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How to Optimize your Health & Fitness Routine this Summer!

How to Optimize your Health & Fitness Routine this Summer!

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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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!

  1. 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:

  1. 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)!

Upcoming races:

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.

Stephanie

Health & Fitness Enthusiast

How You Can Balance Work and Exercise

How You Can Balance Work and Exercise

As fitness experts, there are plenty of opportunities to educate people on how to live their best life. Health and wellness doesn’t just include exercise, but your overall well being. Recently, we were able to lend some life-balance tips to Corp! Magazine. Read on.


Think about fitness this way: a one-hour workout is only 4 percent of your day. A 30-minute workout is just 2 percent. No matter how busy a person’s life is, there is always a way to sneak in exercise during a busy day. The great thing about exercise is that it can be modified to fit each individual’s lifestyle and schedule. Here are some ways you can get more exercise into your schedule.

Switch up your lunch routine

For typical nine-to-five jobs, squeezing in a lunchtime workout is the most efficient way to go. Eat lunch before or after your workout, and then spend your hour on a walk, pumping iron in the gym or doing whatever activity you prefer. You’ll come back to the office refreshed, motivated and ready to finish the day strong.

Incorporate “deskercise” into your day

There are only so many responsibilities one person can handle. If your schedule is packed, find little ways to get in some exercises throughout the day. Find one minute to do push-ups, whether they’re at home or in your office (with the door closed). Take another minute during the workday to do triceps dips on the edge of a chair, push-ups against your desk, lunges or squats – whatever combination is best for you.

Connect with a fitness-minded coworker

Skipping a workout is difficult if you have a fit friend pushing you. Find the most fitness-minded person at your workplace and partner up with him or her to help reach your goals. It’s easy to make excuses for yourself. It’s not as easy to make excuses to another person. Plus, if they are at a different fitness level than you, it will be an extra push for you to not slack on your workout.

Schedule in a workout before work

For as hard as it can be to get out of bed early, morning workouts can be a real blessing. Once you get going, you’re jazzed up and feeling like you can take on the world. Thanks, endorphins! By the end, you start to think why you even thought about going back to bed. By raising your heart rate, you’re ready to take on the day with extra oomph. That’s one of the benefits of morning exercise – they give you energy to tackle the workday and have you going into your day feeling great.

Bring gym clothes to the office for an after-work sweat session

Not everyone is a morning person and sometimes after-work exercise can help ease the stress and anxiety the workday brings. Pack a gym bag with a few changes of clothes and throw it in your car or bring it to the office. You won’t have the I-forgot-my-gym-clothes excuse if you have a week’s worth of clothes in your bag.

Join a 24-hour gym

Not everyone has a nine-to-five job. If that’s your case, find a gym that’s open 24 hours so you have access to it whether you work out at lunch, before work or after work. There are benefits to having these types of hours, too. Depending on when you go, the gym could be all yours. No more fighting over free weights.

When it comes to working out, finding time to balance work and exercise is really about efficiency, problem solving and knowing what’s best for you and your schedule. If you’re committed to a fit lifestyle, however, you will find a way and make it happen, no matter what kind of obstacles you face.

7 Ways to Manage Stress in the Workplace

7 Ways to Manage Stress in the Workplace

As fitness experts, there are plenty of opportunities to educate people on how to live their best life. Health and wellness doesn’t just include fitness, but your overall well being. Recently, we were able to lend some stress-management tips to Corp! Magazine. Read on.


It probably comes as no surprise that 83 percent of Americans find at least one aspect of their job to be extremely stressful. Not only is this crazy amount of stress no fun, but it can be costly to your health and overall happiness. Eight hours at a job can take a toll on a person, and only 36 percent of American workers said that their organizations provide resources for managing work-related stress. If you are one that is not privileged with the resources, here are seven ways to cope with workplace stress.

Shorten your to-do list
Basically, prioritize your priorities. Set, small realistic goals each day. What should go on your to-do list that will actually help you reach these goals? Create a balanced schedule by considering your deadlines and what can wait. It makes no sense to try and tackle 30 things before even allowing yourself a morning cup of coffee.

Calm down
Get some perspective. Is this self-induced stress? Is it really the end of the world if your deadline is reached a day later? Don’t lose sleep over it, and don’t make your problems seem larger than they really are. Just stay in the moment and don’t worry about what the work day tomorrow will bring. There are some things that you simply can’t change or control, so communicate them with your team.

Be real
We all know that smiling and trying to win the unspoken friendliest co-worker on a daily basis is exhausting. Get rid of the distractions. Although the social aspect of the workplace is important for productivity and work culture, being busy may mean blocking out the distractors is necessary. Tackle what you need to. Others can read your stress, which in copious amounts can lead to unhealthy work relationships. And if you do have an issue with a co-worker, address it rather than letting it linger.

Try meditating
This practice seems ridiculous to some, but works on many. Take a deep breath. Take a few minutes to focus on your mind (guided meditations are all over the internet). This will help get rid of stress and help you focus.

Become self-aware
Recognizing what causes your stress can actually help you to problem solve better. Where were you, what was said, and who was there? Finding patterns of what causes you stress and your reactions is a useful strategy to manage stress.

