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How To Start Meal Planning

How To Start Meal Planning

Exercise is important, but it’s only one of the lifestyle changes that can make a difference. In the world of fitness, the saying, “you can’t out exercise a bad diet” is frequently said, because it’s true. That’s where a healthy diet comes into play. One of the easiest ways to stick with a program of healthy eating is to ensure you have meals ready to go, so you opt for fast food or junk food options. That’s where meal planning shines. It not only helps you stick with a diet, but also can make life simpler once you’re started and save you money, too.

How do you start a meal planning program?

You plan your meals for the week! You can start by pulling up recipes first and creating a shopping list or check all the coupons for the week and the sales, then plan a healthy menu based on that information. The next step is creating a shopping list and buying everything at once. If you don’t have meal sized freezer containers, you need those, too. Shop on Friday, or right before your day off if you aren’t on a Monday-Friday work schedule, after a meal.

Why would you shop all at once?

Doing your shopping all in one day helps avoid frequent shopping, where there’s more opportunity for unplanned purchases, like bags of donuts, cookies and chips. When you plan your shopping trip after a dinner, you’ll also reduce the potential for those pesky items to jump in your shopping cart as you move through the aisles. It also prevents checking out empty cookie containers or half eaten bags of chips.

On your day or days off, you’ll cook all the meals for the week.

When you cook and freeze all your meals for the week on the weekend, you’ll just have to heat and serve during the week. That’s faster than a drive-through dinner. When you’re cooking all your meals at once, you can use many of the same ingredients for several meals, so you’ll have less waste. It’s just as easy to chop vegetables for several meals as it is for one, so you’ll save time, too. Cook and package the meals for the freezer and when it’s time to eat, just add your salad or fresh fruit.

  • When you package food for meals, you measure out the exact serving size. That helps with portion control that can help you stick to your weight loss plan. It also saves money by eliminating waste.
  • Plan for snacks. When you’re chopping vegetables for recipes, chop a few extras and make some dip. Prepare fruit ahead the same way. If it’s ready, people will eat it. Create individual serving size bags of nuts.
  • You’ll be able to take advantage of coupons and sales. If you have paper coupons, sort them before you leave to make check out easier and faster.
  • When you’re cooking ahead, double the recipes, so you have enough for another week. Before you know it, you can skip a week of cooking or make fewer meals on the weekend.

For more information, contact us today at Prime Performance


Quick and Easy Workouts That Can Be Done During Your Lunch Break

Quick and Easy Workouts That Can Be Done During Your Lunch Break

With everyone trying to pick up speed and get more done during the day, I have a lot of clients at Prime Performance in Totowa, NJ, asking for some quick and easy workouts to use on those days when there’s more work than hours left to do it. It happens and as I always say, “something is better than nothing, even though a complete workout is best.” If you don’t have the time for that complete workout, here are some exercises you can do when you’re rushed.

You don’t have to do everything at once.

Is your workout 30 minutes or longer? Break it down to several sessions throughout the day. Studies show that doing three 10 minute workouts are as beneficial as one 30 minute session. In fact, there was a study that put people into four groups. One group didn’t exercise. One group did a half hour a day all at once. The third group broke their routine down to two sessions of 15 minutes each and finally, the last group broke it down to three 10-minute sessions. Three of the four groups had the same benefits for weight lost and improved endurance. The group that didn’t exercise was the only one that didn’t benefit. Use smaller windows of time and get the same benefits.

Boost your intensity or weight to make workouts shorter.

You can cut your workout time when you increase your intensity. You can make it harder on yourself and workout less. By increasing your pace and/or amount of weight you lift, you cut your workout time. In fact, it’s imperative that you do to avoid overworking muscles. Pushing yourself to the max means workout time is shorter. Reducing the rest time between sets on interval training is another way to get more for your exercise time.

Do the four-minute nitric oxide dump.

What is nitric oxide? Nitric oxide is a vasodilator. That means it helps to increase the blood flow by relaxing the blood vessels, causing them to widen. That lowers blood pressure. Nitric oxide is boosted by exercise, and there’s a specific four-minute workout that you can do several times a day to help. It’s perfect when you just have a few minutes. Do it three times a day. It was created by Dr. Zach Bush and includes four simple moves, squats, arm swings, arm circles and overhead presses. If you’re trying to lower your blood pressure, combine it with your regular routine.

