3 New VASA Locations Coming March 2021!

We are excited to be opening our 3 newest locations in March!

We believe fitness is for everyone, and can’t wait to expand our VASA family a little more. Come join us for our Grand Openings to see what healthy, strong, and happy is like at VASA.

 

Grand Opening Details:

Phoenix, AZ

Monday, March 1 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Phoenix, Arizona, 8021 N 35th Avenue

Herriman, UT

Saturday, March 13 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Herriman, Utah, 13366 S 5600 W

Westminster, CO

Monday, March 15 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Westminster, Colorado, 7353 Federal Blvd

 

Want more information on these new locations? CLICK HERE to read an interview of our CEO Rich Nelson in Club Solutions Magazine, or CLICK HERE for our official press release.

Don’t forget to follow us on social for updates, and more! Click below to get started.

The post 3 New VASA Locations Coming March 2021! appeared first on VASA Fitness.

Original source: https://vasafitness.com/2021/02/3-new-vasa-locations-coming-march-2021/

Balance Exercises For Seniors

Balance Exercises For Seniors

We spend most of our lives taking our sense of balance for granted. We don’t have to consider that it’s there until, one day, we notice that it’s starting to slip. This tends to come as a surprise when, all of a sudden, we may develop balance issues and aren’t able to perform the actions we once considered easy. 

This is but a beautiful piece of the human experience. Recognizing that our bodies require love and care as we age is a gift we can only give ourselves. And taking the time to maintain our bodies’ capabilities is so important for—not only physical health—but also mental and emotional health. 

The simple act of showing your body that you want to care for it by taking those steps to maintain it is a long-term investment, one that can begin with an article like this one. Here we’ll provide seven balance training exercises for seniors in order from easiest to hardest so you can build toward your goals with your body’s needs in mind. 

Head Rotations

When trying out a new exercise regimen, keep it simple. It’s easier to work up to something more difficult than it is recovering from pushing yourself too hard. 

The head rotation is straightforward: look side to side five times each way, up and down five times each way, and make a circle with your nose to rotate your head clockwise and counterclockwise five times in each direction. 

The goal of this exercise is to perform it while standing with your feet hip-width distance apart without any support, but if that sounds even a little bit intimidating, try it sitting down first in a chair with arms to support you in case you need it. Then, try it standing while holding onto a chair, railing, dresser, or the hands of a loved one. 

If you move through this too quickly, you will get dizzy, so be slow and mindful when performing this exercise. If you’re moving as slowly as you can and still feel dizzy, you may want to skip this exercise altogether. You know your limits. Trust your body and your judgment. 

Shoulder Rolls

Our next movement may also seem simple, but it’s a surefire way to activate your connection to the floor with your sense of balance. 

Standing with your feet hip-width apart, bring your shoulders forward, up toward your ears, pinched together at your back, and back to neutral. Start with ten forward rolls and ten backward rolls. 

When you feel comfortable rolling your shoulders, maybe extend your arms and turn those shoulder rolls into arm circles. These will force you to activate those core muscles a bit more so you can maintain and improve your balance. 

The core muscles are so important to our sense of balance, and activating them where we can help you build a base from which to move more freely. 

Walk In Place

Once you’ve got those shoulder rolls down (and maybe those arm circles, too), let’s start incorporating movements with more, well, movement. 

This exercise speaks for itself: you’re going to stand up straight, engage your core, and march in place. We recommend you holding onto a piece of furniture (or maybe a friend) while getting started. 

If you aren’t comfortable doing this standing at first, start in a chair. Lift one leg off the ground, then the other, using the chair for all the support you need. 

Sit To Stand

Sit to stand is straightforward, but it can be sneakily challenging. The idea is to sit in a chair or on a weight bench, stand up, sit back down, and repeat. Do this at least three times and try to work up to 10 or more. 

To build our dynamic balance, we have to build the muscles that allow us to balance and sit to stand covers them all: core, thighs, glutes, hamstrings, calves, and more. It’s a full-body simple exercise, and it’s a prelude to the squat (which is one of the most efficient exercises we can possibly do for our bodies and one that you might want to start doing down the line). 

Tightrope Walk

The tightrope walk is a bit more challenging because you can’t rely on support as much as you have been able to for previous exercises. 

The key to a tightrope walk is just walking forward, one foot in front of the other, placing your front foot carefully from heel to toe. Take ten steps in one direction, turn around, and go back the other way.

This exercise is best done along with some sort of marker in the floor—be it a crack between floor tiles, the direction of wood floors, a piece of string; you can get very creative with this. Holding your arms out to the sides is helpful, and doing this exercise near a wall or in a hallway can be an excellent method of backup support if you teeter over just a little too far one way or the other.

Single-Leg Balance

This is where we can start amping up our sense of balance. While you should begin these with support (chair, table, wall, TRX bands, etc.), the goal is, of course, to do this using only your muscles and sense of balance. 

Standing with your feet hip-distance apart, shift your weight onto one leg. As you move the weight away from the other leg, begin to pull your foot off the ground, starting with your heel so that your toes are still touching the earth with a little bit of weight. 

Once you feel comfortable here, it’s time to lift your foot off the ground completely. Hover that foot a couple of inches off the ground, and bring it back down. Repeat on the other side and work up to 10 on each in total. 

Leg Lifts

The grand finale is leg lifts. It’s effectively the same as that single-leg balance, but now you’re going to try to bring your knee up so that your thigh is parallel with the ground and your shin is parallel with your body (90 degrees if it’s possible).

Work into this slowly and use all the support you need. Focus more on balance than the height of your top leg here; it’s better to have your foot half an inch off the ground safely in the middle of the room than it is to have your knee bent perfectly at 90 degrees while clinging to a piece of furniture. 

Try for ten on each side, and you’re good to go. 

Balance is so important for us to move through our lives with freedom and grace. Work through these movements carefully and mindfully, knowing that practicing every day will surely support you in all of your physical health goals and help to prevent falls! We have room to practice balance exercises for seniors at all of our locations. We also have some wonderful instructor-led classes that you can access anytime, anywhere on our virtual fitness platform, iChuze Fitness. Try it out with a free 7-day trial.