Ask for help
Sometimes, the stress can become too much to self-manage. Consult with other employees or an employer with an issue that needs to be solved. If you are given an unrealistic deadline, tell your adviser or ask another employee for help. Believe it or not, asking others for help makes them feel desired and reiterates their abilities in the workplace. Everyone is happy.

If you ignore all of your stressors, you could be leading down a long road of unhealthy coping. Your stress can be the main contribution to addictive habits and your overall unhappiness. If your stress gets to be too much, even with these tips, it is always a good idea to ask a professional for help.

Fitness = Overall Wellness

Fitness = Overall Wellness

A lot of people start a fitness routine because they want to look better. (You look great, by the way.) But fitness is more than just how your body looks. Sure, it’s awesome to love the way you look, but fitness not only helps you achieve that, it also helps you love the way you feel.

That photo of Simone Biles or Michael Phelps may be the thing which gets you into the gym, but your overall wellness will be the thing which keeps you going. When you think about it, an hour a day for three days a week isn’t taking up much time at all. And for all these benefits you get, a regular fitness routine is more than worth it.

Changing the water cooler is no longer a hassle

Let’s start with the most obvious. As you train your body and muscles, you become stronger. That’s just a simple fact. So don’t let soreness deter you from pushing forward. As you sculpt and tone and your body gets responds to the work its doing, the constant or intense soreness will fade, which is a testament to the amount of strength you’ve gained.

Your mind will thank you

We all know about endorphins, the “feel-good chemicals” in our brain. Exercise produces endorphins, which can give you a mood boost, increase brain function, reduce stress, and relax your mind and body. So if your job is giving you extra stress, a morning or lunch-hour workout might curb those stressful feelings.

Tired by 3 p.m.? Not anymore! 

The more your heart adapts to working hard during exercise, the less it needs to work while it’s resting. This helps your body to conserve energy and leaves you less tired throughout the day. Just like the muscles you see in the mirror, the heart needs to be worked and strengthened, too. Like your heart, your lungs are conditioned to be more energy efficient. Think about walking up a flight of stairs when you haven’t exercised in a long time. Out of breath, right? Now think how much easier it is when you’ve been exercising consistently.

Your confidence goes through the roof

Confidence doesn’t just come from your superficial body transformation. It comes from your full-body transformation. By feeling better and even looking better, your confidence levels increase dramatically. You walk with a little more swagger, you’re more likely to speak up, you feel good about the work you do at your job, etc., etc. You find confidence in aspects of your life you never expected.

If you’re not already in a regular fitness routine, starting up and getting momentum can be a challenge. Just take things slow and remember that progress big or small is good progress. Over the course of a few months, you’ll be able to reflect on your achievements and affirm how fitness has shaped you for the better.

Superfoods: What Are They and What Do They Do?

Superfoods: What Are They and What Do They Do?

Within the past 10 years, one word which has scored some buzz is “superfood.” You see it listed on menus, on packaging and in advertisements. So, what is it and what makes this food so “super?” These foods got their name from the high number of nutrients packed into a small serving. For people who struggle with reaching their daily nutrient needs, superfoods are helpful and versatile. The can be used as snacks, sides or complete meals.

Here are more tips and information about these awesome foods.

200 calories in a superfood are different than 200 calories elsewhere

Superfoods are proof that not all calories are created equal. For example, you could have 200 calories of peanut butter cups and 200 calories of avocado and have your body react very differently to each. The peanut butter cups are packed with sugar, which eventually turns to fat, and provide only short bursts of energy followed by a crash. The avocado, on the other hand, is filled with healthy fats. Diet trends of the ‘80s and ‘90s made “fat” a negative word. The fats in superfoods, however, are nutrients your body needs. The fats in an avocado are essential in the key nutrient absorption it needs to sustain health and to assist the body in reaching its maximum potential.

Eating more doesn’t always mean better

With all your daily food intake, you have to be aware of how much you put in your body per day. To maintain weight, your calorie intake must equal your calorie output. The amount of food you eat during the day – no matter how “super” it is – matters. Your aim is to replace less-healthy foods in your diet with superfoods in order to optimize your daily nutrition.

They are easy to incorporate throughout your day

There are a number of different superfoods out there from which you can choose. If you’re just barely reaching your nutrient needs and want that extra push, a perfect solution is raw almonds, blueberries, edamame, strawberries, or a banana for a snack. If you’re really struggling with getting daily levels, start small by adding a superfood to every meal. It can be as easy as switching to a whole-grain cereal with fruit on top or adding a superfood as a side dish to your lunches and dinners.

There are a TON

With superfoods, you’re not doomed to eat nuts and avocados for the rest of your life in the quest to be healthy. There are myriad options you can add into your diet. Not everyone likes the same kinds of food, so if you don’t like one superfood, just move to the next. The different kinds of superfoods also mean diversity in your meals. You don’t have to eat the same thing over and over. You can choose a different superfood every day and even mix up how you prepare each superfood to come up with recipes which will keep your palette diverse.

Luckily for those looking to venture into the superfood realm, the food’s high-profile status has made it more accessible. A simple internet search will bring up all the foods, recipes and uses you need to make your diet a little more super.