Serious change starts with making a serious commitment, whether that change means chasing a goal, advancing your career, getting into shape, or something else that’s just for you. The problem: we all struggle with following through on commitments sometimes. Commitment isn’t about making the promise at the start. It’s about keeping that promise in the face of foreseen and unforeseen hurdles. A promise without follow-through is never going to achieve results.

Let’s consider fitness. Showing up is great, but simply being present isn’t going to get you the results you want. Here are three quick ideas to help turn your promise into a real commitment:

Focus on Your Why

Next time you walk into the gym, or a fitness class, or you set out for a run, remember what brought you there in the first place. In other words, know your why. Was it to get in better shape? To feel good? To lose weight? Focus on the why and commit to fulfilling that purpose each time you set out to do something for you.

Leave Everything Else at the Door

Multitasking is a great way to get a little bit of everything half-done and nothing all the way done. Real results come from giving your full attention to one thing at a time. When it comes to fitness, it’s critical to leave your work, worries, and outside stressors where they came from. Take this time for you and commit to personal excellence during that class, gym session, or run.

Shake Things Up

Finding it hard to get motivated? Falling into a dull fitness routine or rut is a surefire commitment killer. This is the time to shake things up and commit to something new. Try a new class. Meet with a personal trainer. Sign-up for a running race, triathlon or fitness event that will give you a reason to work hard and strive for your goals.

At The Saint Paul Athletic Club, we understand commitment, and we work to provide ample opportunities for you to commit or recommit to something new. Check out our wide variety of group fitness classes, race-schedules, and coaching available to help get you turn a promise into results.

How Do I Balance Fitness, Nutrition and Life?

In this age of content explosion, it can be hard to know if what you are doing (in the gym, in the kitchen, and throughout your day) is truly benefiting your health and wellness. We are bombarded daily with new information/misinformation telling us how to eat, exercise, and live. What’s fact? What’s fiction?

One thing we know to be true: When it comes to balancing nutrition, exercise and life, keep it simple. Balance is hard enough; there’s no need to complicate things further. That means you should ignore the fads. Skip the crash diets. Be wary of the hot new supplements before they’re proven. Don’t mess with the body’s natural systems. Never go for the quick fix. In the long run, crash diets and fads and ignoring your body will not work and can be very dangerous.

If you want to achieve or maintain a healthy weight, improve muscle tone and strength, and/or pursue a healthier body overall, it’s critical to focus on positive daily changes that you can sustain for your life. Make small adjustments to your habits and lifestyle. Focus on what you can add instead of what you feel like you need to restrict (because restriction sets up a pendulum swing!) Instead of labeling foods as “bad” or “off-limits,” focus on adding in more nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein.

The bulk of your diet should be made up of healthy proteins, healthy carbs (think: vegetables), and healthy fats. If you are struggling with your nutrition, chances are that you are not following these simple recommendations. Overconsumption and quality of food are also very important in achieving a healthy balance, but here is a simple why to think about it: Your body burns calories all day, every day, and the amount of food you consume replenishes your body with energy so that it can function optimally. Your capacity for utilization of these nutrients is limited by the number of calories you burn each day, and it varies based on your activity level and how much muscle your body has. If you eat more than you need, your body stores those excess calories in the form of body fat.

The reverse is true too — but there’s a catch: Improperly fueling your body can have a negative impact and can cause you to lose muscle mass.

The number on the scale might be going down, but it could be water, muscle and fat that you’re losing. We don’t want to use muscle, because muscle increases the amount of calories we burn daily (the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn), increases bone mass and strength, stabilizes joints, and gives us our strength to do every task we do.

Here’s where exercise plays a critical role: The only way to avoid losing muscle is by strength training. Think you don’t have time? There are many ways to sneak strength training into your daily life, and not all of it requires physical weights. Your body is a built-in weight, and using it properly for strength training can go a long way. Not sure how to program for your workouts? Leave that up to us: Check out our group fitness schedule or talk with a trainer. We’re here to help.