  • Compound moves ensure you workout more of your body in far less time. Compound moves involve several muscles and joints and can be just one exercise, like a basic squat or a combination of exercises done together, a lunge combined with a tricep extension.
  • Whether you’re breaking up your workout into sections or just trying to cut back time, writing the workout on paper so you have it in front of you is one way to do it.
  • Turn your chores into a workout. Speed up your workout. Do it with vigor. Exaggerate the workout to get more movement into it. Do deep knee bends as you’re washing the wall or march in place when doing dishes.
  • If you still don’t have the time, make sure your day is more active by taking the stairs, walking to lunch or parking further from the store to walk more.

For more information, contact us today at Prime Performance


Why Is Gut Health So Important?

Why Is Gut Health So Important?

Everyone fears bacteria and microbes, but in truth, the body is not only loaded with them, they’re important to our health. Your body’s microbiome gut health helps determine your overall health. In fact, you have more microbes in your body than you have cells. There’s a debate on how many, earlier estimates were a ratio of ten microbes for every human cell, today they think it might be closer to 1.3 to every one. The gut microbiome refers to those microorganisms that live in the intestines. There’s an estimated 300 to 500 different species. Some of those are harmful, but many are not only beneficial but necessary to good health.

It’s been said that our body’s microbiome should be considered an organ.

You need your lungs, heart and all your organs….but you also need those belly bugs called your microbiome. They’re more than just in the gut, they’re on the skin and genitals, too. They carry out vital functions in your body by digesting food so you can use the nutrients and boosting your immune system when the good bacteria kill off those that are detrimental to health. The microbiome even affects your behavior and is linked to the control of diseases like asthma, cancer, autism, celiac disease, colitis, diabetes, malnutrition, heart disease, MS, obesity and eczema.

There are a number of ways an unhealthy gut can reveal itself.

The most obvious way you know there’s a problem is digestive issues. Whether it’s gas, bloating, constipation, heartburn or diarrhea, it’s sign there may be a problem. Craving sugar may be another sign. Unfortunately, adding extra sugar also kills more healthy microbes, making you crave sugar even more. Constant fatigue, unintentional changes in weight, skin irritations, autoimmune conditions and even mood disturbances occur when there’s a problem with an imbalance.

How do you help improve your gut health?

Eat healthier and slower. Processed food, sugary food, food that’s high in fat or low in fiber affect your gut health negatively. Eating a healthy diet with lean protein and plenty of fiber, fruits and vegetables helps. Get adequate sleep. Lack of sleep has been shown to affect gut health. Something as simple as getting adequate water has been shown to improve the gut microbiome. Consuming food with live healthy bacteria, like yogurt and sauerkraut also helps.

  • If you have an intolerance for certain foods, such as dairy or grain, it might be a sign your gut health is out of whack. While food allergies are different from an intolerance, there’s also some evidence that allergies are also related.
  • Exercise has proven beneficial to overall health, but recent studies show it’s good for your gut microbiome, too. The study showed that after six weeks of exercise, it helped increase the “friendly” bacteria.
  • The gut makes 90% of some of the chemicals that affect our mental health, such as serotonin. Studies show that a healthy gut improves mental health. Since exercise improves gut microbiome, it’s just another reason that exercise helps your mood.
  • Chronic stress can also lower your gut health. Learn ways to control your response to stress. Learn to meditate, exercise, have fun with friends. Make your life fuller. Even adopting a shelter animal to keep you company if you live alone could help.

For more information, contact us today at Prime Performance


What To Eat On The Paleo Diet

What To Eat On The Paleo Diet

If you’re working out at Prime Performance in Totowa, New Jersey and want to increase your benefits by adding a healthy diet to the mix, you might have considered the Paleo Diet. Just what is the Paleo diet? Paleo is short for Paleolithic and it consists of the food that is thought people ate during that era. It’s also called the caveman diet. It’s a combination of food that was available to them. This era was before farming, and is thought to be more genetically matched to the body.

What can people on the Paleolithic diet eat?

