Attitude

Self-Improvement Must Reads!

This week we share some books that we think everyone should read or at least be aware of. Self-improvement books can inspire us to make better choices and enhance our lives. Whether you are humming along in life, going through a transition, or are just a continual learner, we challenge you to check out some, or all, of these books. Keep learning. We may not always have time to sit down and read a book. A few ways to keep learning, on the run with tools like these:

• Blinkist
• Audible
• iTunes University/iTunes
• Podcasts (like Optimal Health Daily on Spotify or Precision Nutrition’s Eat, Move and Live Better podcast on iTunes)

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz.

The Four agreements offer a code of conduct that can bring about a feeling of freedom and happiness: 1) Be impeccable with your word. 2) Don’t take anything personally. 3) Don’t make assumptions. 4) Always do your best.

Think you’ve heard all you need to hear? Think again – Ruiz’s insight is the stuff of legends!

On Fire: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life by John O’Leary

After suffering burns on 100% of his body as a child, not to mention amputated fingers and more to boot, John O’ Leary learns that we might not be able to choose what life throws at us, but we can choose how we live our life. Get ready to be inspired!

Start with Why by Simon Sinek

You hear this often at Ellipse Fitness, “what is your WHY?” In order to achieve a goal, the WHY needs to be deeply personal and it needs be a driving force, or else this will probably be just another one of those goals we fall short of without ever really giving it an honest try. It’s not enough to say, “I want to lose weight.” The WHY might be, I want to be healthy so I can keep up with my grandkids or be there to take care of my spouse as we age! Almost as difficult as discovering your WHY in life is staying true to it and keeping it alive.

The 10x Rule by Grant Cardone

Think BIG! In this book Cardone discusses how to invest 10x more and reach 10x further. Success always requires more effort than we anticipate. Be obsessed with your goal. Find direction on how to shift your goals and focus to reach for more by working harder, building your commitment, and finingd inspiration to accomplish it!

The One Thing by Gary Keller

Gary encourages you to prioritize your to-dos by importance, become disciplined in what you want by creating a habit of it, do NOT multitask, visualize the steps to get to your goal, and never compromise your personal life for your professional goals…instead prioritize your work time to perfection!

What to Say When You Talk to Yourself by Shad Helmstetter

Negative programming prevents individuals from becoming and doing exactly what they want. Any amount of inspirational reading will only provide us with techniques that could work if put into practice. This book explains the principles of self-talk – a unique way of reversing negativity, optimizing outlook, focusing plans and achieving success. The key is in affirming, telling yourself the right things which then reflect in a more positive lifestyle. Sometimes it really can be that simple!

What are you waiting for??

6 Classic Favorites with a Healthy Twist!

Happy Mother’s Day!

This week we honor Moms of today and generations past! Many popular recipes from generations before were often comfort food type meals and laden with heavy creams, cheeses, and sauces. We’ll be looking at recipe makeovers for some of the most common recipes “Mom always used to make!”. What was a recipe YOUR mom always made that you would like to see a makeover for? Comment below and maybe we’ll come up with something for you!

#1 - Meatloaf

An undeniable classic! What dish better captures the essence of American households of generations past than the meatloaf? Turkey, fresh herbs and marinara sauce meld together perfectly for this delicious Ellipse Fitness recipe.

Italian Meatloaf by Ellipse Fitness

#2 - Mac 'n' Cheese

A classic comfort food that many of us grew up with and may still eat! That cheesy sauce and mass of white noodles can quickly fill a good portion of a day’s worth of calories, carbs, and fat! Instead, try this healthy alternative loaded with spaghetti squash, cheese, and spinach…but don’t worry! It still has some cheese, milk, and the base feel of Mac and Cheese.
(PS Have you ever tried Nutritional Yeast? Get that flavor of cheese with FAR less calories! Try it out and leave your comments on the blog!)

Baked Spaghetti Squash and Cheese

#3 - Spaghetti and Meatballs

Now, THAT’s Amore! One of the challenging parts of this meal is often the lack of vegetables – not to mention many serve it with butter laden garlic bread. Carbs on top of heavy carbs! Lighten up with chickpea or lentil-based noodles, toss in a few handfuls of spinach (it cooks down such that you hardly know it’s there), mushrooms, and other finely chopped vegetables, and loads of FRESH herbs to add some micronutrients to your dish, as well as great flavor!