The post Balance Exercises For Seniors appeared first on Chuze Fitness.

What are Balance Exercises?

What are Balance Exercises?

Take a moment and think back to a time in your life where your body caught you by surprise. 

Maybe your toe caught an unruly crack in the pavement on your walk, a sneaky patch of ice sent you sliding, or a bump into a loved one almost knocked you over, but didn’t. 

Think about a time when your body could find equilibrium without you having to think about it, where it felt unbelievable that you didn’t end up on the floor. This incredible sense of balance is something that we all carry, that we all utilize, and can all strengthen over time with practice.

To get you in the mindset of working on your sense of balance control, we will cover the basics of dynamic balance training exercises: what they are and what are some of the different types that you can practice.

What are Balance Exercises?

Balance exercises are, to nobody’s surprise, exercises that work our sense of balance. 

And when we talk about balance, we aren’t just talking about incredible yoga poses that have you locked in a handstand; having a good sense of balance is important for every single aspect of your physical life. 

Walking on uneven surfaces, carrying things, even trying new forms of exercise training all require the adaptability that comes with having a good sense of balance.

Now that we’ve covered the intro to balance exercises and what they can do to improve your life, let’s break them down into a few different categories so you can introduce a variety of movements to your workout routine: dynamic, static, standing, and sitting.

While you can undoubtedly find exercises that utilize combinations of these four types, it can be a more approachable idea when you have options that are already broken down.

Sitting Balance Exercises

Sitting balance exercises provide a world of variety with little consequences, so whether you’re a balance expert or you’re brand new to balance exercises, this is a wonderful place to start. 

If you’ve found that your sense of balance is slipping a bit, sit on a couch, hold your arms straight out to each side and try tilting in each direction, and sitting back up straight without tottering over. For those who want to work their balance in an ab-forward way, v-ups are an awesome way to get your core firing to improve your sense of balance on the ground! 

Standing Balance Exercises

Standing balance exercises are—you guessed it—standing. 

There are an infinite number of standing movements that can work your sense of balance, so finding the right ones for you depends entirely on your skill level and what you’re comfortable with. Trust your body but always work your way up when there’s a risk of falling to the floor. 

A simple standing balance exercise could be marching in place, while a more challenging one could be alternating jumping lunges with your legs bending to 90-degree angles and your knees never going forward past your toes.

Static Balance Exercises 

Static balance exercises are generally the most straightforward, the easiest to support, and a great way to introduce balance exercises to your workouts. 

You know that a balance exercise is static when you get into a position and do your best to maintain it—for example, standing still (doing this with your eyes closed is a great challenge), standing on one leg, or contorting into a crow pose for the yogis at heart

Dynamic Balance Exercises

Dynamic balance exercises are characterized by movement: they require lots of it. 

This type of exercise is easily the most translatable to your everyday life. Dynamic movements are functional movements; your body can’t tell the difference between stepping up onto a bench in the gym or stepping up a flight of stairs in your home. 

Examples of dynamic balance exercises include walking backward, holding a plank on a stability ball, and single-leg Romanian deadlifts. 

No matter where you begin your balance journey, you are in the right place. You can practice balance exercise training at any of our locations, or follow our amazing instructors as they take you through balance exercise on iChuze Fitness, our online fitness platform. Start small, work your way into more challenging movements, and don’t forget to have fun!

The post What are Balance Exercises? appeared first on Chuze Fitness.

We Asked Fitness Experts Their Best Tips For Heart Health: Here Is What They Had To Say

We Asked Fitness Experts Their Best Tips For Heart Health: Here Is What They Had To Say

In this month filled with love for the people in our lives, we want to focus on one of our most important organs—the heart. When it comes to working out, fueling your most precious moments, feeling a sense of calmness, and more, your heart is at the center of it all. So, we pulled in the experts—leaders on our Fitness Team—to get their tips for optimal heart health.

What Is Your Resting Heart Rate?

To start this conversation, we want to set a baseline for heart health. One way to see how well your heart functions is to get to know your resting heart rate. While it is not the only measurement for heart health, having a lower heart rate typically means that your heart is running well. Top athletes usually have a resting heart rate of 40 bpm (beats per minute) or lower, and the average person tends to sit somewhere between 60 to 100 beats per minute.

We asked Ryan Owen, Fitness Manager at our Littleton Colorado location, about the importance of a resting heart rate and how to lower it if you are on the higher end of BPM: 

“The heart is the most important muscle in the body and cardiovascular exercise is the key to lowering your resting heart rate.  Cardiovascular exercise strengthens your heart just as curls would for your biceps or squats for your glutes. Participating in a variety of different types of cardiovascular exercise will lead to the best results when trying to lower your resting heart rate. HIIT, such as our Team Training sessions, as well endurance training, such as running, swimming, or biking for longer distances allow your heart to take on any type of exertion level throughout your day and lead to a lower resting heart rate.”

HIIT For Heart Health

Jessica Ochoa, Fitness Manager at our Grant & Oracle locations in Tucson, Arizona, agrees, naming HIIT as her favorite cardio exercise for heart muscle health. HIIT workouts are characterized by 1-4 minutes of intense exercise, followed by 1-4 minutes of rest. By training your body to work intensely and then rest, you are building cardiovascular strength.

Other Ways To Exercise Your Heart

While HIIT might interest some of us, it seems a little daunting for others—and that’s A-ok. In fact, your favorite exercise will more than likely lead you to a stronger heart. We asked the Fitness Manager at our Highlands Ranch Colorado location, Sam Murtaugh, what heart-healthy exercise they would love if everyone tried, and their advice was f-u-n, “To dance every day! Not only will dancing help with your physical heart health, but it’s almost guaranteed to make you smile. Plus, it makes some of my favorite memories! Grab someone you love and dance the night away!”

