As the year comes to an end, we begin to think about the last 12 months. We ask ourselves, ‘Did I accomplish the things I said I would in January? Am I happier? Am I stronger? Have I grown as an individual?’ Everyone wants to be better. We always want to find new ways to do more with less. People always ask me, what I’m working towards, and how I’m doing it.  Hopefully, this message will answer some of those questions. Regarding work life balance importance, I’ve put together a collection of my thoughts, the tools I use and ideas for how to implement them that I hope will be useful for you and help you find balance in multiple aspects of your life.

Giving Back

Fitness has always been a passion of mine and I was looking for ways to give back to the world. A great friend and mentor of mine (Antonio Coke) made a comment one day over lunch that stuck with me: “Life isn’t about what you take from it, but what you can give back.” Before I turned 30, I really had the mindset of taking what I could from the world. Some would refer this to “doing me.” I work for large corporation out of Chicago as my day job, and truly enjoy what I do. But I could never quite shake the feeling that something was missing.

I’m a firm believer that life works in mysterious ways, and all it takes are small moments to make a big difference. In April of 2018, I was asked to lead a class at FFC to see how I would like it. The week I turned 30, I led my first class, and got a taste of fulfillment. The feeling of giving back to the world. I later proceeded to sign up for my ACE certification in Group Fitness and had 6 months to take the exam. Fast forward to the end of September, I took the exam and passed. I was legit. Where am I going with this?

Work Life Balance Importance

Finding balance is still one of the most difficult parts of my life, even today. From working out in the morning, working a 9 to 5, and teaching at night, I needed a plan. Friends and family ask me all the time, “How do you have time for everything?”

Through trial and error, I learned that the only way I was going to be able to handle everything was with a balanced workout and diet schedule. As we get ready for the new year, I’d like to give back by providing ideas and thoughts that I have implemented in my life to bring fulfillment.

So many times, we hear about people “wanting” to do something that makes them happy but that they’re “too busy.” For me, I have found that having a morning routine, nightly routine, structured diet, and focused workout schedule helps me function at maximum capacity. Integrating all 4 of these factors has helped me find balance within my daily life while giving back to others.

Please note – the purpose of this message is to answer the questions of those who have asked about what I do and how I do it. My process and ideas below are specific to my schedule, goals, and body type.

Factor #1: Nightly Routine

Before going over my morning routine, I thought it would be better to go over how I end my days in my nightly routine. I’ve learned the hard way that if I don’t sleep the way I need to, my next day is derailed. I wake up every day at 4:00 am, and work best after seven true hours of sleep. I use the word “true”  because that is actual sleep.

I am an advocate for social media, but I push myself to not become dependent on it. Two factors that help me with that can be accessed as settings within the iPhone, and are now available with the iOS 12 update (check out this quick guide for how to set them up).

  • Downtime – I have my apps shut down from 8:00 PM – 4:30 AM
  • App Limits – I limit the amount of time I spend on Instagram (30 minutes), Facebook (15 minutes), and LinkedIn (15 minutes)

These settings help me by allowing my brain to wind down an hour before sleep. For the longest time, I found myself flicking my thumb along that screen until I was ready for bed. I’ve come to learn was that blue light and media were stimulating my brain, which delayed the time it took my brain to get to rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

REM sleep is important for many reasons, but what I was wanting especially was the muscle recovery piece. Having my apps shut down at 8:00 PM also pushed me to read books and/or journal. This helped me with allowing my mind to get away from the day and/or let anything out onto paper. Now, if I’m reading, I’m typically out within 15 minutes around 8:45 PM.

Factor #2: Morning Routine

My morning routine is important to me because I am able to start the day by focusing on myself. My day job requires me to contact customers and partners all day with minimal downtime. While teaching class in the evenings, I am giving myself physically and mentally to each participant to ensure they’re getting a workout they wouldn’t get on their own. A 4:00 AM wakeup is out of the ordinary for most, but works well for me as I like to start my day with journaling and a workout. I use the app Sleep Cycle, which gradually wakes you up versus dramatically with the default Apple settings.

I get to the gym at 5:00 AM. I always start my day with a cardio session, which varies between kickboxing and running. Each workout is followed by a long shower then back home for my first meal. Once done, it’s usually around 7:00 AM, and I am ready to head to the beautiful world of Corporate America. From the time I wake up to the time I get to work, I have already been awake for 3 hours and my body/mind is clear for the day.

