How to Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) this Winter
Here we are, amidst winter, with no end in sight. Anyone else already over having temps in the negatives and the sky be consistently gloomy? I know I sure am.
One thing about winter I find particularly challenging, in addition to driving on slick and icy roads, is dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is “a type of depression related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer,” (Mayo Clinic, 2017). According to Mayo Clinic, this is caused by a change in your biological clock and/or a decrease in serotonin and melatonin levels primarily due to the lack of sunlight. Some of the symptoms include (Mayo Clinic, 2017):
Feeling depressed most of the day and nearly every day
Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
Having low energy
Experiencing problems with sleeping
Noting changes in your appetite or weight
Feeling sluggish or agitated
Dealing with difficulty concentrating
Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
HOW TO COMBAT SAD
There are many ways to combat SAD. You do not have to suffer through the rest of the season! Experts suggest light therapy (I personally love and use “happy light”), therapy, medication, and exercise. Research shows many people suffering from SAD are able to avoid their symptoms by incorporating 30 to 60 minutes of exercise and 20 minutes of sunlight each day (Summit Medical Group, 2016).
Exercise increases the production and release of serotonin in your brain, which many SAD sufferers are lacking (Ullrich, 2011). You can start to incorporate exercise by walking, running, weight lifting, or taking group classes, just to name a few. In addition to this, don’t forget to take some of your activities outdoors. Bundle up and get outside to sled, ski, snowboard, or just take the dog for a walk.
One suggestion I have for exercise would be kickboxing. CKO Kickboxing classes could be just the solution you need to add to your routine to help combat your SAD. The classes are 45 minutes to an hour of high intensity interval training and you’ll also be surrounded by motivating individuals who will help encourage you to keep coming back.
Let’s power through this Michigan winter and SAD!
Health and Fitness Enthusiast,
DISCLAIMER: This article is intended to raise awareness on Seasonal Affective Disorder and provides simple suggestions on how to combat it. This post should not be relied on for personal medical advice. Please be sure to consult with your doctor on any concerns to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.
This month’s member spotlight is Maureen McCormick! Maureen has been a CKO member since August and in that time has lost 35 pounds! Pretty amazing, right? I wish we could all give her a round of applause for taking charge of her health. This did not involve any weird pills or quick fix, crash and burn diets. Maureen is putting in the work and she’s reaping the benefits! How is she doing it? She has cut out fast food entirely and attends kickboxing classes at the new CKO South location.
Maureen shared that in the past she has tried everything from beach body’s 21 day fix program, t-25, buying TRX bands, working out at planet fitness, and also bought an elliptical for her home. This seems to be a familiar situation for a lot of people! She was looking for a magical pill to help her lose weight and she found that in CKO. Maureen says of the CKO classes, “the classes go so fast. You are drenched in sweat and held accountable. It is something I didn’t have before.” Before she would be doing a workout and give up because no one was there to push her to do her best.
Cutting out fast food from her diet has also made a huge difference for her over the last few months. Maureen admitted that she ate a lot of fast food and it quite frankly had become an addiction for her. Now, she has not had any fast food since August and does not plan to ever again! CKO is her new addiction (a much healthier addiction!). Let’s all give it up for Maureen as she continues on her health and fitness journey and continually improves her life!
I asked Maureen for any advice she may have for someone who is in a similar position as her before she started at CKO. She shared before she came to CKO she felt afraid and too overweight to make it through a class. After a lot of encouragement that it was just her and the bag and that no one else was judging, she finally went and fell in love with it. You are never too out of shape or overweight to take steps to make a change and achieve a healthier life.
If you are interested in making a change, just like Maureen has, sign up for a class and discover the amazing effects it can have in your own life! Click here for the GR location and click here for the South location.
It can seem impossible to get up early in the morning to workout before the rest of the day begins. However, when you do it is unbelievable rewarding. Not only are you starting your day off with a load of endorphins, you are saving time during the afternoon or evening that can be spent with family or friends, driving your kids from one place to another, or simply guilt-free time on the couch binge watching your favorite show.
Joining the early morning workout crew at CKO Kickboxing GR is a personal goal of mine. Completing my workout early in the morning allows for more time in the evening to clean around the house, make a nice dinner, or take our dog to the park. This is especially nice for my husband and I as we adjust to life as a newly married couple. Also and admittedly, I love telling people when I attend a boxing class at 5:30am or 6am in the morning. People are instantly impressed (#braggingrights).