How Can I Choose the Best Fitness Routine for Me?

Everybody’s different, and every body is different. The simplest answer to this question is to choose something that you will actually do. Sounds simple, right? But you’d be surprised how often people choose fitness programs that they’re not going to want to or be able to sustain. Choosing something you’ll stick with is the most important thing to keep in mind when committing to a workout routine.

If you like (or don’t mind) what you are doing, you’re far more likely to commit and stay consistent. Not sure what you like doing? Try out a bunch of different types of exercise and make the right decision for you.

Beyond simply choosing a routine that you’ll stick with, it’s important to consider a routine that matches your goals. Here are a few different types of common exercise routines along with more information about how they work and the benefits you may be able to achieve with each one.

Strength Training

Due to its wide range of health benefits, strength training is arguably the most important routine of all. Strength training, in short, makes you stronger and fitter. Obvious, right? Being fitter and stronger makes everything you do in life easier. There is not one physical activity you do in life that wouldn’t be easier if you were stronger (think: carrying groceries, fishing, walking, cooking – the list goes on forever), so building a stronger body means an easier life for you.

Strength training protects bone health, muscle mass, and stabilizes joints. At around age 30 we start losing as much as 3 to 5 percent of lean muscle mass per year thanks to aging. According to a study published in October 2017 in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, just 30 minutes twice a week of high intensity resistance and impact training was shown to improve functional performance, as well as bone density, structure, and strength in postmenopausal women with low bone mass, and it had no negative effects. Strength training also helps keep fat off for good, develop good body mechanics, help with chronic disease management, boost energy, increase mood, has cardiovascular benefits, and more. So, make sure you are adding strength training to your weekly routine.

Cardio

Cardio is essential for keeping your heart, lungs and circulatory system strong, efficient, and healthy. Alongside these heart-happy benefits, cardio is effective when trying to burn calories and burn fat. Done properly, cardio can an extremely beneficial addition to a workout program. Want the most bang for your buck and time? Make sure to incorporate interval-style training when executing your cardio routines. If you’re not sure how to start interval training, hop into a cardio class or meet with a trainer, where you will learn how to push your body for the results that you are looking for without wasting your time.

Having a rough day, week, or year? Cardio also has amazing benefits for your mental health; it can help reduce stress, relieve anxiety and depression, and build confidence and self-esteem.

HIIT

Time is one of our most precious resources, and high-intensity interval training is the best way to maximize your results with minimal time. Anaerobic interval training uses the body’s reserves of energy and, after a workout, metabolism stays elevated and continues to burn calories for hours. Not only does your body metabolize fat for fuel during the workout, but during the post-exercise recovery period after HIIT exercise, the body will tap into fat stores for the energy required to restore it to its normal resting state.

HIIT places a significant amount of metabolic stress on muscle tissue. As part of the repair process, the body will produce elevated levels of human growth hormone, testosterone and insulin-like growth factor-1 to repair damaged muscle proteins, which lead to increases in muscle volume and definition. To maximize your HIIT workouts, make sure your rest intervals are longer than your work intervals. You also need to make sure you’re working at maximal or close to maximal exertion levels. Remember: high intensity means high intensity. If you are looking to achieve results, you must work for them.

Yoga

Yoga practice has a multitude of health benefits. For many people, yoga provides a retreat from their chaotic and busy lives. Not only does yoga challenge the body physically through balance and breath, it challenges the mind mentally through thoughtfulness and awareness of one’s body in space. Yoga teaches mindfulness, which refers to focusing your attention on what you are experiencing in the present moment without self-judging.

Practicing yoga has been shown to increase mindfulness not just in class, but in other areas of a person's life. Yoga can also provide benefits including stability and balance, and can improve flexibility and help protect against injury. Yoga has been shown to increase the capacity for other forms of exercise due to its stress- and anxiety-reliving attributes.

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