Factor #3: Nutrition & Sample Diet Breakdown

Nutrition has been a key factor of success in sustaining morning workouts, evening workouts AND my day job. While working with FFC’s dietitian, Alicia Huggler, I learned I wasn’t eating enough to keep up with my workouts plus my resting metabolic rate. Now, I change my diet throughout the month as I change my workouts. Below is a breakout of what I eat on a monthly basis.


The first week of the month includes higher carb intake as I lift heavier. As the month goes on, I replace my carbohydrates with fats (which is highlighted in blue above). This resets each month as I reintroduce carbohydrates into my system. In working with Alicia, I learned many different things, such as to eat the skin of my sweet potatoes because they are a great source of fiber and nutrients.

Factor #4: Fitness & Sample Workout Breakdown

When it comes to my workout schedule, I do my best to mix things up with cardio, strength training, HIIT and circuit training. Below is an overview of the schedule along with descriptions of each focus and why I do them:

  • Cardio – I jump between kickboxing and running workouts, and do them in the morning, as they’re a great way for me to wake up and start my day with something I enjoy.
  • Strength training – I lift weights twice a week (with a focus on “pushing and pulling”) to ensure I’m retaining muscle mass while doing cardio on a daily basis. “Pushing” might include squats, shoulder press, lunges, chest press, etc. “Pulling” might include deadlifts, upright rows, rows, etc.
    • Week 1 (heavy strength training): 5-10 reps / set x 5
    • Week 2 (intermediate strength training) 10-15 reps / set x 5
    • Week 3 (light strength training) 15-20 reps / set x 5
    • Week 4 (recovery) 10-15 reps / set x 5
  • HIIT – I do evening HIIT workouts following strength training days, which allows me to increase my heart rate quickly while using weights, ropes or kettlebells.
  • Circuit training – I follow an hour-long run with circuit training a part of my Saturday morning routine because I’m following a rest day and need to wake up my entire body. I’m not looking to break records, more so integrate push, pull, and core exercises into one workout.


Weekly Workout Breakdown

I break up my schedule on weekly basis: weeks 1 – 3, heavy, intermediate, light; week 4, recovery. Some months have 5 weeks vs the typical 4; I extend week 3 (light strength training) into week 4 and perform the “light” schedule for 2 weeks.

In the screenshot above, you’ll notice a “recovery” week, where I continue movement, but at a lower intensity. I do a single workout instead of two-a-days; in the morning I use the extra time to do light stretching and foam rolling to wake up.

When it comes to technique and proper form, I work with expert FFC trainer, Jeremy Gorden. His experience in personal training has helped me with building lean muscle mass, while staying an agile runner. I always recommend hiring someone to push you plus they’ll see things you won’t.

Summing It Up

As for final thoughts, I hope this message is received not as a manual of how to live your life but, as an example to pull from. Remember, this is what works for me and what I enjoy doing. If you could take one thing from this, and it impacts you in a positive way, this is a success. As you prep for 2019, take a second to think about something you’ve always wanted to do, and just go for it.

It doesn’t matter if you’re 30, 40, or 50, we all have the choice on how to live our lives. What you give back to the world is what you’ll be remembered by when you’re gone.

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” -William Shakespeare


Post written by FFC group fitness instructor Omar Romero.

About Omar

Omar is a fitness enthusiast based out of the Chicagoland area. As an FFC group fitness instructor, his focus is around functional fitness mixed with high intensity interval training. His personal philosophy is based on hard work and no excuses. You can see his other published pieces by clicking here!

While some flavors and spices seem to transport us directly to the holidays, the truth is that the benefits we can reap from spices are so valuable, we shouldn’t just assign them to one season. Not only do spices provide great health benefits, but the enhancements they bring to food make them a no-brainer cooking addition (with almost zero additional calories!). Think about what completes the smell and taste of a dish – it wouldn’t be the same without the flavors that help make that final dish taste so delightful. Check out these 6 spices to have on hand that will improve your health!


Out of all the spices to have on hand, cinnamon is one of the most widely used. Cinnamon is loaded with powerful antioxidants, which helps protect the body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. It can also improve some key risk factors for heart disease including cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure.

Studies have shown that cinnamon can even dramatically reduce fasting blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity. It not only tastes great, but also provides manganese, iron, and calcium. Many think of cinnamon in baked goods, but you can also branch out with some new sweet and savory ideas!

3 Ways to Use It

  • Make a salty/sweet treat by adding cinnamon to popcorn.
  • Flavor plain Greek yogurt with cinnamon and top with nuts/seeds.
  • Sprinkle cinnamon in your coffee or tea to add extra spice and flavor – or even your yogurt, like this recipe!