We love this advice because it illustrates how fun staying healthy can be. Want to dance it out? Do it! Love swimming? Make it a routine! Motivated by High-Intensity workouts? Work it out! There are so many options for all of us to have a fun and well-rounded routine that makes us excited to sweat. In fact, you can try your favorite workout at any of our locations, or follow instructor-lead classes in our virtual fitness platform iChuze Fitness. (Try it free for 7-days!)

Cardio vs. Strength Training: Which Is Better?

For this answer, we got some advice from Kevin Camara, MS, CSCS, Regional Fitness Manager of our California, Arizona, and New Mexico locations, for his thoughts on the subject: 

“In terms of optimizing heart health, strength training is going to be more beneficial than cardio. Circuit training is a form of strength training and achieves similar benefits as cardio. Performing exercises targeting different body parts with short rest intervals will result in increased heart rate and respiratory rate similar to when performing cardio. The increase in heart rate and respiratory rate is going to provide the benefits of cardio, also while achieving the benefits of strength training. Circuit training is not going to be optimal for strength training because generally, the weight load has to be reduced because of the increase in fatigue. Both cardio and strength training should not be ignored. Both have their place in maintaining heart health. For those with little time to exercise, circuit training can be a great option to achieve both the health benefits of strength training and cardio. 

To find an optimal routine, taking into account what is sustainable long term should be the biggest consideration. Creating a routine that is hours long or inconvenient is not going to be beneficial if it only lasts a month or two. 

My optimal routine is finding 20 minutes every day to circuit train and taking every opportunity to be active with my family—which may include playing basketball, tag, stroller jogging, or walking. Within the circuit of exercises I perform, I make sure to target all large muscle groups by including a squat variation, upper body pull, deadlift variation, and upper body push. An example is below.

  1. Split Squat 6-10 reps each
  2. Bent Over Row 6-10 reps
  3. Single Leg RDL 6-10 reps 
  4. Banded Push Ups 6-10 reps 

*15-30 seconds rest between each exercise

What is most important is finding what you enjoy because that will make staying consistent with your routine long-term much easier.”

What About Heart-Healthy Food?

As we know, every healthy routine has to start and end with food. But, instead of restricting yourself, Robin Cortez, MS, our Director of Team Training, has different advice. We asked her what one food she would cut out of everyone’s diet if she was given a magic wand, and her answer was powerful:

“I would use that magic wand, rather, to create a more universal understanding that restricting often leads to overcompensating and will more often than not backfire. Restricting is problematic in so many ways for our health, including the heart. With that magic wand, I’d instead encourage people to ADD heart-healthy foods into their diet if they’re missing them at the moment. Ryan’s got great suggestions about what that could look like.”

So, What Foods Should You Add To Your Plate To Increase Heart Health?

Ryan Hogan, Fitness Manager at our Rancho Cucamonga California location, shares:

“Some of the best foods for increasing heart health are leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale. These vegetables are high in vitamin K which protects arteries and promotes proper blood clotting. A great way to incorporate them into any healthy diet is to add a small salad with one of your meals each day. You can also add a little olive oil, which is high in monounsaturated fats and has been shown to reduce risk of heart disease, to give yourself a light, heart-healthy addition to your favorite meals!”

The conclusion? Build a routine around the things that you love and work to a healthy heart through moving your body and adding heart-healthy foods to your plate. It’s not about working out three hours a day, seven days a week, and restricting yourself to avoid all of your favorite foods. It’s about finding what you love to do and then sticking with it!

""

What Does Heart Health Mean To Our Team?

For our final question, we asked each of these experts to share what heart health means to them and how they care for their hearts each day. We leave you with these answers:

Jessica Ochoa | Fitness Manager | Grant & Oracle, AZ

Heart health means making choices that help me avoid heart disease. My heart is my most important muscle. Just the way I take care of my other muscles, I customize my heart workouts to include at least 150 mins of steady cardio or 75 mins of vigorous cardio per week. In regards to my diet, I make sure to limit my fatty foods and include at least one vegetable at every meal. Some studies have found that gum disease and heart disease may be associated, so don’t forget to floss. 

Kevin Camara, MS, CSCS | Regional Fitness Manager | CA, AZ, and NM

What heart health means to me is being capable of playing with my kids for extended periods of time, also being capable of performing physical tasks or chores around our home. I don’t want to ever have to worry about my health when playing with my kids, helping a family member move, or doing household chores. I find time to be active and exercise every day because I want to maintain my heart health and physical abilities well into my older years of life. 

Ryan Owen | Fitness Manager | Littleton, CO

Everything. Heart health is my sport of choice now that I am no longer playing football. Improving my heart health assures me that I get to live my life with no limitations. I care for my heart health by including a variety of cardiovascular exercise in my weekly programming. I complete at least 3 HIIT (high-intensity interval training) sessions a week, whether on my own or hitting up one of our Team Training sessions. To be honest, I truly struggle with aerobic exercise; therefore, I have to set up goals for myself by signing up for 5k or 10k races to get that extra motivation to hit the pavement and rack up those miles. 

Ryan Hogan | Fitness Manager | Rancho Cucamonga, CA

To me, heart health comes first. Having a strong, healthy heart makes challenging myself in other ways easier. To care for my heart, I make sure to ask myself, “Am I treating my body the way I need to, so I still feel good 20, 30, 40 years from now?”

Robin Cortez, MS | Director of Team Training at Chuze Fitness

Heart health means having the ability to effectively pump blood and deliver sufficient nutrients and oxygen to meet my body’s demands. My heart is healthiest when there is a balance between parasympathetic and sympathetic activity. It can’t be one or the other exclusively. I care for my heart by being consistently active and listening to my body’s cues when it’s time to be less active and relax. 

Sam Murtaugh | Fitness Manager | Highlands Ranch, CO

Heart health, to me, is being able to go on adventures with family and friends without worrying about my physical capabilities. I am very mindful of what I am putting into my body every day. I prioritize my health in every decision I make. I always want to feel like I am living my life to the fullest!