I sought out CKO trainer, Tony Deakin, to see how he gets up early in the morning and kills his workouts. He offers us 8 tips on how we can join the morning crew with him:
Tip #1 Set an Alarm
Tip #2 Prepare the Night Before
Tip #3 Do NOT Hit Snooze
Tip #4 Eat Breakfast
Tip #5 Give it your all!
Tip #6 Wake up with a Shower
Tip #7 Stick with it!
Tip #8 Arrive to Class Early
Early morning workouts can be difficult to wake up for, but with the help of Tony’s 8 tips on joining the morning crew, we hopefully all will be attending an early morning class soon! Make sure you are prepared the night before, wake up with a shower and light breakfast, arrive early to class, give it everything you have on the heavy bag, and most importantly, stick with it!
Having an accountability buddy is an amazing way to get and keep motivated when pursuing your health and fitness goals. It is truly great to have someone who pushes you to keep going even when you feel like giving up! Bravo to those partnerships that have stood the test of time and keep proving out.
Accountability partners, however, are primarily about motivation, and they help you to establish a habit. The habit itself, partner or not, is what keeps you going. We may go through periods of time where our schedules are crazy, days and times we work out are inconsistent, and we just do not have time to keep in touch with another busy bee consistently. Or, maybe your accountability partner is unable to uphold their end of the encouragement and accountability.
Both scenarios have happened to me multiple times. I have reached the decision point where I need to be my own accountability buddy. I love surrounding myself with people who motivate me, but I know that people’s lives are busy and are constantly changing. The one constant you have in the situation is yourself. Here are tips on how you can be your own accountability partner:
Have a strong “why”
Why are you doing this? What are you trying to achieve? What will get you up every single day and say I need to do this? If you don’t have a strong “why”, you won’t have a fervent desire to maintain a fired-up focus or the push to make you someone else’s or your own accountability partner. Find your “why” and write it down. Display it somewhere in your bedroom. Program it in your alarm description.
Create a Fitness Account
Create a fitness account on Instagram and/or Facebook to document your health and fitness journey. Use this as a source of “checking in” on a regular basis. Snap a picture of your meals, take a shameless gym selfie, or share an inspiring quote. I have an Instagram account (@stephleigh_fitness) where I share my health and fitness progress and, of course, human struggles encountered along the way. I’m also able to find encouragement from the numerous health and fitness accounts I follow; we’ll call them silent accountability partners!
For some people, it helps to keep track of their exercise expedition by journaling about it. There are several ways you can effectively do this. One way is to simply log what you did for your workout and what you ate that day. Another way would be to share snippets about your day and use it in a similar way that you would use a diary. These are just two suggestions of how to use a journal to help keep you accountable, but the beauty of journaling is that you can use it however you want-make it your own!
Get Involved in a Community
This one is important to me. I have found that while I do not currently have an accountability buddy, being involved in a community focused on believing, achieving, and conquering fitness goals has pushed me further than I would ever do alone! CKO Kickboxing Grand Rapids is more than a place I go to exercise on a regular basis; It is a gym filled with encouraging trainers and inspiring fellow kickboxers. Their energy and consistency continually motivate me to attend classes and work even harder to reach my goals.
Having a pal on the heavy bag next to mine can be incredibly motivating and a lot of fun too; However, it doesn’t always work for everyone or all the time—especially when you need an extra push to hustle for that muscle. When you don’t have a pal to keep you accountable, remember: You have yourself and there are things you can do to be your own accountability partner because the way you train should ultimately be the way you live
Overall, it has been a muggy summer for us Michiganders, with many days seeing humidity above 90 percent. Fortunately this has made for perfect weather when hitting the lakeshore! However, this has also made us more susceptible to dehydration and if you have been working out, you are even more at risk (Team, G.C, 2013).
I myself have fallen victim to dehydration in the past months. I have not been drinking enough water for my body, activity level, and the temperature and nearly fainted during a kickboxing class. You may be experiencing dehydration, as well, if you have noticed any of the following symptoms (Mayo Clinic, 2016): Extreme thirst, less frequent urination, dark-colored urine, fatigue, dizziness, and/or confusion.
I’ve never truly been worried about proper hydration, but I can assure you it is not something to be taken lightly. Dehydration can lead to severe complications which can even be life threatening. Examples of complications which may occur include heat injury, urinary and kidney problems, seizures, and low blood volume shock (Mayo Clinic, 2016). I believe it’s safe to say we all prefer to avoid any of these complications! So, what are a couple things we can do to prevent dehydration?