Ginger is best known for its ability to ease nausea, motion sickness, and indigestion. It is loaded with nutrients and bioactive compounds that have benefits for not only your body, but your brain as well. It is high in gingerol, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. All these things mean it is one of the most versatile spices to have on hand.

It has also been shown to be effective against exercise-induced muscle pain due to those anti-inflammatory properties. It may not have an immediate impact, but studies show it can be effective at reducing the day-to-day progression of muscle pain. It is a very common ingredient in recipes and cosmetics. Ginger can be used fresh, dried, powdered, or as an oil.

3 Ways to Use It

  • Cut up fresh ginger and add to boiling water with a little honey and lemon to make a soothing tea.
  • Add minced garlic to stir-fries for an extra kick.
  • Add to baked goods, such as the pumpkin gingerbread muffin recipe at the bottom of this post.


Nutmeg contains phytonutrients including beta-carotene and beta-crypotxanthin. These can improve blood circulation to the brain and enhance sleep. The flavor and therapeutic actions are believed to be due to the oil it contains.

Because of its antibacterial properties, nutmeg can also effectively treat bad breath, gum problems, and toothaches – therefore, nutmeg is a common ingredient in many brands of toothpastes. It is also a spice that is used in many sweet recipes, but nutmeg can be used in a variety of other ways!

3 Ways to Use It

  • Sprinkle in milk in the evening to help achieve relaxation and induce sleep.
  • Add nutmeg to roasted carrots or winter squash for a unique savory side dish.
  • Mix with nuts, such as pecans, and roast in the oven for a tasty snack.

Related: using spices can drastically elevate your meal prep too. Need more tips on making sure meal prep is a part of your life? Check out this post!


The active components in rosemary are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic in nature. These powerful compounds include rosmarinic acid, caffeic acid, betulic acid, and carnosol, which can boost immunity and fight bacterial infections.

Rosemary also may help ease indigestion and improve blood flow due to its stimulant effects. The aroma of rosemary alone has been linked to improving mood, clearing the mind, and relieving stress in those with chronic anxiety. Many use rosemary as a garnish, but there are a variety of other ways to use it.

3 Ways to Use It

  • Chop fresh rosemary and use in a variety of broth based-soups.
  • Sprinkle rosemary on bread dough before placing it in the oven to add extra flavor.
  • Flavor olive oil with dried or fresh rosemary for zestier salad dressings.


Sage is a member of the mint family and is also known for many antioxidant properties – which makes it one of the top spices to have on hand. Tea and essential oils derived from the leaves have been used to treat digestive and circulation problems, but it has also been used to increase concentration.

Sage contains vitamin K, an essential vitamin for the body that isn’t found in many common foods. Vitamin K is key in developing bone density and ensuring the integrity of our bones as we age. It is traditionally used in savory dishes, due to its peppery flavor, but see below for alternative uses.

3 Ways to Use It

  • Sprinkle in an omelet with vegetables for a new breakfast.
  • Add to pesto with other herbs for a great flavor addition.
  • Top sage leaves on meats such as chicken, pork, or lamb.


Turmeric is popular worldwide, although until recently has not been commonly used in the U.S. It contains Curcumin, which has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant. Turmeric is a common ingredient in Indian dishes, although you can find new twists on ways to incorporate turmeric into your daily lifestyle below!

3 Ways to Use It

  • Sprinkle onto rice to bring out a wonderful color and flavor to an originally bland side dish.
  • Simmer turmeric with coconut milk and honey to make a comforting beverage.
  • Add fresh or ground turmeric to smoothies – the pungent flavor is usually well-masked but you’ll reap all the benefits!

Try This Recipe: Pumpkin Gingerbread Muffins


  • 1 ½ cup whole grain spelt flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup pure raw honey
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Line a muffin tin with liners and set aside.
  • Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Combine all wet ingredients in a medium bowl.
  • Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients – be sure to not over-mix.
  • Scoop batter into muffin pan and distribute evenly.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes and until tops are golden brown.
  • Yields 12 muffins – store at room temperature for 3 days or refrigerate for 7 days.

Post written by FFC Gold Coast Registered Dietitian Chelsea Rice.



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6 Spices to have on hand that will improve your health pinterest pin

“Unkraut wie wir vergeht nicht.” “Weeds like us don’t perish.” That was my mother’s motto all her life. It was the motto that sustained us when, shortly after my seventh birthday, she, my brother and I were captured by the Soviet army as it swept across the German province of East Prussia. Her words sustained me over the next three and a half years when food was scarce and there was no school for the German children. And those words still sustain me today.