The post We Asked Fitness Experts Their Best Tips For Heart Health: Here Is What They Had To Say appeared first on Chuze Fitness.

What Are The Benefits Of Gratitude?

What Are The Benefits Of Gratitude? A Look At The Science.

We have talked about gratitude on here before. It’s important to our organization and as individuals because we aim to create a culture of gratitude inside and outside our clubs. But why? Why are kindness, gratitude, and self-care so dang important to us? Well, we are going to dive into the benefits of gratitude today to find that out! 

What Does Gratitude Mean? 

We know what you’re thinking, “Doesn’t gratitude mean saying thank you when someone does something nice for you? How is that beneficial?” In short, that is gratitude—but just a piece of it. Roger Emmons, one of the world’s leading researchers into the science of gratitude, says that gratitude can be broken down into two parts. In short: affirming that there are good things and recognizing that the sources of goodness exist outside of ourselves. The second part of this is especially beautiful because it asks us to acknowledge the support we have from others. In this way, by taking actionable steps to show gratefulness for others and the good that exists, we can cultivate an attitude of gratitude. But, besides sounding mushy all of the time, what are the benefits? 

Benefits Of Gratitude

1 | It Makes Us Happier

Yep! There’s research to back this claim up, too. When you pay attention to the good and beautiful things around you, your natural disposition will be positive. One study showed that subjects who were asked to write down something they were grateful for each day saw substantial mental health benefits throughout the study. Another series of studies show a correlation between gratitude and happiness. Yep, grateful individuals seem to be happier and more well-adjusted. It’s science!

2 | Helps With Relationships

While it may seem like an individual daily gratitude routine might have little to nothing to do with the people around you—it does. If you think about someone you admire, they probably have a cheerful attitude. It’s an attractive quality. We want to be around people who cheer us on, lift us up, and spread light. Studies have shown that gratitude helps us forgive, connect, give more, and even resolve arguments and conflicts better.  

3 | Makes Us Healthier

One thing that came as a surprise to us in our studies is how gratitude can make us physically healthier. We knew the impact it had on the people around us and our mental health, but the physical aspect was compelling (to say the least). One of the reports we read outlined more exercise, less pain, and fewer health complaints overall. That means better sleep, fewer stomach issues, colds, and more! The trick is, you have to practice gratitude for a longer period. No, you probably won’t reap these benefits after a day or even a week, but give us 90 days of a gratitude practice, and you might just feel better. 

4 | Increases Self-Esteem

In a world of constant comparison, it can be hard to feel good about ourselves. At some level, most of us struggle with our self-esteem. One reason why gratitude helps is that folks who practice are naturally practicing looking for the good. That means when something good happens, you recognize it and accept that the good was meant for you to enjoy, and not that you don’t deserve it or aren’t good enough. 

5 | Enhanced Mental Health

Your mind is so important. It can be difficult to imagine being grateful if you are suffering from anxiety, depression, or simply feeling ‘off.’ Still, some studies have shown that practicing gratitude along with talking to a mental health professional is one of the most impactful treatments for mental health ailments.

A compelling study on students took a look at about 350 students for six weeks. They gave these students gratitude courses, and the experimental group also received access to an app where they could show gratitude to their classmates and teachers at their leisure. At the end of the study, researchers found “reported increased positive emotions, decreased anxiety and negative emotions, and greater satisfaction with both their friendships and their lives overall.” Now, if that’s not a convincing reason to add this to your wellness routine, we don’t know what is!

6 | Better Sleep

This benefit deserves a special call-out because sleep impacts more than just our energy levels (though that is important). It affects our skin, mental health, physical health, hormones, brain activity, and more! It turns out, practicing gratitude can help. In one study, grateful people were sleeping longer, staying awake throughout the day, and experiencing a better sleep quality overall. Researchers found evidence that this is due to practicing positive thoughts rather than negative ones before bedtime. 

We think gratitude is important. And, since we practice what preach, we want to end with this thought:

We are grateful for you—Chuze Family—for being a part of our journey, helping us to spread kindness, and taking the time to read this with us.

Our teams are in our clubs to greet you with a smile and welcome you to your “home” gym at all of our locations. You can also practice gratitude, self-care, kindness, fitness, and more with us on our virtual fitness platform iChuze Fitness—try it today with a free seven-day pass. We can’t wait to learn more about you.

With overwhelming gratitude.

The post What Are The Benefits Of Gratitude? appeared first on Chuze Fitness.

Celebrating Our Chuze Family

Here at Chuze, we consider every single person who is part of our fitness community — members and team members alike — to be family. Why? Because to us, family is built on the importance of how we respect one another, how we show up for one another, and how we move through the world together. And that’s exactly the kind of community we strive to nurture at Chuze.

To kick off this year, we dug into our family culture to celebrate you, our Chuze fam, and to thank you for continuing to choose Chuze as your home away from home. 

 

Our (Family) Members

Of course, without y-o-u, we wouldn’t be where we are today. In January, we asked our members why Chuze feels like family. Here’s what you had to say!

Many of you mentioned our incredible team. From the front desk to our CEO, it is essential to all of us to make your visit (whether in-person or virtual) special. And, in all honesty, we love doing it. Saying hello, giving air-fives, and learning about your life is one of the best parts of our jobs. You make our days more inspiring just by walking in the door or showing up virtually.

Other members mentioned that Chuze is a special place to bring their family. With a Kids Club at many of our locations to look after your little ones while you take some time for self-care, equipment for your favorite workout, instructors and coaches who love to teach you in-class and online, we are glad to be an extension of your home.

 

iChuze In Your Living Room

Nothing says family time quite like an evening of fun and laughter (and fitness! — okay, we might be a little biased) in your living room. Our team wanted to spend some time with you, so we hosted a free live-streamed workout with our incredible instructor, Xanny, and her family on iChuze Fitness. This no-equipment-required, good-for-all-fitness-levels workout was an absolute blast. Xanny, her mother, father, and sons all helped lead us through some calorie-blasting fun—and you can still access it for free with our 7-day trial

Go ahead. Lace up your sneakers and sweat it out right at home with your Chuze family! (Click below)

 

Donation To Meals On Wheels

It wouldn’t be a family celebration without working to help others. Our January App Raffle was for a donation to Meals On Wheels. By donating Chuze rewards points to this worthy cause, members were entered to win a gift card for iChuze Fitness ($240 value) and Postmates ($200 value). 