Consider skipping that garlic bread or replace with a Wasa Light Rye Cracker. Check out the blog post from last week for zucchini noodles and meatballs for a fresh take and a major health boost!

#4 - Tuna Casserole

According to Wikipedia “Casseroles became a popular household dish in the 1950s mainly because the ingredients were cheap and easy to find at the store. Tuna casserole is a common dish in some parts of the United States, prepared using only nonperishable (AKA never expires!) pantry ingredients: egg noodles, chopped onion, shredded cheddar cheese, frozen green peas, canned and drained tuna, condensed cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup, sliced mushrooms and crushed potato chips.

Try giving that ol’ casserole an updated healthier flare with this SIMPLE and FAST Ellipse tuna white bean salad: tuna, white beans, sweet peppers, and onion served over lettuce. Have more time? Jazz it up with a little olive oil and fresh herbs!

Tuna White Bean Salad by Ellipse Fitness

#5 - Twice Baked Potatoes

Twice baked potatoes typically contain loads of butter, cheese, and sour cream which can quickly crush any attempt at balancing your meals. Instead, try an updated version by pureeing cottage cheese and egg yolk in a food processor. Add scooped out potato flesh, scallions, dill, salt and pepper; pulse until just blended. Mound filling into potato skins and place in a baking dish. Bake at 400 until heated through, 20 to 30 minutes. You will not be disappointed!

Twice Baked Potatos by Ellipse Fitness

#6 - Shepherd's Pie

Historically created to use up leftover meats (doesn’t that sound delicious?? haha), Shepherd’s Pie has a lot of varieties but can often be loaded with butter (like an entire stick!) and less healthy meat options. Try lightening it up and adding some additional nutrients to your next pie with this version containing zucchini, red potatoes, and ground turkey!

Shepherd’s Pie by Ellipse Fitness

Might We Suggest a Side Order of…Perception?

NEWSFLASH: Sensations of hunger and satiety may be linked to how we PERCEIVE a meal, far more than simply being based on how many calories we actually consume! In a couple different studies, British researchers served a 3-egg omelet for breakfast – but told the volunteers the first meal had 2 eggs and the other group was told the meal had 4 eggs (Idea Fitness Journal Feb 2018). When people thought they had eaten LESS they reported feeling hungry sooner and then ate more throughout the day than the group that thought they had eaten more. Now intuitively this sounds a little obvious, but just think of the implications! The PERCEIVED amount that you eat, may be even more important than the ACTUAL amount that you eat! Try adding larger volumes of less calorie dense foods (*cough cough* vegetables) to trick your brain into thinking you are consuming more overall.

How Can We Use This Info?

• Try serving your meals and/or snacks on smaller plates or in smaller bowls to give the visual appearance of a larger volume of food. Sounds kinda stupid right? After a little while you will get used to the size and feel satisfied that you piled your food high and still hit your goals!

• Do you eat straight out of the bag or box? This is a huge no-no for conscious consumption! Make sure to parcel out a serving in a separate container or palm of your hand and step away from the bag! Eating straight out of full size packages will give you little to no feedback of how much food you are consuming!

• Start your meals or snacks with a fist sized serving of vegetables and then add some protein from there.

Step up your snacks! How would a “snack” be perceived if it was a full side salad or serving of soup? What would that do to your perception of your next meal? Would you eat as much thinking you had just had a small “meal” snack a couple hours ago? If you struggle with eating too much, consider eating 3-5 small(er) meals, instead of thinking of them as snacks, and see what happens!

• The next time you are eating, stop for a moment and be present! Realize WHAT you are eating: the quantity, the taste, the look, the feel or texture, pay attention to your hunger cues, and be MINDFUL of your eating. Each day try to increase the amount of mindfulness you bring to your meal times, and even increase the amount of time spent on your meals and see if that helps to bring balance to the quantity of food being consumed.
(Hint: IT WILL! And you will feel much more satisfied afterwards)

Recipes to Help Get You Started!

A Light and Powerful Combo
– Dice up a whole cucumber and tomato
– Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper
– 3 ounces of diced chicken or turkey (optional)
The perception of this light meal/snack will really surprise you at only around 250 calories and 26g of protein!
*Cucumbers are only 8 calories!

Simple Chicken Salad
– Diced chicken or turkey
– Finely chopped cauliflower, sweet peppers and really any veggies!
– Plain Greek yogurt
– Dry ranch seasoning to taste.

