November 7 is National Stress Awareness Day. Because, what? We need to be MORE aware of stress?! SERIOUSLY!?
Today is the Wednesday after the Midterms. We're approaching the holidays. No matter where you stand on these topics, whether you're happy or sad, we've been living in chaotic, hyper-busy, hyper-connected times. When we start to feel the stress seep in, we react to it in ways we see and don't see: By eating crap, drinking crap, shutting off emotionally, sleeping a lot or barely sleeping... The list goes on.
These are all things that do NOTHING good for us hormonally to help us get back into a lower-stress zone.
What if we could channel that stress differently? What if there were things to help stress stay at bay? Well, worry not, lovely friends!
Here are some tactics you can use to lower your stress and take a load off!
IN THE MOMENT WHEN YOU HAVE NO TIME
FOR WHEN YOU HAVE JUST A BIT OF TIME
FOR WHEN YOU HAVE ENOUGH TIME TO PLAN SOMETHING TO DO
We hope some of these ideas help you take a load off!
What are some ways YOU fight stress? Let us know in the comments!
October is National Cookbook Month (yes, I know, there's a month for every occasion, isn't there?). We LOVE talking about food at TruFit so what better time than now to share with you some of the TruFit trainers' favorite cookbooks to recommend to clients who just don't know what to make for dinner (or lunch or breakfast)?
Everyday Food: Great Food Fast: 250 Recipes for Easy, Delicious Meals All Year Long
Izzy has loved this gem for YEARS thanks to its recipes being broken up by season, the simplicity of the instructions and the yumminess of the taste.
Izzy's favorite recipe: A mega tasty, VERY easy broccoli soup she blogged about here!
The Skinnytaste Cookbook: Light on Calories, Big on Flavor
Trainer Mary Cox likes this cookbook because it allows her to make dishes for guests that not only taste good but prove that you can have company over for dinner AND feed them healthy food!
Mary's go-to: Slow-Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup.
CookingLight Magazines and Cookbooks
Ok, so this isn't technically ONE cookbook (and we're including the magazines in here, too). Trainer Megan Davies likes the whole shebang for its nutrient-dense, lower-calorie food. (Another cool feature: If you don't love buying magazines monthly, CookingLight puts all of their recipes together at the end of the year!
The Seitanic Spellbook
Resident vegan trainer Matt Nelson loves the punnily-named Seitanic Spellbook for its easy recipes and sense of humor. Created and written by self-named Vegan Black Metal Chef, there's also a really popular YouTube channel if videos are more your speed! You can check that out here!
The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl and Spoon: Simple and Inspired Whole Foods Recipes to Savor and Share
Another go-to cookbook for Mary is this one, thanks to its use of veggies, whole grains, lean proteins and lots of flavor in ONE bowl. Who doesn't love the simplicity of having everything you need in one place?
Mary's favorite: The California Quinoa bowl.
Ready or Not!: 150+ Make-Ahead, Make-Over, and Make-Now Recipes by Nom Nom Paleo
Another Izzy fav is this popular blog Nom Nom Paleo's official cookbook. Izzy doesn't subscribe to the Paleo diet so why this book? Because of its focus on lots of veggies and protein along with a variety of punchy flavors from Italy to China and back again. Plus, it's step-by-step directions each have pictures so you feel like you're cooking out of a comic book!
Izzy's favorite recipe from the book: Pot Sticker Stir Fry.
The Mini Minimalist: Simple Recipes for Satisfying Meals
Mark Bittman is the master of minimalism and good food. Funny enough, for a minimalist, he has a LOT of cookbook options! Trainer Anthony Monley recommends any of his cookbooks to clients who want to know how to make healthy meals because they are simple, approachable and teach you the fundamentals!
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking
Trainer Nicole Dessoye has really been into this "metacookbook" because, "It teaches how to healthily create flavors," she explains. Why is that cool? Because regardless what foods you are or aren't eating, being able to create bold flavors will always leave you satisfied. In order to create these flavors, you have to know some basics and this book teaches you those!
Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, TruFit is paying homage with a pushup pledge challenge! You can find out more about that here but in the meantime, to make sure everyone stays healthy during this month of pushups, we wanted to focus on the good, the bad, and the ugly. We've got a video for you and more pushup explanations below.
Ready? Let's get pumped!
It’s really easy to think of body weight exercises as “easy” or “things beginners do”. The truth is, using your body as your own personal exercise equipment can be SUPER challenging if done the right way! One bodyweight exercise that can easily go from a gentle warmup to a total-body burn is the mighty pushup.
Pushups are typically done with one goal in mind: To get the chest, shoulders, and triceps more cut/more defined. Sadly, some people bust out set after set of pushups with form that makes us go:
Today we're talking about the three biggest mistakes we see with pushup execution and how to fix them. It would be really easy to end this blog post right here by saying, “Well, if you engage your core everything will fall into place.” But that doesn’t help if you don’t know how to engage your core, or what you might be doing wrong in the first place! So let’s start discussing.
First, let’s talk about what a GOOD pushup has*:
At the top (or "up" position):
*There are many ways to do a pushup but we're focusing on the "standard" pushup for this example.
At the bottom (or "down" position):
Now that you know what we're shooting for with proper pushup form, let's dive into the common pushup mistakes and how to fix them!
COMMON MISTAKE #1: BRINGING THE WRONG BODY PARTS TO THE FLOOR**
We know ultimately your straight line from your head to your heels stays intact throughout the pushup movement. Unfortunately, it’s common to see people’s faces reach for the floor, or their belly buttons or butts. If this is happening to you, acknowledge it and then change which body part you want pulled down toward the floor (hint: the chest)!
Think about actively PULLING your chest toward the floor (try grabbing the turf/floor lightly with your fingers) rather than FALLING downward. Be intentional in your movements.
This might be all that’s needed to fix the alignment issue, but if not here's an additional tip: Placing your tongue firmly on the roof of your mouth will help keep your head and cervical spine in alignment. Try it now! See how far forward your head goes when your tongue is NOT on the roof of your mouth. And, now, put your tongue on the roof of your mouth and try again. What did you experience?
**The "floor" here means whichever level or surface you’re going to. If you’re doing wall pushups the “floor” is the wall; if you’re doing a kitchen counter pushup, the “floor” is the kitchen counter, etc. These cues and tips transfer to whatever pushup modification you’re doing.
COMMON MISTAKE #2: FLARED OUT ELBOWS
At some point many of us learned to do pushups by bringing our elbows right out to the sides, creating a 90-degree angle at the armpit. Well, turns out that isn’t so friendly to our shoulders.
THE FIX: Bring the elbows in closer to your waist (so they're pointing back behind you) to create more of a 45-degree angle. This will likely feel more challenging but in the big picture will make you stronger and your shoulders much happier!
COMMON MISTAKE #3: DOING THE WORM
If you want to build a strong chest and core by doing pushups, then you won’t want to do your best frat party impression of the worm. The "up" part of the pushup should be initiated by your pecs, not by articulating each vertebra as your body hangs on the efforts of your shoulder joints.
THE FIX: Actively pushing the floor away. Just as we talked about being intentional on the downward portion -- pulling your chest toward the floor -- you’ll want to do the reverse here. With fingers still clutching the ground after pulling yourself down, squeeze your pecs and push the floor away.
If pushups on the floor are a challenge right now, there are many other variations to work with. Here are just a few:
PUSHUP VARIATION #1: TO A YOGA BLOCK
If you’re close to a full pushup on the ground, you can train your way down by using a yoga block. The sensory feedback you get with something to reach for underneath you keeps you accountable: You know you’re training to a specific depth consistently.
As you get stronger, you can change the position of the yoga block (e.g. placing it further downward, towards your belly and hips) to deepen your depth!
PUSHUP VARIATION #2: ASSISTED
Don't let these fool you! When done right, assisted or modified pushups will still be challenging.
And just like with the yoga block, you can train with this variation to get stronger and ultimately work your way to a floor pushup.