Since it’s before the time of farming, grains, legumes and dairy are eliminated from the diet. During that period, man was a hunter-gatherer. The food available was lean meat, fish, fruit, nuts, vegetables and seeds. There was no refined sugar, vegetable oil or processed food, either, so those are automatically removed from the diet. Aside from the removal of dairy, legumes and grain, it mimics clean eating closely.

There’s little wrong with clean eating, so most of the food choices are excellent.

I’m a proponent of fresh fruit, vegetables and a lean source of protein. There’s nothing wrong with cutting out sugar or adding extra salt. There’s no reason to add unnecessarily add sugar, and the only reason to add salt is if you sweat a lot and need to replace electrolytes. That means, for most people, there’s no reason to add it to food before it’s eaten. Eliminating processed food from the diet is also recommended no matter what healthy diet you follow.

Are there drawbacks to the Paleolithic diet?

If you’re focusing on adding red meat, there’s a potential for consuming a higher amount of fat. That can increase bad—LDL—cholesterol levels. Additional red meat can also increase the risk of bowel cancer. Cutting out the grains can cause a decrease in calories from carbohydrates, since fresh fruits and vegetables are low in calories. That can lead to exhaustion if you’re working out hard. That removal of grains and dairy also decreases the amount of fiber, B-vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium and selenium.

  • Studies show that the weight lost is greater in the first three months of the Paleolithic diet than it is in other diets, but is the same after two years. The difference after two years is that the Paleo diet had better results at decreasing belly fat.
  • The Paleolithic diet also has proven superior to other diets when it came to controlling glucose tolerance and blood pressure. It was better for appetite management and lowering triglycerides.
  • You don’t have to follow a Paleolithic diet to get the benefits of eating more like a caveman. Simply cutting out processed food and including more fruits and vegetables is a start.
  • Cavemen also survived by walking to find their meals. They walked a lot. They only ran when were chased or chasing things. They lifted and carried heavy weights. Consider that part of your diet and include it into your lifestyle. You’ll be healthier for it.

For more information, contact us today at Prime Performance


What Does Healthy Mean To You?

What Does Healthy Mean To You?

Everyone has their own definition of what it means to have good health. For some, absence of illness is at the top of their list when it comes to a definition of what is healthy. To others, it goes much further and includes feeling good and participating in life fully. For those people it means taking care of themselves and doing what’s best for their own body. When you started your program of healthy eating and fitness, you probably wanted to be healthy as the base of the program. It’s time to ask yourself the question, “what does healthy mean to you?”

Is healthy just physical health?

Some people don’t include mental health in their definition, but it’s also important. Good mental health allows you to enjoy every minute of good physical health. Luckily, many of the things you do in the gym can also help you mentally. Working out hard can burn off the hormones of stress and lift your spirits. Several studies have found that exercise is good for anxiety and helps depression.

Good physical health involves eating healthy, getting adequate sleep and exercising regularly.

Basically, good physical health is all about living a healthy lifestyle. It’s about eating healthy meals and working out regularly, but even more than that. It includes getting adequate sleep, drinking eight glasses of water a day for hydration, having a good social life and dropping bad or addictive habits, like over consumption of alcohol, smoking or drugs. In order to achieve good physical health, you need these healthy habits.

Good health is just a resource for a better life.

If you aren’t healthy, it affects all aspects of your life. Getting healthier should not be the final goal, but used as a resource for a better life. It prepares the body to function easier in society and enjoy everything life has to offer. If you simply focus on eating healthy and working out, to the point of obsession, without considering its benefits outside of the gym, you’re missing the whole reason to get healthy, which is to live a fuller, longer and more pleasing life.

  • Good mental health includes more than just avoiding depression. It means the ability to enjoy life, achieve your potential and achieve balance. Your self-image should never be linked to body weight, which can lead to eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa.
  • One reason it’s important to look at your definition of healthy and reason for putting in the time at the gym is to remind yourself that while it’s important, it’s meant to improve your life, not to be your life.
  • Besides physical health and mental health, there’s also emotional, spiritual and financial health that can affect our well-being and are linked to both physical and mental health.
  • While optimism, eating healthy, exercise and all the other factors of living a healthy lifestyle makes a difference, there are some things you can’t control, such as genetics. A top priority should always be appreciating every minute of life, engaging in purposeful activity and focusing on what’s important in life.

