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
Stephanie, Health & Fitness Enthusiast
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.
Team, G. C. (2013, March 20). Dehydration and heat: how hot weather could be dangerous. Retrieved from https://gastrolyte.com.au/dehydration/dehydration-and-heat/
The University of Utah (2017). How to Prevent Dehydration. Retrieved from https://healthcare.utah.edu/wellness/news-resources/dehydration.php
Mayo Clinic (2016, October 29). Dehydration. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/symptoms-causes/dxc-20261072
Mazziotta, J. (2015, September 16). The Amount of Water You Actually Need Per Day. Retrieved from http://www.health.com/nutrition/the-amount-of-water-you-actually-need-per-day
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.
- Get outside!
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!
- Visit farmer’s markets and local farms
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.
Local u-pick farms:
- Sign up for a Race
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)!
Michigan summers are wonderful, fun, and full of adventure. You can enjoy it all and still optimize your health and fitness routine at the same time.
Health & Fitness Enthusiast
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.
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.
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.
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.
We talk about balance a lot at CKO.
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.