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A New You!

Posted January 23, 2013 in Waukee

Ushering in a new year often means ushering in a slew of new year’s resolutions — get fit, lose weight, eat healthy. Sometimes getting started can be overwhelming. It’s a challenge to take on a ton of new habits at once, but just taking some baby steps in the right direction will lead to better health. Waukee has a ton of resources available for those who are interested in eating better and being more active, so here’s to your health!

Anytime Fitness manager Megan Brittain says you don’t have to spend three hours in the gym, but get started doing something, even if it’s 20 or 30 minutes a few times per week.

Anytime Fitness manager Megan Brittain says you don’t have to spend three hours in the gym, but get started doing something, even if it’s 20 or 30 minutes a few times per week.

Getting fit
For many people, the hard part when it comes to getting fit is just getting started. For a lot of us, we aren’t sure where to start and the whole process seems overwhelming, so it’s easier to just keep putting it off…. and putting it off. Megan Brittain, manager at Anytime Fitness, says she tells people to just get going and take it one step at a time.

“We believe that you don’t have to spend three hours in a gym,” she says. “Thirty minutes two or three days a week is a great place to start for people who are just getting going.”

At Anytime Fitness, clients can get going with a fitness consultation where staff members will take measurements and get a baseline on where they are fitness-wise. They can help you set goals and figure out what you want to achieve through exercise. A free personal training session is also included.

Britain says start out easy, and then work your way up as you can. If you come in every day and do the same exercises over and over for the same length of time, you’ll stop seeing results. Your body will get used to the level of exertion, so it’s important to mix in new things. It’s important not to expect immediate results, though, because it can take some time for the scale and body to reflect your effort.

Look into an exercise routine that incorporates all three of the main components of fitness — cardiovascular conditioning, strength and flexibility. Group fitness classes can be a great way to stay motivated since the energy in a class can be more motivating than working out alone.

“People ask about cardio a lot, and it’s a great place to get started,” Brittain says. “But the way we set up a strength training session, you move through those exercises quickly enough that your heart rate stays up and you don’t have to do a bunch of cardio after that. You can hit two birds with one stone.”

Another thing to consider when choosing a workout program or facility is convenience. Make sure it’s close and it offers flexibility. Eliminate the excuses of having to drive too far to work out or not being able to find a class that fits into your schedule.

For those who have been exercising, moving to the next level can be a challenge. Brittain says people should be focused on working large muscle groups for the fastest and best results. As you get better, think about duration of exercise, increase intensity, increase the amount of weight you’re lifting, add new variety, incorporate interval training, cross train or just add something new.5D3_7414

When it comes to staying motivated, it’s important to celebrate milestones. Find something you enjoy. You’re going to be more likely to stick with it if you like it. Brittain also recommends writing down your goals — specific goals — and action steps you’re going to take to achieve them. You’ll be more likely to stick with it if you have a clear plan.

“People want to be healthy or eat better, but if you don’t get into more detailed, then vague is easier to blow off,” she says. “Use solid numbers. As far as staying motivated, the other thing you can do is write down the workouts you’re doing. People do the same thing over and over, and it gets boring, and your body gets used to it. Do one more rep, go up a weight, increase duration and try to improve, and you’ll see better results, and that’s definitely the most motivating.”

Good eats
Of course exercise is important when you’re trying to get more fit, but experts will tell you 80 percent of weight loss and being healthy is related to nutrition and diet. With so many schools of thought out there — only eat protein, don’t eat carbs, don’t eat dairy, only eat certain foods — figuring out the diet portion of things can also be a challenge.

Sara Schwertfeger

Sara Schwertfeger

Dietitians are a great resource when it comes to making healthy food choices. Sara Schwertfeger, RD, LD, CLT, has clients all over the metro and offers programs like a clean kitchen makeover, sports nutrition advice, and group and corporate workshops on healthy eating.

For people who want to get started, Schwertfeger recommends people look in the mirror.