PUSHUP VARIATION #3: ELEVATED
Elevated pushups are another great way to groove the pushup pattern and train your central nervous system to have kickass form!
If elevated pushups on a low surface feel too challenging right now, you can start with hands on a wall, then work your way down to the kitchen counter, then to the bathroom counter or a hefty side table, then to a (really sturdy) coffee table, and eventually to the floor!
Let architecture be your gym. :)
Thanks for reading! If you're feeling fired up about pushups, please consider participating in our pushup challenge benefiting breast cancer research, awareness, and treatment (happening all October)!
And as always, feel free to contact us with any questions you might have!
Ah, summer: A time to frolic in the forest, to soak up the sun, to be happily on holiday… And also a time to get rocked off your regular regimen.
With Labor Day behind you, you may be thinking to yourself: “OK! I’m ready to get back into a regular schedule and get my self-care back on track! I’ll be able to go to the gym more consistently now and eat three square meals and be my best healthy self!” You, like many people, may also find yourself parked outside the gym saying, “Wait. I don’t actually know what I should do…” so you either go home or hop on the elliptical for 45 minutes.
Well, we’ve got you! We are here to help demystify what a well-rounded, effective workout looks like AND give you a ready-to-go program you can do at the gym!
5 Building Blocks For A Total-Body Workout:
1) BREATHING. Why start with breathing? Whether you're exercising first thing in the morning or later in the day, jumping right into a session can mean that your mind was ready but your body was not. Doing some deep, diaphragmatic breathing helps your body take in oxygen; it helps you use the proper muscles during movements.
2) WARM UP. Don’t worry about holding stretches for long periods of time here. That kind of stretching is better left at the end if you do it at all. You will want to move your joints around and get your heart rate up a little bit for 5-10 minutes, though, by doing some dynamic stretching (see the warmup sample below).
3) CORE EXERCISES (which includes the booty) to start. Just two or three exercises here can work wonders. You want your central nervous system to recognize what position your pelvis and rib cage should be in before starting to get into total-body/multi-joint movements. Think planks, glute bridges, dead bugs, bird dogs. Find some of our favorite core exercises below.
4) WHOLE BODY MOVEMENTS. For the body of your workout, I would rather you think of “movements” rather than “exercises”. Why? Because if you’re thinking of exercises, you may be more likely to do exercises you are the most comfortable with. In our experience it usually goes: Squats, pushups, bicep curls and hanging out on the elliptical. Don't get us wrong, those can be GREAT exercises in a well-rounded routine, but those particular examples only work the front of your body...which means your back side gets the cold shoulder.
This is where thinking of movements comes in handy. When programming, we like to think of six main movement patterns (keep reading for examples of each type!):
A. Knee dominant (such as a squat)
B. Hip dominant (such as a deadlift)
C. Vertical push (such as an overhead press)
D. Vertical pull (such as a pullup)
E. Horizontal push (such as a pushup)
F. Horizontal pull (such as a row)
5) CARDIO FINISHER. Have some gas left in the tank? Get a little cardio blast in before you leave! You can do pretty much anything at the end, regardless of how much time you have.
Now let's put it all together!
Putting The 5 Building Blocks Into Practice!
Here is what your total-body workout might look like*:
BUILDING BLOCK #1: BREATHING. Do this for about two minutes.
BUILDING BLOCK #2: WARM UP. Get your body moving gently for 5-10 minutes. See the entire warmup routine here.
BUILDING BLOCK #3: CORE WORK. Perform these two exercises back-to-back with 30 seconds of rest in between. Repeat for a total of two sets.
- Anti-Rotation Planks: Do 5-10 on each side.
- Pullovers: Do 6-8.
BUILDING BLOCK #4: WHOLE BODY CIRCUIT (A-F). Do the following exercises back-to-back with little to no rest in between. Take a minute after completing the circuit to get water and let your heart rate come down. Repeat for a total of three rounds.
A. 4-2-1 Squats (Knee dominant): Do 6-8.
B. Hamstring Curls with a Bridge (Hip dominant): Do 10-12.
Note: You can also do this with a stability ball under your feet.