Our lucky winner, Josh K, entered over 40 times! We are so happy for Josh and his wife and look forward to having them join us on iChuze Fitness for the next year.

 

From The Family Who Started It All

We are a family-owned business, and the family that started it all sent out a special message to celebrate family with us. Our CEO, Cory Brightwell, and COO, Nick Barshick, (delivered by the same doctor, surprisingly enough) reminisce with Melissa Sowell, CAO, about our first club in Carlsbad, CA and their exhausting experience on the very first day, to where we are now.  

We will leave you with words from Nick Barshick: 

“What’s been very special for all of us to see is how all of you—our members and our staff—haven’t just become like family, you’ve become our family. Our big Chuze family. 

And you’ve stuck with us for 12 years—most particularly through this last year of 2020, which has been so unbelievably difficult for all of us—and that’s what family does.

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you to our wonderful members and team members for being part of this Chuze family. 

The post Celebrating Our Chuze Family appeared first on Chuze Fitness.

What Is Gratitude? Finding Joy In Simplicity.

What Is Gratitude? Finding Joy In Simplicity.

Gratitude. For some, this word only pops up once a year around the dinner table, say, Mid-November. But, it is a feeling you can live with day-in and day-out. Today we want to dive into this very subject: What is gratitude and how to practice gratitude today.

What Is Gratitude? 

The definition of gratitude is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” From this definition, there are two distinct parts, being thankful and showing or returning appreciation. Each of these things has to do with doing—taking action to show gratitude or be gracious. Of course, there are times where we elicit it naturally—maybe at the receipt of a gift or kind gesture—but we can also manifest it daily through practice. 

This video by Soul Pancake shows a small experiment where subjects take a happiness quiz and then are asked to write a letter to the person that has impacted them the most. Afterward, Soul Pancake asks the subjects to call the person they wrote about and read them the letter out loud. When they are through, they then take another version of the happiness quiz. For subjects who could get ahold of the person they wrote about, their happiness score jumped from between 4% and 19%! While this is a very small study, it does show that expressing gratitude makes the receiver happy and the individual expressing it.

Studies On Gratitude

We believe backing our articles with real science is essential. So, what is the science of gratitude? One study at UC Berkeley took a look at 192 participants. They divided these folks up into three groups and gave one group the prompt to reflect on their week and write down blessings, the next to write down hassles, and the third to reflect on life events. They found that the gratitude participants felt better about their life as a whole, were more optimistic, and even exercised more. 

Greater Good Magazine by UC Berkeley dives into this study and more, showing the incredible benefits of gratitude with science-backed studies. The research we outlined went even further, having subjects write down their blessings, hassles, and life-events daily. They found in this study that people in the blessings group were more likely to help others. In further studies, they saw that gratitude positively impacted sleep and helped individuals feel more connected with others. Now, as we swell up with emotion being grateful for you—our Chuze Family—we are left to wonder how we can collectively practice gratitude daily (or, more often).

How To Practice Gratitude

Write A Letter

As outlined in the initial study, one way to practice gratitude is to write to the person that most positively impacts you and tell them how much they mean to you—then send the letter or call and read it to them. This is a beautiful way to spread kindness throughout our community. This person may be an impactful teacher, boss, parent, grandparent, sibling, or anyone else who has inspired you in your life. 

Evidence shows that the positive impact of writing a gratitude letter can last an entire month. That’s for you, the sender. Imagine how much happiness it will give to the person who means so much to you.

Keep A Gratitude Journal

Journal overwhelm is a thing, everyone. We get it. When offered advice, we are often told to journal our food, journal our workouts, journal our day, etc. But, the reason this advice is so widespread is that it works. When you write down daily gratitudes (i.e., I am grateful for a job that allows me to take time for self-care.), your brain actually changes. Though it will take time, having a consistent gratitude practice has been shown to cause more outward expression of kindness and gratitude with individuals.

Keeping a gratitude journal is simple. You can buy a 90-day journal for a few bucks online, or grab a notebook from your local drugstore and write down three things you are grateful for when you awake and three good things that happened in your day before you fall asleep. It can look a little something like this: 

Morning Gratitude: 

I am grateful for the sunlight beaming into my room

I am grateful for a warm bed to sleep in

I am grateful for my wellness

Evening Reflection:

Today I spoke to my best friend

Had a beautiful walk with my dogs

Was able to read a few chapters of my book

Not every day will be monumental, but there is gratitude in every day.

Show Kindness On iChuze Fitness

We take kindness and gratitude very seriously here at Chuze. That’s why we’ve built a kindness machine into our virtual fitness platform. (Have we mentioned we do things differently?) In our Heart section, you can find ways to show kindness to others, establishing an attitude of gratitude and extending it to others. Plus, for your acts of service, we donate to a non-profit organization. It’s a win, win, win!

You can also find gratitude meditations like this one with our instructor Ashley Dunlop, who takes you through nine lovely minutes of finding joy in simplicity. There’s lots more self-care, kindness, gratitude, and meditations to enjoy—all from our wonderful experts and instructors.

If you would like to establish a gratitude routine in your daily life, we are here to help. You can find tips on our blog and see our gratitude for you in all that we do in our clubs and on our virtual fitness platform. Try iChuze Fitness today with a 7-day pass!

The post What Is Gratitude? Finding Joy In Simplicity. appeared first on Chuze Fitness.

30+ Best Ketogenic Diet Foods According to a Dietitian

The ketogenic diet has gained notoriety over the past few years, and its popularity only seems to be growing.

The ketogenic diet, or keto for short, is a type of low carbohydrate diet.

While on this diet, you heavily restrict your carb intake while consuming higher amounts of fat and moderate amounts of protein.

