time my disorder has absolutely nothing to do with food! The best part of therapy for me is the work we do on battling that black and white thinking I talked about above. Everyone that knows me well has heard me harp on about how therapy is useful for everyone, and I’m gonna spout that here too. You don’t need to have a diagnosed disorder to go to therapy. We all have faulty thinking patterns, and we all have the ability to retrain those patterns to be more helpful. A good therapist is key in making those changes.

 

I’m surrounded by people that support me without enabling me.

I mentioned above that I’ve always found other disordered people to make me feel more normal. I’m not doing that anymore. My family here at UF in particular have been a huge driving force in my recovery because they keep me accountable. When my therapist gives me homework, I know I can go to them for some additional motivation. Just like we remind Alison that she’s growing a tiny human right now, my coworkers need to remind me that yes, I do need to eat even if I’m not training that day.

 

When I was ready, I had to start going out of my comfort zone.

In the thick of it, my life was as follows: wake up at 3:30am, train from 4am to 6:30am, shower, work from 8:30am to 6pm or later, train again or go to class until 8 or 9pm, in bed by 9:30 or 10pm. There was no room for a social life, there was no room for real friendship, and there was certainly no room for food I didn’t make myself. After months of therapy, I was able to get used to eating out again. It was painful, there were a lot of tears, but I did it. Now I’m happy to say that I can eat foods that were even previously “danger foods” with some regularity. Do I sometimes lose it a little bit and binge? Yes I do. Like I said, it’s a work in progress. But those episodes are FAR less frequent, and my response to them has gone from some kind of fasting or over exercising to breathing techniques and mentally refocusing. My body is better for it because I’m not constantly breaking it down. I’m injured less and therefore a better athlete.

 

I got back in touch with how my body is feeling

A major theme of my disorder has been ignoring every hunger and fullness cue my body was sending me. At first I’d be ignoring my hunger until I got too desperate and then eating far beyond fullness, and then eating to a pre-set schedule no matter how hungry or not hungry I was. While I do still track most of what I eat and eat with a purpose, I spend a little more time trying to parse what my body is telling me. Example: last night after finishing my last meal I was still hungry. I ate half a Clif bar and then I was full, so I just didn’t eat the rest. I never leave food unfinished! This is the constant little progress I’m looking for.

 

I’m striving to let go of my “goal body”

Because really, that “goal body” has always been code for control. If I could just make my body look the way I wanted it to look, I could therefore make my life look the way I wanted it to look. Instead, I’m doing the hard things that actually affect my life. I left my old job that I hated to come to UF and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’m keeping up with therapy despite it being hard and I’m consistently getting a little bit better. I’m not weighing myself as much and I spend a lot of time seeking out women on social media that are strong as shit but not fitness models as a reminder that I don’t have to be super tiny or super lean to be strong and capable. My goal body now is a body that can deadlift 400lbs (soon), that can run 10 miles, and that supports me in my non-fitness goals of being good to the people around me and helpful in every way that I can. And you know what, it’s succeeding. And I’m proud of myself for getting to a point where I can say that.

Holiday Healthy Habits

 

I would bet that during the days after Thanksgiving, Google sees a sharp increase in searches for weight loss tips and tricks. Most of us have been there: maybe went a little too hard on the sweet potato casserole and pie, feeling a little bit bigger than we’d like after, and hyperaware of the 5 holiday parties we have just around the corner. It can be tempting to let those negative voices push us towards some quick fix juice cleanse we found on Pinterest in a desperate effort to shed the 5 pounds we supposedly gained since Thursday. I’m here to gently push you in the opposite direction. We’re here for lifestyle change, and a normal healthy lifestyle necessarily includes (over)indulgence sometimes.

 

Our main goal here at Union Fitness is to encourage all of our members to adopt healthy, maintainable habits for the rest of their life. That means that sometimes we’re going to have days where we eat whatever we want (and a lot of those days come during the months of November and December). There is no shame in that, and it’s truly not something to worry about. The key is getting right back to your normal routine, avoiding those quick fixes you’re seeing in your Facebook ads. Here are a few “dos and don’ts” to keep in mind this holiday season:

 

DO: go right back to your everyday diet.

The holiday came and went, and it’s time to get back to your normally scheduled routine. Sometimes one day of total indulgence leads to a weekend, a whole week, or even a whole month of full-on binge eating, especially if you’re prone to black-and-white thinking patterns. If you find that you can either stick with your diet and training routine 100% or not at all, this is probably you. Remember that just like eating one salad won’t magically make you healthy, overeating one day won’t magically make you unhealthy either. Our health is determined by what we do regularly, and hopefully for you that means a diet with lots of whole foods!

 

DO: be realistic about weight gain.

Yes, I’m sure we’ve all put on a few pounds since Thanksgiving. Most of that weight is likely due to increased water retention and bloat (that’ll happen when you load up on carbs and sodium, like most of our favorite Thanksgiving foods). By getting back to  your normal routine, you’ll see that weight drop back down to normal ranges very  quickly.