C. Half Kneeling Chop and Lift (Vertical push): Do 6-8 on each side.
D. Band Lat Pulldown (Vertical pull): Do 12-15.
Note: If your gym has a lat pulldown machine, you can do these there, too!
E. Floor Press (Horizontal push): Do 8-12.
F. Standing Rows (Horizontal pull): Do 8-12.
Note: If your gym has a cable machine, you can do this same exercise using it!
BUILDING BLOCK #5: CARDIO FINISHER.
Let's say you have 5 minutes left in your workout time. Pick one of these exercises and do it 5-10 times at the top of every minute, OR aim to do 3-5 rounds of 1-2 of these with a little bit of rest (if you need it) in between.
Alright! Now you've got some tools in your tool box to go out and get back into the swing of things! Of course, if you need more information or want more professional guidance on the 5 Building Blocks or what makes a great total-body workout, please don't hesitate to reach out by emailing us here or calling 312-497-8999.
Did you do this workout? Leave us a comment below!
*Thanks to Izzy for the use of all of the videos!
Our National I Love My Feet Day Gift To You: 2 Different Ways To Get Your Feet Moving Better So YOU Can Feel Better!
We here at TruFit were thrilled to learn that August 17th is National I Love My Feet Day! Putting aside the weirdness that this holiday even exists, we are excited because it means we get to share with you some easy-to-do drills to help our feet feel better!
Why should we care about our feet in the first place? Well, we trainers like to say that everything in the body is connected. Because it is. If you have cranky feet and ankles that don’t move well, your body will find another place to get that movement instead. This can lead to aches, pains and even injuries to your knees, hips, spine or even your shoulders or neck.
I’m sure you’ve heard the word “fascia” before. Think “plantar fasciitis”, a condition where the fascia — a thin layer of tissue that wraps around the muscle — gets tight and pulls everything together in the foot, causing pain in the heel or arch of the foot (most commonly). The thing is, if we look at our anatomy trains (below) we can actually see that the posterior fascial line (fancy, I know) starts at the bottom of the feet, runs up the calves, up the back of the thighs, up either side of your spine, into your neck and up your head and finally finishes at your EYE SOCKET. I had a client who always got headaches half an hour into her run. When she rolled her feet out with a lacrosse ball before runs guess what happened? She stopped getting headaches.
It is all connected.
So, yeah, you could say we like feet.
One trainer at TruFit trainer who really loves feet is Kathryn Lehner! I couldn’t think of a better person to take us through some warmups for our tootsies to help them (and the rest of our bodies) feel better.
Ready to watch? Check it out below! Please leave us a comment below to let us know how you feel!
August 9 is National Book Lovers' Day! To tip our reading glasses to the art of literature, we thought we would compile a list featuring the TruFit trainers' favorite books concerning fitness-related topics like exercise, nutrition and mindset.
Have some of your own favorite books! Share them in the comments below
The Whartons' Stretch Book: Featuring the Breakthrough Method of Active-Isolated Stretching by Jim Wharton and Phil Wharton
We're always hearing clients bemoan their lack of mobility so this is for anyone looking to feel more flexible and pain free!
Pressing Reset: Original Strength Reloaded by Tim Anderson and Geoff Neupert
For anyone who feels like their body "doesn't move like it used to" and could use some help learning gentle and effective ways to feel better. TruFit is lucky enough to have three trainers certified by Original Strength and this book is a wonderful way to get introduced to the movements and philosophy.
The New Rules of Lifting Supercharged: Ten All-New Muscle-Building Programs for Men and Women by Lou Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove
This is for the fitness enthusiast who would like to follow a program on their own either at their own gym, at a hotel gym while traveling or outside of seeing their trainer ;)
Kettlebell Simple and Sinister by Pavel Tsatsouline
This is for anyone interested in kettlebells, likes to see and feel progress and wants to have a STRONG training option that doesn't take all day.