Mix it up and serve by itself or wrapped in a lettuce leaf!

6 Strategies for Staying on Track Over Vacation

For many this time of year is a time to escape! A time to get away, explore, celebrate or otherwise enjoy themselves! And rightfully so! You should give yourself a break every now and again, and you should celebrate your health and fitness victories – but we want to give you the tools to preserve your hard work and help you get back on track upon returning!

1. Prep Meals Before You Leave

So much planning and preparing goes towards leaving town or the trip itself, but what about when you return? You will no doubt come back to a pile of work, laundry, shifted appointments, and/or approaching deadlines – set yourself up for success by freezing meals you can easily reheat when you get back! Soups generally work great for this!

2. Reasonable Expectations

Set small, achievable workout expectations during your vacation. Don’t expect to workout at the same intensity we do here every day while you are away, but plan ahead! Will you have access to a workout facility? You can easily do a total body workout with calisthenics and/or resistance tubes. Remember: even 20% of your normal workout load will make returning significantly less difficult and will help preserve the habit!

3. Pack Food

This is one of the most valuable skills to develop for those day or weekend trips! Find ready-to-eat foods that are healthy and appetizing to bring with you so you don’t end up at a fast food joint! Salads travel really well if you keep the dressing on the side, nuts and seeds are great go-to’s, and dried fruit or meat can be life-savers – but remember to check the labels for added sugars!

4. Imbibe Intelligently

Drink smart! Trade beer for wine or simple cocktails. Even tonic water is very high in sugar – it’s practically just coca-cola! Go for Seltzer/Club Soda instead and squeeze some citrus in there. Avoid pre-mixed as those are almost guaranteed to be sky-high in added sugar! Now the last tip here, and this is the big one: One glass of water before each drink will greatly cut down your overall intake as well as the impending hangover 😉

5. Don’t Punish Yourself

You are on vacation! Enjoy your favorite dinner or dessert – just moderate your indulgences! Plan for a healthy, trim breakfast and lunch if you’ll be dining decadently in the evening. Just don’t feel guilty about it.

6. Ease Back Into Your Routine

Upon returning? Go about 80% instead of 100% in sessions on your first week back, and FOAM ROLL/STRETCH! Your body will thank you and you will probably be ready to ramp it back up to normal intensity the following week if you take this approach.

Ready…Aim…Higher!

Goals! You just gotta have ’em!

It’s well into the new year and whether you had a resolution or not, you may have goals that have not come to fruition. It might just be how you went about forming your goal in the first place! Let’s talk about how to set solid and attainable goals.

Here’s a great example that I know many of us could work on: “I want to drink ½ my bodyweight in ounces of water every day for the next 30 days.” There is a how much, how often, and it is realistic!

Set a Deadline!

Just like an open-ended work project, you will likely keep pushing it off knowing you can do it tomorrow…or never. Consider having both short term and longer-term goals ranging from this week to 6 weeks to 6 months to a year. Your long term goals can have shorter sub-goals within them that will help you reach them – get creative! Just be sure to set a deadline.

Write it Down!

Why is your goal important to you? WRITE it down. If it doesn’t make you tear up a bit, it may not be important enough for you to follow through with! In the example above, drinking water, maybe you’ve been excessively fatigued, and you regularly walk around dehydrated. Your fatigue causes you to say no to playing with your kids, getting your “me” time running with your friend, or missing other life events that are important to you.

Writing goals and the “why” for them makes everything more real, and when goals are more real they are more attainable!

Be Prepared to Sacrifice!

Not everything of course! But if it required no changes to achieve your goal well, you’d have already achieved it now wouldn’t you?

You may want to ask yourself, “Is this something I’m willing to give up what I want NOW for what I want MOST?” If it’s not, you may not be ready for your goal. In our example of water, you may be craving that coffee, soda, or other habitual food/snack that is taking you away from your goal. There will be challenges along the way, but choosing rewarding goals will ultimately overcome and outweigh any strife involved in reaching them. Just make sure your goals are healthy and realistic!

Confide in Someone!

Share your goal with a confidant; a friend, your trainer, a family member, or someone you feel safe with but accountable to. Be sure to communicate to the person you share it with that you want them to hold you accountable! And that you want them to call you out if you are not taking proper steps toward your goal or perhaps taking steps away from it. One more thing that’s very important – don’t get mad at them for taking you seriously!