 

DON’T: ever use a Pinterest cleanse or detox.

Just don’t. They’re all terrible. Your liver is really, really good at removing toxins from your body. A magical drink is not going to fix anything, and in reality will just make you more predisposed to binge when you’re “allowed” to eat again. Think long term.

 

DON’T: let the holiday season be an excuse to binge eat.

Humans are really great at rationalizing. “Well our work holiday party is next week, then my family holiday party is the following weekend. May as well just live it up for the next  month and get back to it for the New Year.” While this line of thinking is tempting to our baser instincts, it will absolutely set you back in your performance and aesthetic goals. In addition, the habit of binge eating is incredibly difficult to break: eating lots of food does make us feel good in the short term, but makes us sick in the long term. Humans are also really bad at long term thinking, so do yourself a favor and nip this one in the bud now. Every meal is an opportunity to feed yourself well and progress towards the health and fitness you want. Don’t let one or two meals stand in the way of that.

 

DON’T: turn to overexercising or fasting to negate your holiday eating.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you may feel the urge to fast or exercise a lot longer/harder than usual following a big meal. While these methods may feel logical in the moment (especially for black-and-white thinkers), they fall under the category of purging behavior. Despite what some chart equating a piece of pie with the exercise that will burn it off suggests, you don’t need to punish yourself for being indulgent over the holidays. It’s ok to enjoy your meal a little more than usual sometimes. Like getting in the binge habit, breaking the purge habit is similarly difficult, and can lead right back to binge eating. These are opportunities to practice some self-compassion.

 

Finally, DO: thoroughly enjoy the holiday season!

Food is far from the most important part of this season. We get to spend quality time with friends and family, give (and receive) gifts to those we love, enjoy the earliest and prettiest parts of winter, and take some time to relax. Every day is a gift. Enjoy it. Enjoy   every part of it, right down to your mom’s Christmas cookies and the champagne toast on New Year’s Eve. We only get so many.

 

 

 

Kickstarting Your Fitness Routine

 

The holidays are a highly inconsistent time of year. Between attending parties, traveling, and cooking, staying in a routine seems almost impossible. If this is the case for you, take your wins where you can get them. Getting a full 8 hours of sleep, drinking enough water throughout the day, getting 10,000 steps, or eating 2 servings of vegetables per day are small but can keep you on track throughout the holidays.

 

 

Maybe it’s been awhile since you had a good workout but you’re feeling less than motivated to get back to the gym. Each day that passes is another hurdle to overcome in getting active again, so don’t let one more day pass! Being in a slump is normal this time of year and you’ll probably have to go through the motions for a little while to get back in the swing of things. Know you’re not alone.

 

The best way to kick-start your fitness goals and keep them rolling:

 

  1. Don’t miss a Monday workout. Committing to your Monday workouts and starting the week on the right foot is just the motivation you need to stick with your schedule for the rest of the week and make healthier choices.

 

  1. Schedule your workouts in Google Calendar. Exercise is usually the first thing to go by the wayside when things get hectic. On days you know it’ll be tricky to squeeze in a workout, wake up early or plan a quick HIIT workout.

 

  1. Don’t do a workout you hate. Don’t like running? Don’t do it! Find alternatives that make you look forward to coming back, there are a million options to choose from!

 

  1. Go a little slower than you normally would and focus on form and technique. If you want to do push ups, do as many as you can with great form and finish with a modified push up to complete the set.

 

  1. Do a fraction of the workout you would normally do so that you don’t lose momentum before the workout is over. That way you feel a sense of accomplishment in completing what you set out to and know that tomorrow’s workout will be that much better.

 

  1. Go with a friend. Having a support system to encourage each other and be accountable can be a great way to get in a good rhythm.

 

  1. Remember that you ‘get to’ workout. You’re physically able to exercise, which is not true for everyone. Next time you’re tempted to complain or quit, keep that in mind!

 

 

Our Union Fitness Family wants you to succeed with your goals, big or small. Check out our Holiday deals! 

 

Black Friday Class Intro Pack- 6 classes/ $15 ($90 value)

*For use of each class type

November Special: Personal Training Pack- 5 sessions/ $99 ($250 value)

Gift Cards Available!

 

 

What to expect in our classes:

 

Yoga Foundations- A class for beginners looking to learn some yoga basics

 

Vinyasa Flow- All levels yoga class for strength, flexibility, and stress relief

 

Happy Hour Yoga- Get your down dog on at the end of the week (and head to that other happy hour after)

 

Spin- Fast-paced indoor cycling with instructors from Steel Revolution

 

U.Fit Bootcamp- 45 minutes of HIIT cardio and strength building using just your bodyweight

 

Fatbell Revolution- Strength training AND cardio in one class using our favorite implement – the Fatbell

 

#powerful- Get stronger and learn how to utilize the big barbell lifts in your training

 

Strength Foundations- A class for beginners looking to learn some strength building basics

 

Cardio Lab- A class for all levels who want to incorporate HIIT and bodyweight exercises