For more information, contact us today at Prime Performance Fitness


Eating Cheap And Healthy

Eating Cheap And Healthy

Whether you live in Totowa, New Jersey or any place else in the world, eating cheap and healthy is possible. Too often, clients complain that it simply is too expensive to put healthy fare on the table. One of the reasons is that they believe that healthy food has to be garden fresh. While fresh fruits and vegetables are delicious, they’re not necessary for a healthy diet. In fact, there are ways to eat healthy that are far cheaper than opting for the inexpensive processed food you’ve been consuming.

There’s nothing wrong with frozen or canned.

Frozen fruits and vegetables are the easiest to use without fearing additives. Don’t worry that they don’t contain all the nutrients that fresh alternatives provide. They may even have more! Frozen fruit and vegetables are picked at their ripest and rushed from the field and processed immediately. They remain frozen until you choose to eat them, releasing their nutritious goodness. Unlike fresh veggies and fruit that are often picked before they’re ripe and transported green. They often sit on the grocery shelf for a while before you buy them and even longer before you eat them.

Canned goods can be just as healthy, but you have to read the label.

Sometimes, there are additives in canned vegetables and fruit. Check the label. For fresh fruit, look for those packed in their own juice, without preservatives or added sugar. Do the same for vegetables, but look for added salt, instead. If all you have available are vegetables with added sodium, drain and rinse them, heating them in fresh water to lower the sodium level.

There’s nothing cheaper than dried beans, when it comes to making a healthy meal.

Beans are a great source of protein and make a great option for meatless meals. They contain micronutrients such as, magnesium, potassium, iron, folate and zinc. Beans are low on they glycemic index, too. Beans provide antioxidants, plenty of fiber and lower your risk of heart disease. You can lower the potential for gassiness when you eat beans by soaking them with water that has added baking soda to lower the acidity and discarding the water. Sprouting the beans also lowers the amount of gas you’ll get when you eat beans.

  • Beans are legumes. There are a number of different types of legumes, such as chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, peas, lentils and pinto beans. You’ll have a lot of variety from which to choose.
  • Cutting the cost of meals can be as easy as using the leftovers to make soup every few days. You can air fry, broil, grill, boil or bake a chicken, use the meat on salads, as a main dish and even use the bones for bone broth.
  • Planning meals ahead will help you save money. It’s a good way to ensure everything you bought is used while it’s fresh and nothing goes to waste. You can double recipes and freeze half, to use later and save time.
  • Shop for in season produce and buy enough to freeze. If you pass a farmer stand, stop and see if the prices are good. Often, these small stands provide a lot for your money.

For more information, contact us today at Prime Performance Fitness


Are All Processed Foods Bad For You?

Are All Processed Foods Bad For You?

Today, the importance of healthy diet to your overall fitness and good health is well known. The American diet is known to contain a high amount of processed foods, foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients. That doesn’t describe all processed food. Some food needs to be processed to be edible. You wouldn’t eat soy beans in their natural state, but you probably would eat tofu and it would be healthy for you. To find out whether the processed food is healthy or not, you need to look at the ingredients on the label.

The fewer the ingredients, the healthier it is.

Frozen vegetables with no additional ingredients are actually as healthy as fresh ones. They’re frozen immediately and don’t have time to lose nutrients. Canned salmon or light tuna in water are healthy, too. If you want an easy snack that’s healthy, choose natural peanut butter where the only ingredients are peanuts and put it on apple slices. Fresh yogurt that’s organic and natural is a good option.

Canned vegetables might be a good option, too.

Read the label on the cans. Often they contain only the vegetable and some salt. However, that salt content may be high or if you’re on a restricted sodium intake, drain the liquid and rinse them first or choose low-sodium options. Rinsing them reduces the sodium by almost half. Canned tomatoes, spinach, green beans, kidney beans, lentils, pumpkin and artichokes are also good options. If you want to save money on fruit, opting for canned fruit could be perfect, but make sure you choose options in their own juice without added sugar.

What processed foods aren’t healthy?