The standard ketogenic diet typically limits carbohydrate consumption to 5 to 10% of daily calories or around 25 to 50 grams of carbs per day.

When you limit carbohydrates in your diet, the body turns to fat as its primary fuel source.

Fat is broken down into ketones, which can then be used by your body and brain for energy- a process referred to as ketosis.

Followers of the keto rave about how this diet helps them lose bodyweight and seemingly melt away fat, without the usual calorie counting that accompanies a traditional weight loss program. 

Additionally, many people adopt a keto lifestyle for a myriad of health effects and benefits, including a reduced risk of epilepsy, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer (1-4).

The keto diet seems daunting at first, and it may be challenging to decide what ketogenic foods to add to your eating plan.

However, the good news is that many healthy, whole foods are also keto-friendly. Ready to try the keto diet?

Below is a list of nutritious, ketogenic diet foods that are approved by a registered dietitian.

Non-Starchy Vegetables

Keto vegetables

Low-carb or non-starchy veggies are staples of any keto diet meal plans.

These vegetables are low in carbs and calories while still delivering plenty of nutrients, including vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium.

Vegetables are also a good source of fiber, which is a type of carbohydrate that your body cannot digest or absorb.

This means that non-starchy vegetables are lower in “digestible” (or net) carbohydrates.

Since fiber cannot be absorbed by the body, it does not influence blood sugar and insulin levels in the same way as digestible carbohydrates.

You can calculate the digestible or net carbohydrates in food by subtracting the grams of fiber (aka the indigestible materials) from the total carbs.

For example, one cup of zucchini has 4 grams of carbs and 1 gram of fiber, meaning that this vegetable has 3 grams per serving of digestible carbs (5). 

Most types of veggies can be part of the keto diet, except for starchy vegetables and plants.

Vegetables that you cannot eat on the keto diet include carrots, corn, sweet potatoes/ yams, beets, turnips, parsnips, legumes, black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, and regular potatoes. 

Non-starchy vegetables to add to your keto meal plan are: 

  • Leafy greens including lettuce, spinach, bok choy, arugula, and kale
  • Eggplant
  • Mushrooms
  • Cauliflower 
  • Broccoli
  • Bell peppers
  • Green beans
  • Cucumbers
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Fennel
  • Onions

Cauliflower Rice and Zoodles

Keto pasta alternative: zoodles

Removing high carb foods from the menu can seem impossible at first.

Many people rely on carbohydrate-based foods and grain products, such as pasta, bread, oats, and rice, as vehicles for the fat and protein in a meal.

However, low carb vegetables can serve as excellent replacements for these higher-carb foods.

For example, cauliflower can mimic rice or potatoes in a meal, and “zoodles” can act as a replacement for pasta.

Some creative ways to use vegetables as a carb replacement include cauliflower rice, spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles, and cauliflower mash. 

Seafood and Shellfish

Eat salmon on keto

Fish and seafood are not only keto-friendly, but they are also among some of the healthiest foods on this planet.

Fish, especially fatty fish, is packed with essential nutrients and minerals that are generally lacking in the diet.

This includes vitamin D, iodine, selenium, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids.

In particular, omega-3 fatty acids act to reduce inflammation in the body and are associated with brain and heart health (6-8).

Most health experts recommend aiming for two servings of fish per week, although more is better.

Seafood is also an excellent source of lean protein and is generally low or even free of carbohydrates, which is good news for keto enthusiasts.

Fish to include in your diet: 

  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Mackerel
  • Sardines 
  • Shrimp
  • Herring 
  • Scallops
  • Clams
  • Crab
  • Cod

Low-Sugar Fruits and Berries

Best low-carb fruits for keto

Fruits are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

However, many fruits also contain natural fruit sugars, which could put you over your daily carb goals.

This does not mean that you have to give up fruit entirely. Fruits that are considered keto foods include:

  • Tomatoes
  • Tomato sauce, with no added sugars
  • Olives and olive oil
  • Avocados and avocado oil
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Strawberries
  • Coconut and coconut oil
  • Lemons and lemon juice
  • Limes

In particular, berries are among some of the healthiest foods that you can eat.

They are an excellent source of antioxidants, which help reduce inflammation and protect the body against damage from free radicals.

Berries are also a source of soluble fiber, which is a nutrient that is sometimes lacking in the keto diet.

Research has shown that soluble fiber slows the transit of food in your digestive tract, leading to reductions in hunger and increased fullness (9). 

However, you will want to be mindful of portion size to remain within the 50 grams of carbs per day limit.

One 3.5 ounce serving of raspberries has about 6 grams of net carbs (10), while a serving of blueberries has 12 grams of net carbs (11). 

Meat and Poultry

Meat and poultry

Meat and poultry make up a large portion of the menu when following a keto diet, and are a good source of high-quality animal protein and B vitamins.

Proponents of the keto diet recommend selecting organic, free-range poultry and grass-fed, organic beef whenever possible.

This is because grass-fed red meats have a different composition of fats in comparison to conventional grain-fed red meat (12).

Studies have shown that grass-fed beef contains higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is a type of fat that is associated with health benefits, including weight loss (12).

Meats to include on your keto diet foods list are:

  • Chicken and chicken breast
  • Beef and ground beef
  • Turkey 
  • Pork and pork chops
  • Lamb
  • Bacon
  • Venison
  • Veal
  • Organ meats

Eggs

Similar to meat and poultry, eggs are also a great source of protein.

In fact, eggs have all the essential amino acids needed to build structures in the body, including bones and muscle mass.

Furthermore, one large egg has less than 1 gram of carbs, which makes them an excellent keto diet food.

For many years, eggs, especially egg yolks, had a bad reputation due to their high amounts of dietary cholesterol.

However, this science has recently been debunked, with studies showing that cholesterol from the diet is not associated with increased levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol for most adults (13).

Eating eggs may actually help increase levels of HDL (good) cholesterol in the body and has been shown to modify the shape of LDL cholesterol, thereby reducing your heart disease risk (14, 15). 