List Action Steps!

List at least 3 action steps you are going to take in order to achieve your goal. In the case of drinking more water:
1) I am going to buy a 40 ounce water bottle and make sure to consume 2 (assuming ~160 lbs person) servings a day.
2) I am going to keep the bottle with me wherever I go so I don’t have a reason not to sip regularly.
3) I will start by drinking 12 ounces of water first thing in the morning when I wake up.

Of course you can list more than 3 steps, you can even list steps you can take daily to move in the right direction, but the purpose of the exercise is not to get discouraged by those lofty goals you’ve set. Bring them down to Earth by listing concrete steps you can take to make them happen!

Attitude, Grattitude and What It Means For Your Happiness

At Ellipse Fitness Training Center we focus on giving you the tools to not only build a healthy body, but a healthy mind as well because we know that the two are unbelievably interconnected! So let’s talk about your attitude…

Not like that! We mean your approach to life, the way you respond to situations, and the way you are affected by things you have absolutely no control over.

Let’s face it though – just reading this post will not make you happy. There is no magic happy pill (at least none that doesn’t come with a laundry list of horrifying side-effects). BUT these suggestions will help you to live a life filled with more gratitude, awareness, and joy – and those are foundational building blocks of happiness and fulfilment!

RESPOND

You have probably heard the old saying that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond. Two different people can go through the exact same experience and respond completely differently! Although the future is unpredictable we can work on responding to uncertainty in a healthy way. Pay attention today to how you respond to different situations, and reflect on what is at the root of your anger, disappointment, or fear. Reactions often emanate from the fear of something being taken away. Which leads to our next point…

YOU'RE NOT ALONE!

Always remember this! When going through challenging times or unfamiliar situations it is easy to feel alone and outnumbered. Working in the fitness industry, we often hear others tell us how they are afraid to workout because they are self-conscious, do not believe they can perform certain moves, or think they are not “fit enough”. Remember that everyone started somewhere. No one was born with six-pack abs, coming out of the womb doing perfect push-ups… We are all in this together!

SMILE!

Yes, you! It sounds cliche, but smiling legitimately helps improve our moods and attitudes throughout the day! Going grocery shopping? Try making eye contact and giving a warm smile as you pass a stranger. What have you got to lose? Really? You might even make a new friend! Did you know smiling naturally releases dopamine, endorphins and serotonin into your body? All good chemicals that make you relax and feel happy!

CONTROL

LET GO! You have none – or at least very little – over most of the situations presented to you on a day-to-day basis. We stress ourselves out by worrying how things will turn out, or trying to change the people around us. Then the moment something does not go our way? We lose it. Whether you prefer to subscribe to the belief that everything happens for a reason or not, recognizing that you have much more control over your reactions than anything else is not only liberating but will greatly impact your mental health.

CONNECT

500 friends on Facebook, but you’ve never felt more isolated… With social media on the rise, feelings of loneliness and isolation are also increasing. In 2004, a study showed that over 25% of Americans said that they had no one to share a personal problem with. 13 years ago! Although real friendships are not born overnight, when nurtured they can grow into something you wonder how you ever lived without! Here at Ellipse Fitness we love that our membership is a close community! Those who feel connected to others on a personal level are much more likely to have higher self-esteem, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of anxiety.

Now, this next one may be the most important…

PRACTICE GRATITUDE DAILY

Let’s break that down

• Practice
– performing an activity repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency. You’ve got to put it to work! And do so in REAL TIME! Not quietly at home in the evening. Is it cold out? Get in your car before leaving your home for work and take a moment to say to yourself, “It is incredibly fortunate that I do not have to walk to work today.”

• Gratitude – readiness to show appreciation. Not just the act of showing appreciation, but the state of being prepared to show appreciation. Expect nothing, and just observe as fortunate situations present themselves to you. Then actively show your appreciation. Smile and say thanks to a co-worker who held the door for you. Did your spouse over-cook your favorite dish at dinner? Someone just made you a meal, a hot one at that. Few things are as deserving of gratitude.

• Daily – hopefully you don’t need a definition here, but this is the operative word. Daily put into practice the action of appreciation, and try to always remain prepared to show appreciation at any moment. This one small shift in perspective can and has changed the lives of many!