Lean Habits For Lifelong Weight Loss: Mastering 4 Core Eating Behaviors to Stay Slim Forever by Georgie Fear
For people who more or less know *what* to eat but could use help creating better habits surrounding their food. Written by Izzy's nutrition coaching mentor Georgie Fear, this is a fast, digestible read! (See what I did there?)
Food Rules: An Eater's Manual by Michael Pollan
With such great rules as, "If you are not hungry enough to eat an apple, you are not hungry," and, "Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food," this book is for anyone looking to simplify their outlook on nutrition (and maybe question some of the rules Pollan has to share).
Why Me Want Eat: Fixing Your Food F*ckedupitude by Krista Scott-Dixon
Part nutrition lesson, part journal and part comedy, this is great for those who love to take their pen to paper. You can literally draw throughout this book while learning to figure out how to have a better relationship with food.
Never Let Go: A Philosophy of Lifting, Living and Learning by Dan John
Izzy thinks of Dan John as the Pope of personal training. This is a great read for anyone about the philosophy of exercising, no matter what your fitness level is.
Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and into Your Life by Gary John Bishop
Not exercise-specific but asks lots of great questions to think about if you're the one getting in the way of achieving your health and exercise goals. (See Izzy's piece on goal-setting here.)
Habitual Strength by Tim Anderson
Yep, another Tim Anderson book! *This* book is for anyone who is curious about the power of forming habits, just like strength is a habit, no matter how old you are! It helps people achieve their big goal of moving the needle in people's lives from good to better to best.
It’s Father’s Day Weekend and what better way to celebrate than to share some delicious (AND nutritious!) grilled veggie side dishes that will compliment any protein you choose to have, from ribs to salmon, brats to pizza (which my dad loves to grill on a pizza stone)!
The good news is you can grill pretty much anything so our only limiting factor (when it comes to grilling veggies in particular) is creativity. We chose our personal favorite veggies (and even threw in a bonus fruit for dessert) for this post and hope you enjoy the heck out of them as you celebrate Dad’s big day!
For each of these, you can lightly oil the the grill and preheat to medium so that the temp hits about 425 degrees. Preheat for about 5 minutes.
All recipes serve 4.
1 bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed off.
2 tsp olive oil, divided
2 tsp balsamic vinegar, divided
Dash of salt and pepper to taste
ZUCCHINI (same as the asparagus with different timing)
3-4 small- to medium-sized zucchini, ends sliced off, cut length-wise into quarters
2 tsp olive oil, divided
2 tsp balsamic vinegar, divided
Dash of salt and pepper to taste
6-8 rainbow carrots, ends trimmed and cut in half length-wise
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp herbs de Provence
Salt and pepper to taste
4 nectarines (or peaches if you prefer), cut in half and pitted
1-2 tsp olive oil
And there you have them! Easy-peasy side dishes you can grill up and enjoy, upping your dinner game (and nutritional intake!).
So, Dads (and non-dads): What are some of YOUR favorite healthy veggie grilling recipes? Share in the comments below!
May 25th is National Wine Day AND it's the start of Memorial Day weekend so we thought we'd have some fun creating a quick circuit you can do anywhere with just a few bottles of wine! (Talk about not having any excuses to skip a workout this weekend!)
Now, most wine bottles aren't terribly heavy. The rosé bottles Megan and I used weigh just under 3lbs each but that doesn't mean they won't be effective! We're focusing on moves you can do for high amounts of repetitions or that you can do for time!
We also understand that not everyone drinks alcohol and the great news is you can use almost any other items you have around the house, from detergent bottles to carry-on suitcases! It just takes a little imagination!
Let's grab our vino and go!
Perform each exercise back to back with little to no rest in between exercises. Aim for 3-4 rounds!
1A Forward Lunge With Wine Curl -- 12-15x on each side
1B Wine Bottle Dead Bugs -- 8x on each side, alternating legs
1C Single Leg Deadlift With Wine Press -- 15x on each side
1D Wine Drag In a Plank -- 8-10x on each side
1E Wine Swings -- 20x
Take a 1-minute rest between sets!