Fluids, fluids, and more fluids
Continuously consume water-based drinks throughout the entire day with very little to no added sugar or artificial sweeteners. It’s important to note here that the suggested amount of eight eight-ounce glasses per day is not necessarily what your individual body needs. Each person must listen to their body, thirst level and, yes, monitor the color of their urine (Mazziotta, J., 2015).
If you regularly work out, there are several things you can do to prevent becoming dehydrated. One tool provided by Camelbak is their Hydration calculator. You provide information such as your gender, weight, height, age, weather, and temperature, etc., and it provides you with an approximate amount of ounces of water you be drinking per hour. Another way to prevent dehydration is the weight test (The University of Utah, 2017). For this test you need to weigh yourself right before your workout and right after. “If you weigh 150 pounds before exercising, but weigh only 148 pounds after exercising, you have lost two pounds of water weight,” (University of Utah, 2017). It is recommended that to replenish the fluid lost, you should drink 3 cups of water for every pound lost during the workout.
There are several creatively cool and easy-to-use apps to keep you on the hydration straight and narrow. The apps can even send you notifications to remind you to drink more water throughout the day. I have used the apps Waterlogged and MyFitnessPal in the past to help track my water intake. If you have a Fitbit or Apple watch, you can also use the apps provided by both companies.
Dehydration is a serious matter and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Leverage simple guidelines and helpful technology to ensure you are properly hydrated for the times you really need it, like river tubing, boating, hiking, and cycling in the warmer months. Stay safe and drink up, my friends!
Stephanie, Health & Fitness Enthusiast
DISCLAIMER: This article is intended to raise awareness on dehydration and should not be relied on for personal medical advice. Please be sure to consult with your doctor on any concerns to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.
How to Optimize your Health & Fitness Routine this Summer!
Summer has officially begun and for most, many evenings and weekends are filled with barbeques, laying out by a pool or the beach, attending weddings and open houses, or vacationing with family and friends. It can be easy to get caught up in these fun summertime activities and leave exercise out of the picture. However, summer is one of the best times to optimize your health and fitness routine. The warm weather, fresh produce, and local activities can help you reach new goals and implement new routines and habits which stay with you all year long. Here are four tips on how you can optimize your health and fitness routine this summer:
Schedule your workouts
One suggestion is to pull out your calendar each week and fill in your work hours, planned activities, and when and where you plan to work out. You can schedule these in a regular planner, phone calendar, on a workout scheduler app, or even planners that are designed specifically for workout and nutrition notes. I personally like to use my phone calendar along with mobile apps. I’m able to view my work calendar, social calendar, and CKO class schedule through the mobile app, all on my phone. Choose a method which will work best for you and keep you accountable.
Take advantage of these warmer months by getting active outside! During your lunch break, get some fresh air and take a walk. After dinner, go out for an evening stroll. If you have children in your life, go out in the yard or park and play with them. Ride your bike, run, or rollerblade around your neighborhood or along the 15-mile paved pathways that Kent Trails offers. Go hiking and take in the beautiful sights that Michigan holds. Take a fitness class on the Blue Bridge. Swing dance in downtown Grand Rapids. The options go on and on. Get out there now and enjoy it while you can!
There is a plentiful amount of fresh fruits and vegetables available to us locally in the summer. Fuel your body with these fresh foods and simultaneously help our local community. You can even turn this into a fun summer activity by visiting u-pick farms. Several farms in or near Grand Rapids let you pick your own blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, and apples.
When you sign up for a race, you’re giving yourself a goal to work toward which has a set day and time you need to be prepared. For those days when it’s hard to get yourself moving, you will think about the race you’ve committed to and hopefully be given the motivation to get up and move. For the past few years I have done The Color Run. This race is a high energy 5k and provides me with encouragement throughout the summer to mix up my workouts by incorporating running. Plus, it’s another way I get outside and enjoy the weather (as the second tip suggests)!
Are you engaged and preparing for your upcoming wedding? Congratulations! I am also engaged and gearing up for my wedding day, August 19. Wedding planning is all-encompassing: overwhelming, fun, exciting, and emotional. People constantly offer their words of wisdom, refer their favorite vendors, and impart advice relative to what you should and shouldn’t be doing before, during, and after the big day.
One recurring piece of advice I see and hear is to get to the gym prior to the big day. I am 100 percent for #SweatingForTheWedding; however, this is not another article about why you should shed a lot of weight before your wedding. You will be beautiful or handsome, glowing, and vibrant on your wedding day regardless of the number on the scale or what other people try to tell you. Ignore anyone who or anything which asserts differently.