Just reading the label should give you a clue whether the food is healthy or not. If sugar is high on the list of ingredients or it has ingredients that look like they belong in a chemistry lab, it’s not for you. Who doesn’t love luncheon meat or a pepperoni pizza? Your body doesn’t love it! White bread or food made with white flour doesn’t have the nutrients that bread made with whole grains. Opt for the most nutritious. You want nutrients not just empty calories.

  • Most snack foods are processed foods you don’t want to eat. They’re created to be addictive and make you want to eat more. It’s all about the ingredients it contains. No matter how much you want it to be, a potato chip isn’t a vegetable, but processed food.
  • Processed food that’s filled with chemicals to extend its shelf life isn’t healthy. They might extend the shelf life, but not your life.
  • Buying canned and frozen vegetables can save money and help you stay healthier. You’ll also save money by choosing fruits and vegetables that are in season or buying in bulk and freezing or canning the extra.
  • You’ll also save money by planning meals and shopping when you’re full. Eating healthy is an important part of fitness and will help you lose weight even quicker.

For more information, contact us today at Prime Performance Fitness NJ


Can Working Out Really Become A Habit

Can Working Out Really Become A Habit

Ask anyone at Prime Performance in Totowa, New Jersey about the benefits of making working out a habit and you’ll get similar responses. It’s extremely important to do that. It puts exercise on that automatic track, like having a cup of coffee or brushing your teeth in the morning. When it’s a habit, you feel like you’re missing something if you don’t do it and feel more compelled to do it.

Schedule your workout at the same time every day.

Make your workout a standing appointment. Put it in your planner or on your phone. It’s the only way to ensure you’ve carved out that block of time. Even if you’re tempted to reschedule your workout, unless it’s a super emergency at work or at home, don’t do it. You’ll be amazed at how people can find another time to fit you in their schedule. It’s a far better way to do it than trying to find time during a busy day. It also builds consistency.

While you might workout at the gym three or four times a week, exercise on your off days, too.

You don’t have to go to the gym every day. In fact, hard workouts every day aren’t recommended. Exercise can be as simple as taking a walk, riding a bike or doing stretches. You already have the time scheduled, so use it for something active. It could be something as useful as doing tough chores like washing windows, scrubbing the tub or even changing bedding. If you love dancing, turn up the music and enjoy. Just being active every day is important, even if you’re not going to the gym.

Be prepared every day.

Whether you have your clothing packed in your gym bag or lay them out, ready for you to put on in the morning, getting dressed is half the battle. No matter what time of day you workout, preparing the night before can ensure you’ll be ready if find yourself rushed. Once you’re ready for working out, don’t overthink it. Just do it. Whether you’re driving to the gym after work or taking a run the first thing in the morning, procrastination can be a killer to a workout program.

  • Start slowly and build after a few weeks. If you go no holds barred the first day, you definitely won’t feel like working out the second day. Instead, start slowly, focus on form and slowly increase weight, reps and intensity.
  • Enjoy your workout. Maybe you aren’t excited about doing bodyweight exercises, but love the kettlebell workouts. Add kettlebells to your workout schedule. There are so many ways to exercise, you don’t have to stick with something you hate to get fit.
  • Give yourself a challenge of working out every day at the same time for a week, then extend it to two and finally, six weeks. It takes anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to develop a habit, and six weeks might be enough for you. Each day you workout the same time, builds that habit.
  • Workout with a friend. A workout buddy holds you accountable and you’ll be more prone to workout. Bring a friend with you to Prime Performance and sign up for a group class. It will get you started right on the path to fitness.

For more information, contact us today at Prime Performance Fitness NJ


One More Rep

One More Rep

Only you can determine how quickly you’ll get fit and how much progress you’ll see. That’s because you are the master of your future and it’s done one workout at a time. It’s more than just showing up at the gym and mindlessly climbing on a machine. That’s not who we are or what we teach. It’s all about doing each exercise with thought and precision and when you don’t think you can do any more, doing one more rep.

A famous quote by Navy Seal David Goggins says it all.

Jesse Itzler wrote a book called Living with a Navy Seal, which described his experiences when he hired David Goggins to live with him and his family to help them learn mental toughness. Goggins taught Itzler and his family the “40 percent rule.” It’s a good lesson. “When your mind is telling you that you’re done, you’re only 40 percent done.” It’s all achieved by doing just one more rep….and then one more. .