“It starts with themselves,” she says. “They need to decide how motivated they are, what is the real reason for wanting to get healthy and will this reason last? Finally, are they ready to make habits, not goals? Habits are long lasting where goals come and go.”

Everyone’s healthy eating and healthy being is different, Schwertfeger says. People may need to seek out a dietitian to help make a plan that fits for them. Then seek out reputable sources such as or find a dietitian to find helpful and educated info. A lot of healthy eating is just being educated and planning a little.

Schwertfeger says though there are many fad diets out there, there is no quick fix. The best way to eat is a balanced diet full of  fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean proteins with each meal.

“When filling your plate, focus first on produce to fill half, then on lean protein for a fourth, and a whole grain for a fourth,” she says. “Add a small amount of healthy fat such as olive oil on a salad, avocado on your eggs, or peanut butter on your oats. One things you can never go wrong with is eating as close to nature as possible. The shorter the ingredients list or no ingredient list at all, the better.”

It’s important to eat breakfast to get your metabolism going and also to give you some brain food to start the day. Skipping meals can lead to over-eating later in the day, and therefore, lunch and breakfast are also very important meals. It’s also important not to be too restrictive.

“Find healthy habits that you can maintain and be successful with,” Schwertfeger says. “Don’t set yourself up for failure, lose motivation, and then quit.  This goes back to making habits that are long lived not quick fixes.”

Also, sometimes it’s not what you take out of your diet, it’s what you add to it. Schwertfeger recommends healthy foods like chai or flaxseed or cooking with coconut oil.

Schwertfeger says registered dietitians are your nutrition experts and will be your most trusted source for nutrition information. If you are ever questioning the nutrition information in front of you, check to see who the source is. Above all, no matter what diet plan you use, give yourself time to see results and to start to feel better. That’s the best motivation to stick with it.

Success stories
Gail Davis was already exercising regularly when he decided to kick his fitness level into high gear the past fall. The 60-year-old was motivated by the desire to get fit and healthy enough to ditch the medications that he was on for high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

“I ran into Melissa from Max Life Fitness, and we talked about it me getting started there,” he says. “I wasn’t sure if I could do it, but I gave it a try, and I’m hooked.”

Gail Davis, left, with staff member Shawna Weis, is excited by the progress he’s made since starting to work out at Max Life Fitness. He hopes soon he’ll be able to drop his medications for high blood pressure and type two diabetes. Bottom left: Classes at Max Life Fitness are always different, so it’s hard to get bored.

Gail Davis, left, with staff member Shawna Weis, is excited by the progress he’s made since starting to work out at Max Life Fitness. He hopes soon he’ll be able to drop his medications for high blood pressure and type two diabetes. Bottom left: Classes at
Max Life Fitness are always different, so it’s hard to get bored.

Max Life Fitness offers classes that focus on a wide variety of exercises, including burst training, kickboxing, cardio, yoga, and strength training. No two workouts are identical. Davis says he got going with the gym’s 40 Day Revival and has stuck with it to see some amazing results. He’s gone from 25 percent body fat to 18 percent body fat, and he’s lost inches.

“I’ve already cut back on the medication, and I’ll find out soon if I can drop it altogether,” he says. “I feel 10 times better than before. I rode the bike and thought I was in shape, but I found out in a hurry that I wasn’t. My stamina and endurance have increased tremendously.”

For those thinking about starting an exercise program, Davis says to just do it. Don’t let fear of failure hold you back. He also echoes those who say start small — no one can change everything at once.

“They do a great job of working with you not only on fitness but on your diet, too,” he says. “It’s nothing that you buy from them; it’s just going to the grocery store and getting the right foods. It’s at your pace and change things one at a time. Don’t change it all at once. Start changing your diet slowly and keep making changes.”

The biggest benefit Davis has seen, apart from the ability to decrease his medications, is that he feels so much less stress. He’s calmer, and he feels better overall.

“It is such a stress reliever,” he says. “I’m more calm and relaxed than I’ve ever been. I can go there and get it all out at the end of a day of work. That’s worth it.”

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