Here are three reasons why you should be #SweatingForTheWedding with me at CKO Kickboxing:
There is no denying that wedding planning will likely create extra stress in your life. CKO is my favorite place to relieve this built-up stress. I am able to punch away many of my frustrations!
Working out consistently builds confidence, thanks to the mood-boosting chemicals released through high intensity exercise. I know it certainly increases mine! When I get into CKO several times a week I feel strong and healthy. It also fortifies my general confidence to better handle other challenging tasks in my day, such as choosing which wedding dress I want to walk down the aisle in!
Improve Overall Health
The last thing you want for your wedding day – even over rain – is to be sick! Exercise improves immunity, so your risk of falling ill in the final days leading up to your nuptials is minimized. One example is a study of 1,000 people, reported by BBC news, which found “staying active nearly halved the odds of catching cold viruses,” (BBC News, 2010).
Congratulations again on your engagement, and I hope to see you #SweatingForTheWedding soon at CKO Kickboxing! I’ll save a bag for you.
Health & Fitness Enthusiast
Roberts, Michelle. “Exercise ‘can Prevent a Cold’, a Study Shows.” BBC News. BBC, 02 Nov. 2010. Web. 04 May 2017.
What’s the first thing you think of when you hear someone talking about meal prep? Maybe it’s that friend of yours on Facebook who is constantly posting about how they meal prepped for the week. Or maybe it’s those hundreds of meal prep pins on Pinterest you swore you were going to start doing “next week.”
For me, preparing meals was something I thought was only for those who were about to take the stage in a bodybuilding competition. Until I tried it myself. Today, I consider meal prep a way to save time and money, as well as a foolproof way to fuel my body with healthy food all week long. It takes a load off my busy schedule during the week when I’m rushing off to work, whereas before I would stare into the fridge not knowing what to pack to ensure I was equipped with adequate nutrition for the whole day. Now I don’t stress; I just grab it and go.
After the first week of meal planning in my routine, I couldn’t help but ask myself why I hadn’t done this sooner! If you don’t already include meal prep in your life, it’s time to overcome any hesitation because this can benefit everyone! Below are some tips and tricks on how to get started:
As Nike says, just do it!
While I was hesitant about meal prep, part of the reason I didn’t start for so long was out of pure laziness. I had an excuse of why not this week or how I needed to do more research to be fully prepared. Blah, blah, blah. Put aside the excuses and just do it.
Get meal prep containers
This is something you don’t need to do but I think it helps to have specific containers you put each individual meal and snack in. This saves time during the week so you do not have to portion out servings each day.
Mix it up
The biggest excuse I hear from people not meal prepping is that they don’t like to eat the same thing every day. Meal prep doesn’t mean you must eat the same thing for every meal during the week. I personally do this for breakfast and lunch, but I mix up my snacks and dinners for overall variety. One way you can avoid the monotony is to do four days of the same meal and three days of a different meal. Or, just make sure you are preparing enough meals to cover breakfast, lunch, and dinner for your week, then store it in the fridge or freezer, choosing what you want from that batch each day.
Prep your schedule
Meal prep can initially be time-consuming, so ensure you know what day and time you are planning to go shopping and prep it all. If I don’t schedule it, I know I will put it off and it won’t end up happening. Sunday late afternoon is my go-to day and time to grocery shop and meal prep for the week. It starts the workweek off on a good note! Everyone’s schedule is different though. Do what works best for you.
Prepping every single meal for the week in one sitting can be a little overwhelming at first. Start with prepping only your breakfast for the entire week or only your lunch. After you start to get the hang of it and in a routine, add another meal or snack to the prep. Soon meal prepping will become a habit!
Meal prepping your meals for the entire week can help save you time and money, plus keep you fueled with healthy food all week long! It’s time to put aside the excuses and hesitation and give meal prep a try.
In order to fuel your body, you need a nice balance of nutrients.
In order to execute powerful, tight strikes, you need to have a strong center of gravity.
In order to manage stress, you need a healthy work/life balance.
When it comes to health and wellness, balance is at the core. And just like your diet, your center of gravity and your life, your muscles need balance. Here is why paying attention to all your muscle groups and making sure they’re balanced is so important to a healthy lifestyle.