LET'S DO IT!
1A Forward Lunge With Wine Curl
1B Wine Bottle Dead Bugs
1C Single Leg Deadlift with Wine Press
1D Wine Drags In a Plank
1E Wine Swings
We'd like to send out a super special shoutout to Sandeep and Vinic Wine in Downtown Evanston! We LOVE our fellow small businesses around town and they were SO kind to let us use their space (isn't it so cool??). Can't wait to come in for a tasting and sit out on your patio this summer, friends!
In the meantime, have a great weekend and enjoy it responsibly ;)
Happy National Superhero Day! We all like to feel strong, capable, invincible even...a superhero in our daily work and personal lives. When we think of heroic acts, daring rescues from burning buildings and tales of battlefield bravery often spring to mind. But heroism on a smaller, individual scale is also worthy of acknowledgement and celebration.
When do you feel the most heroic and empowered? Maybe it’s after teaching your son or daughter an important life lesson, or nailing your new self-care routine, or successfully completing that major work project. Maybe it’s after hitting a new mile mark on your run, or adding weight to those deadlift reps!
At TruFit, we’re all about that superhero attitude and feeling (and t-shirts, as you might already know from our Instagram!). So before you see Avengers: Infinity War this weekend, or clean out your garage, or sit down to finalize that white paper, etc., get fully pumped and in that superhero zone with these 3 Superhero-Worthy Workout Moves!
1) The Superman
While Superman flies through the air, you'd better believe he's using his core in that fully-extended plank! As Marco demonstrates the Superman above, here are some things to keep in mind:
2) The Wonderlift
Amazonian Wonder Woman is known to be one of the strongest people in the DC Universe! While that strength and power might have been handed down from the gods, it's also no secret that the stronger the glutes, the more powerful you can be! Here, Mary demonstrates a mover we're calling the "Wonderlift": The one-legged deadlift (also known as the non-surgical butt lift, if you'd like to know). Here are a few things to keep in mind:
3) The Spiderman
Climbing around like Spiderman is a total-body exercise that not only works your arms and your legs but also works your core and connects the opposite sides of your body together and allows both sides of your brain to fire! So when we say it's total-body we include your mind! Here's what to look for when performing Spiderman crawls:
Looking to build superhero strength? Start with these three exercises! Pepper them into your existing program or make a quick circuit for yourself by doing each of these exercises back to back for 3-5 rounds!
Want more assistance with your training? Feel free to reach out to us! Email us here or call 312-497-8999!
(Guest post)--Hey TruFit readers! April is National Stress Awareness Month, which means it’s a wonderful time to talk self-care. To help us, we’ve handed today’s post over to Amanda Tarver, LMT. She is the owner and practitioner of Women’s Massage Therapy in downtown Evanston, where she offers a variety of women’s therapeutic bodywork, and pregnancy and postpartum services. We are thrilled to be sharing her self-care wisdom and tips here on the TruFit Blog!
What Is Self-Care?
Self-care can involve any regular activity (or activities) that we do specifically to take care of our physical, mental, and emotional needs. Self-care can mean different things to different people, and your own self-care needs may change many times throughout your life. Examples of self-care can include:
Self-care is not the same thing as pampering. Although treating ourselves to something special can be good for our emotional, physical, or mental well-being, pampering is generally something that we engage in rarely or inconsistently (Example: Enjoying a glass of Champagne on a Tuesday; spending an entire morning in bed with some aromatherapy and a good book; splurging on a piece of art or a pair of shoes that you love). Good self-care, on the other hand, requires regular practice, even though that practice may change.
Why Should I Practice Self-Care?
When we take the time to regularly care for ourselves and recharge, we are able to be our best selves. Think about it… do your best interactions with others occur when you are feeling well or when you’re feeling poorly? People who engage in regular self-care tend to be more productive, happier, healthier, and may even live longer. Their interactions with others tend to be more positive because they feel good, which leads to improved relationships, and fewer instances of anger, frustration, irritation, etc.
Good stuff, right? So how do you get started?