It’s easy to quit when you’re feeling tired, but that’s when you should do just one more rep.

You’ll be surprised at how much energy you actually have left, even when you’re lifting weights or doing a kettlebell routine. Even if your mind is screaming for you to quit, doing one more rep can do more than build your muscles, it can build your mental toughness. Mental toughness is the commitment to keep going long after others may have quit. It’s the key to success, no matter what your endeavor. Whether you’re working out in the gym, studying for exams or building a new business, pushing past that brick wall of exhaustion, frustration or pain can help you get ahead of your opponents, competitors or even your own feeling of limitations.

Adding one more rep than you planned to do translates to success.

You’ll be amazed at how good you feel when you give it that little extra and what a difference it makes in your progress. Rather than focusing on just getting by, you start focusing on giving more. If you add one rep to every set, you’ll see your progress grow quickly and that builds self-esteem and determination to do even more.

  • Doing one more rep almost becomes addictive. It feels good to go above and beyond and brings a great deal of satisfaction by boosting your self-esteem. Just imagine how much progress you’ll make when you adopt this philosophy.
  • Just imagine how much you can accomplish when you focus less on how tired or frustrated you are and more on accomplishing one more thing. It’s that mental toughness that exercising can bring.
  • No matter what you do in life, often the biggest enemy is yourself. Too often people focus more on what they can’t do, than what they can do. I have seniors who timidly come to get into shape, half worried I’ll laugh at them. Once they begin, they become convinced age isn’t a barrier to fitness,
  • Come into Prime Performance Fitness and get a free evaluation. You’ll be surprised at how much you can do once you start our program.

For more information, contact us today at Prime Performance


Guardians Of The Gluteus

Guardians Of The Gluteus

If you’re focusing on getting a good looking backside, you may be working just the gluteus maximus, the most prominent of the muscles of the derriere. We help our clients in Totowa, New Jersey, focus on all the muscles of the area, including the gluteus medius, often called the guardian muscles.

Why are the gluteus medius important?

The gluteus medius run along the outer hip and are the primary ones to bring stability to the femur and pelvis. Strengthening these muscles help prevent pelvic drop or movement inward of the femur during weight-bearing exercises. If you’re running, when these muscles are weak, it can cause knee injuries, joint overuse, diminished stability and shin splints by allowing your back to twist in unnatural ways or causing your knees to collapse.

Using exercise bands can help strengthen the gluteus medius

You have to know the right exercises to do for those muscles, however. One exercise using bands uses a mini band about a foot across or tie a resistance band loosely to the same size. Place just above the thighs around both legs and do a quarter squat. Then start side stepping in one direction, letting the other leg slowly step in but not completely, keeping tension in the band. Step sideways ten steps in one direction, then do it in the opposite direction. Do this exercise three times a week and go for three sets to build the gluteus medius.

You can use this gluteus medius as a warm up for leg day or by itself to build the muscle.

You can use the same exercise band for this one. It’s a great warm up exercise that reaps big benefits. Put the band around both legs right above your knees. As you lay on your side, bend your knees. Touch your heels as you lift the top knee against the band. Hold for ten seconds or longer if possible, then lower your leg. Do approximately ten repetitions and then roll over with the other leg on top. Do three sets.

  • If you have knee pain, you definitely need to strengthen your gluteus medius. Try a lateral step down. You only need a step or box with just a few minutes. Stand sideways on the step and slowly tap the heel of the outer foot on the ground then bring it back onto the step. The higher the step, the harder it is.
  • The single-leg wall lean can be done anywhere you have a wall. Stand parallel to the wall, lift your leg and bend the knee to a 90 degree angle with the leg closest to the wall, pressing the opposite foot into the floor and the leg that’s bent into the wall.
  • If you want to make it more challenging, try a leg bridge or side plank with hip abduction. Both are tough and will challenge you and both require you to pay close attention to form, especially as you tire.
  • At Prime Performance, we’ll create programs to build all the muscle groups and focus on ones that are weaker. You’ll get workouts that are created especially for you and will help with any physical limitations or weaknesses.

For more information, contact us today at Prime Performance