Dairy and Cheese

Best cheese for keto

Dairy products are a great source of fats, proteins, calcium, and phosphorus.

Cheese and other full-fat dairy products, such as butter and whole milk, also contain conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).

Research has shown that CLA has potential health benefits and may protect against heart disease, obesity, and inflammation (16-18).

CLA has also been linked to modest reductions in body fat and increased proportions of lean body mass (18). 

The good news is that most dairy products are also low or moderate in carbohydrates so that they fit perfectly on your keto diet plan.

The carbohydrate breakdown of popular dairy products is as follows:

  • Cheddar cheese (1 ounce): 1 gram of carbs (19)
  • Cottage cheese (1/2 cup): 4 grams of carbs (20)
  • Feta cheese (1 ounce): 1 gram of carbs (21)
  • Plain Greek yogurt (1 cup or 227 grams): 10 grams of carbs (22)

However, you may want to limit milk intake while following a keto diet.

One glass of milk contains about 12 grams of natural milk sugars.

Other dairy products to eliminate while on a keto diet are ice cream and low-fat yogurts, as these are sources of added sugar and could push you over your carbs per day goal.

Items to include on your keto shopping list are most types of cheeses, ghee, cream cheese, sour cream, plain Greek yogurt, unsweetened Kefir, heavy cream, goat cheese, ricotta cheese, and butter.

Nuts and Seeds

Best nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds make excellent snack foods on the keto diet.

They are packed with protein, heart-healthy fats, and fiber, which are nutrients that help increase feelings of satiety and reduce hunger.

Nuts and seeds also contain essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, phosphorus, and copper.

Furthermore, nuts are extremely good for heart health.

Research has shown that regular nut consumption may reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke by improving cholesterol levels, reducing inflammation, and increasing antioxidant levels in the body (23-26).

Eating nuts may also help you lose weight when combined with other dietary approaches, such as the keto diet. 

Studies conducted on almonds and pistachios have consistently shown that these nuts may help to promote weight loss when compared to control foods or diets (27-29).

Additionally, one study found that participants who consumed chia seeds daily while on a calorie-restricted diet lost more weight and had greater reductions in waist circumference after six months compared to the control group (30).

Furthermore, nuts are incredibly versatile and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, including raw, roasted, seasoned, and as seed and nut butter.

The carb content of different nuts is variable and can range from about 2 to 8 grams of net carbs per serving, so be mindful of serving sizes to remain within your carb count.

For example, the amount of net carbs in a serving of macadamia nuts is 2 grams.

Nuts and seeds to add to your keto food list include:

  • Almonds and almond butter
  • Walnuts
  • Pecans
  • Hemp seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Cashews
  • Flaxseeds
  • Peanuts and peanut butter 
  • Hazelnuts

Heart-Healthy Oils

Oils, including olive oil, coconut oil, and nut oils, consist mainly of heart-healthy fats. Due to their high-fat content, they make an excellent addition to keto diets. 

Since different types of oils impart unique flavors and health benefits, it may be best to fill your pantry with multiple varieties. Examples include: 

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Sesame oil

Unsweetened Beverages

Starting the keto diet does not mean that you need to sacrifice your morning cup of coffee. 

Unsweetened tea and coffee are carb-free, and these beverages also offer a variety of health benefits. 

The caffeine found in coffee and black teas may help boost your metabolism and promote weight loss.

There is evidence that caffeine increases the resting metabolic rate by 3 to 11%, meaning that you burn more calories while at rest (31, 32).

The caffeine in coffee can also promote weight loss by stimulating the brain to breakdown fat (33).

Additionally, unsweetened milk alternatives, such as almond milk and coconut milk, are permitted on this diet.

Broth, club soda, diet soda, and zero-calorie seltzer are also great options to sip on throughout the day.

Hydration is important while on the keto diet, so be sure to drink plenty of water and other low carb fluids.

However, pay attention to the ingredients label on beverages before indulging.

Many drinks contain sugar sweeteners or fruit juice for flavoring and can be a source of hidden carbs.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate

The keto diet does not need to be devoid of dessert and treats. Dark chocolate makes an excellent addition to any keto plan.

Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants, including polyphenols, flavonols, and catechins, to name a few (34).

These antioxidants are thought to play a crucial role in reducing your risk of certain chronic diseases and health problems. 

Dark chocolates typically contain some sugar, but the amounts are usually less in darker chocolates.

Be sure to choose dark chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa. A one-ounce serving of 70 to 85% dark chocolate contains an average of 10 grams of net carbs. 

Last Words

Many people are turning to the ketogenic diet to help them with fat loss and to improve their health.

Getting started on the keto diet may seem challenging at first; however, the keto diet includes many nutritious and tasty keto-friendly foods.

Consider including the foods discussed above to your weekly grocery shopping list to get started on the keto diet. 

Moreno, Basilio et al. “Obesity treatment by very low-calorie-ketogenic diet at two years: reduction in visceral fat and on the burden of disease.” Endocrine vol. 54,3 (2016): 681-690. doi:10.1007/s12020-016-1050-2

Al-Khalifa, Alaa et al. “Therapeutic role of low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet in diabetes.” Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.) vol. 25,11-12 (2009): 1177-85. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2009.04.004

Wang, Huei-Shyong, and Kuang-Lin Lin. “Ketogenic diet: an early option for epilepsy treatment, instead of a last choice only.” Biomedical journal vol. 36,1 (2013): 16-7. doi:10.4103/2319-4170.107155

Klement, Rainer J, and Ulrike Kämmerer. “Is there a role for carbohydrate restriction in the treatment and prevention of cancer?.” Nutrition & metabolism vol. 8 75. 26 Oct. 2011, doi:10.1186/1743-7075-8-75

“FoodData Central Search Results- Zucchini.” FoodData Central, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)/ Agricultural Research Service, fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html.