Muscle Imbalance Throws Off Your Entire Body
Your body is this amazing machine. Each piece of our anatomy does its own part to make sure the body can do the simplest to largest tasks. There’s a reason why you don’t need to remember to breathe or deliberately think about every step you take. Your body already knows. That’s why, without balance, your body has to overcompensate for the weak areas. If you only work on abs and forget the rest of your core (back, obliques, hips, glutes, etc.), your posture is going to be off, which will lead to back pain. If you injured your knee and don’t rest it long enough, your other leg will overcompensate. Trust us, you will notice when something is wrong. To keep your body operating at peak performance, learn to read pain signals and understand when something is off. Work with a physical therapist to identify weak areas and incorporate exercises to strengthen them. These things will help your body be better in tune with itself and create harmony.
Your Muscles Need Time to Rest and Recover
You may think that working a muscle every day will help it develop quickly, but that’s the last thing you should be doing. The way muscle growth works is that the strain put on your muscles creates tiny tears in the muscle fibers. In order for the muscles to strengthen, they need time to repair and recover. If you alternate the muscle groups you work, it gives every group a day to recover. Adding in three-to-four full-body workouts like the kind we do at CKO guarantees that every muscle gets equal attention. Add in at least one active rest day a week to make sure your muscles are getting the rest and recovery they need in order to get stronger.
Mapping Out Your Workouts Help with Balance
Creating a weekly workout plan will help you keep track of the muscle groups worked and give you the most balanced exercise routine as possible. Make each day’s focus a different muscle group, while incorporating full-body workouts into the weekly schedule. Sticking to a workout calendar will not only help keep you balanced, but make it more likely for you to stick with your fitness plan. There are plenty of fitness apps available for free to help you create and map out weekly workouts.
By keeping your body balanced, you will be able to get maximum results, reduce the chance of injury and feel all-around awesome.
Childhood obesity is a serious issue often overlooked in this country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity rates have increased by more than 10 percent in the past 30 years, while the rates in teenagers have quadrupled in the same period.
There are several reasons why these numbers have increased. In America, cheap, highly accessible, nutrient-deficient foods have become more prevalent. In fact, a National Center for Health Statistics study found that more than a third of American children eat fast food every day.
We are also living in a different world where both parents are working. In the 1940s, only 10 percent of mothers held jobs. Today, women make up half of the workforce. With both parents working full-time or part-time jobs, it can be easy to swap health for convenience.
Stock up on easy-to-pack fruits
To get the vitamins and minerals fruit provide, opt for quick-grab options. Bananas, apples, peaches, pears, and more are examples of healthy foods that travel easy. They need no preparation and can be tossed into a lunch box or backpack on their own. (Just remember to wash your apples!) For picky kids who prefer their apples sliced, you can find pouches of pre-sliced apples at the grocery store.
Encourage outdoor time
Television and video games are fun, but they are rooted in a sedentary lifestyle. Balance indoor and outdoor activities by allowing one hour of TV and/or fun outdoor video games for every hour outside (weather permitting, of course.) Surprise your child with a new soccer ball, sidewalk chalk, water toys, etc., so they associate the outdoors with fun and exciting play. Make time to go outdoors with them or allow them to invite friends over for group play.
Get your kid involved in sports
It’s no surprise that youth sports offer tons of benefits. Not only do kids get the exercise benefits of sports, they learn how to work with others and how to display good sportsmanship. Studies have shown kids who participate in team sports earn better grades and are more likely to be accepted into college.
Limit fast food consumption
Fast food chains might be an easy and cheap solution to meals when you’re in a time crunch, but we don’t need to go into how bad they are. (We know you already know.) You don’t have to take away fast food completely, but limit how many times a month you order from a restaurant.
Get junk food out of the house
Like fast food, junk food – options usually loaded with refined sugars, bad fats, and preservatives – is easy and convenient. The come pre-packaged and travel well. But for the amount of time it takes to put Oreos in a bag, you could fill that same bag with carrots, red peppers and celery. Snack smart. Stay away from the chips and cookies aisle completely so you won’t be tempted.
Be a role model
None of these tips matter unless you make wellness a priority in your own life. If your kids see you prioritizing fitness and health, they will be more likely to do the same. If they don’t see you leading by example, the message is it matters. The best solution to this is to do as much with your child as possible. Eat healthy foods with them, play outdoors, and include them in your favorite healthy activities. The more effort you put into a healthy lifestyle, your mini-me will do the same.
Modeling a healthy lifestyle for your child is a habit they will thank you for as an adult. Healthy children are more likely to become healthy adults, while obese children and adolescents are at a higher risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, various cancers, stroke, and osteoarthritis. If you’re looking to make a change in your family’s health, the time is now.