Peter, Soumia et al. “A fish a day, keeps the cardiologist away! – A review of the effect of omega-3 fatty acids in the cardiovascular system.” Indian journal of endocrinology and metabolism vol. 17,3 (2013): 422-9. doi:10.4103/2230-8210.111630

Ciubotaru, Irina et al. “Dietary fish oil decreases C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, and triacylglycerol to HDL-cholesterol ratio in postmenopausal women on HRT.” The Journal of nutritional biochemistry vol. 14,9 (2003): 513-21. doi:10.1016/s0955-2863(03)00101-3

Thusgaard, Marianne et al. “Effect of fish oil (n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids) on plasma lipids, lipoproteins and inflammatory markers in HIV-infected patients treated with antiretroviral therapy: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.” Scandinavian journal of infectious diseases vol. 41,10 (2009): 760-6. doi:10.1080/00365540903168056

Howarth, N C et al. “Dietary fiber and weight regulation.” Nutrition reviews vol. 59,5 (2001): 129-39. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2001.tb07001.x

“FoodData Central Search Results- Raspberries.” FoodData Central, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)/ Agricultural Research Service, https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/984243/nutrients

“FoodData Central Search Results- Blueberries.” FoodData Central, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)/ Agricultural Research Service,https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/555077/nutrients

Ponnampalam, Eric N et al. “Effect of feeding systems on omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid and trans fatty acids in Australian beef cuts: potential impact on human health.” Asia Pacific journal of clinical nutrition vol. 15,1 (2006): 21-9.

Fernandez, Maria L. “Rethinking dietary cholesterol.” Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care vol. 15,2 (2012): 117-21. doi:10.1097/MCO.0b013e32834d2259

Schnohr, P et al. “Egg consumption and high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol.” Journal of internal medicine vol. 235,3 (1994): 249-51. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2796.1994.tb01068.x

Mutungi, Gisella et al. “Eggs distinctly modulate plasma carotenoid and lipoprotein subclasses in adult men following a carbohydrate-restricted diet.” The Journal of nutritional biochemistry vol. 21,4 (2010): 261-7. doi:10.1016/j.jnutbio.2008.12.011

Castro-Webb, Nelsy et al. “Cross-sectional study of conjugated linoleic acid in adipose tissue and risk of diabetes.” The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 96,1 (2012): 175-81. doi:10.3945/ajcn.111.011858

Smit, Liesbeth A et al. “Conjugated linoleic acid in adipose tissue and risk of myocardial infarction.” The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 92,1 (2010): 34-40. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2010.29524

Whigham, Leah D et al. “Efficacy of conjugated linoleic acid for reducing fat mass: a meta-analysis in humans.” The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 85,5 (2007): 1203-11. doi:10.1093/ajcn/85.5.1203

“FoodData Central Search Results” FoodData Central, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)/ Agricultural Research Service,https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/380864/nutrients

“FoodData Central Search Results” FoodData Central, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)/ Agricultural Research Service, https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/391829/nutrients

“FoodData Central Search Results” FoodData Central, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)/ Agricultural Research Service, https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/453820/nutrients

“FoodData Central Search Results” FoodData Central, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)/ Agricultural Research Service, https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/482036/nutrients

Kay, Colin D et al. “Pistachios increase serum antioxidants and lower serum oxidized-LDL in hypercholesterolemic adults.” The Journal of nutrition vol. 140,6 (2010): 1093-8. doi:10.3945/jn.109.117366

Ros, Emilio et al. “A walnut diet improves endothelial function in hypercholesterolemic subjects: a randomized crossover trial.” Circulation vol. 109,13 (2004): 1609-14. doi:10.1161/01.CIR.0000124477.91474.FF

Damasceno, Nagila R T et al. “Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts reduces waist circumference and shifts lipoprotein subfractions to a less atherogenic pattern in subjects at high cardiovascular risk.” Atherosclerosis vol. 230,2 (2013): 347-53. doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2013.08.014

Cortés, Berenice et al. “Acute effects of high-fat meals enriched with walnuts or olive oil on postprandial endothelial function.” Journal of the American College of Cardiology vol. 48,8 (2006): 1666-71 doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2006.06.057

Li, Zhaoping et al. “Pistachio nuts reduce triglycerides and body weight by comparison to refined carbohydrate snack in obese subjects on a 12-week weight loss program.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition vol. 29,3 (2010): 198-203. doi:10.1080/07315724.2010.10719834

Dhillon, Jaapna et al. “Almond Consumption during Energy Restriction Lowers Truncal Fat and Blood Pressure in Compliant Overweight or Obese Adults.” The Journal of nutrition vol. 146,12 (2016): 2513-2519. doi:10.3945/jn.116.238444

Wien, M A et al. “Almonds vs complex carbohydrates in a weight reduction program.” International journal of obesity and related metabolic disorders : journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity vol. 27,11 (2003): 1365-72. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802411

Vuksan, V et al. “Salba-chia (Salvia hispanica L.) in the treatment of overweight and obese patients with type 2 diabetes: A double-blind randomized controlled trial.” Nutrition, metabolism, and cardiovascular diseases : NMCD vol. 27,2 (2017): 138-146. doi:10.1016/j.numecd.2016.11.124

Koot, P, and P Deurenberg. “Comparison of changes in energy expenditure and body temperatures after caffeine consumption.” Annals of nutrition & metabolism vol. 39,3 (1995): 135-42. doi:10.1159/000177854

Dulloo, A G et al. “Normal caffeine consumption: influence on thermogenesis and daily energy expenditure in lean and postobese human volunteers.” The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 49,1 (1989): 44-50. doi:10.1093/ajcn/49.1.44

Acheson, Kevin J et al. “Metabolic effects of caffeine in humans: lipid oxidation or futile cycling?.” The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 79,1 (2004): 40-6. doi:10.1093/ajcn/79.1.40

Crozier, S.J., Preston, A.G., Hurst, J.W. et al. Cacao seeds are a “Super Fruit”: A comparative analysis of various fruit powders and products. Chemistry Central Journal 5, 5 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1186/1752-153X-5-5