When I arrived in the United States at the age of twenty-six in 1964 with two suitcases and $400, I still had plenty of catching up to do. While working full time as a marketing consultant to German companies interested in doing business in the United States, I earned a college degree and an MBA at night. There was little time for sleep or a healthy lifestyle in those stressful days and I gave little thought to my wellness, or to my junk-food-heavy diet of Entenmann coffee cake and beer.

And then, one day, after my then girlfriend told me that I looked pregnant, I took up jogging and also started to play tennis in Riverside Park. But, however fit I was, nothing prepared me for the shock of losing my job and the death of both my mother and my father-in-law in 1995. During that difficult year, my thoughts returned to the hardships I had faced as a child. It was time, I decided, to write a book about my unusual childhood.

Despite these obstacles, nothing could prepare me for what I was about to face. In 1998, after returning from a research trip back to Russia to visit what had once been the German province of East Prussia, I had the biggest setback of all: a triple bypass. Had all my good intentions been for nothing? As anyone who has had bypass surgery will attest, it takes its toll not only on the body but on the spirit as well. With determination, in the years that followed, I gradually resumed my healthy lifestyle and exercise routine and, in 2006, finally saw my first book Weeds Like Us go to print.


Riding a bike on the Lakefront PathOn December 1, 2007, following my wife’s retirement from her law practice, we moved to Chicago and, one of the very first things we did was to join the FFC Gold Coast club. Now, ten years of membership later, I’m more fit than ever.

When we left New York, I would bike 8 miles; now I bike anywhere from 17-23 miles along Lake Michigan. When we left New York, I could swim one half-mile; now I swim 50% further than that. When we first got to Chicago, I would take the bus home from Trader Joe’s; now I gladly carry the heavy bags and walk. When we first joined the club, I would not have dared to swing back and forth on the pull-up bar like I recently did on my 80th birthday!

So, I want to express my appreciation and thanks for the important role that the FFC has played in my life in the Windy City. It’s not just how fit I feel, it’s also the wonderful friends I’ve made at the club, both among the members and the staff. You’ve helped to make my mother’s motto come true. Weeds like us don’t perish!



Gunter Nitsch Weeds Like Us


Post written by FFC Gold Coast member Gunter Nitsch.

You can read more about Gunter and his book, Weeds Like Us, by visiting his website here!



Try FFC for free in Chicago


FFC Gold Coast member Gunter celebrating his 80th birthday!

As we age, it becomes increasingly important to maintain a well-rounded diet and exercise program. Though a wellness-focused lifestyle has always been important, recent studies have shown the growing correlation between exercise and lower blood pressure, improved cholesterol, the reduction of symptoms of diabetes, Parkinson’s, the risk of heart attacks and heart disease and many other ailments. Take a look at these 4 invaluable benefits of exercise for aging populations – and especially integrating and maintaining a regular exercise routine in your life regardless of your age!

Improved Balance

According to a study conducted by the CDC, falls by seniors are responsible for 800,000 hospital visits a year, costing Americans over $32 billion – an average of $30,000 per hospital visit! There are hundreds of research articles showing a reduction in injury-causing falls when people participate in well-conceived strength and balance training programs.

A good balance training program should consist of a few traditional balance exercises, core and trunk intensive training and very importantly strength training. A strong lower body will have an easier time recovering from a loss of balance and generating a stronger walking pattern compared to a weaker body, no matter how much balancing practice they do. And don’t just focus on lower body. A good training program will work the whole body so that it can function as one piece.

Related: click here to register for a FREE 1-hour personal training session at FFC!

Better Quality of Life

A good trainer can tailor exercises to fit your daily life and keep you able to do things you love, or even improve them. A study from the Journal of Applied Physiology shows that as we age, we lose muscle mass, have reduced muscle quality, and develop wear and tear on the joints that can make everyday activities difficult or painful.

But by developing lower body strength, activities such standing up from a chair or traveling up and down stairs can become easier. A more innovative trainer can also help develop a program for more exciting activities, such as golf, tennis, swimming or playing with the grandchildren!

Related: do you have chronic pain? It might be a muscular imbalance. Here’s how Pilates can help.

Less Pain

Smart trainers can easily identify dysfunction in movement and muscles (check out this recent post to see how!) and develop programs to correct those issues. For example, people may experience pain in reaching overhead due to poor control of the shoulder blade (scapula). By improving the muscles that guide the scapula along its path and allowing each muscle to function as it is intended, studies show that pain can be reduced over time.

Even just the way you stand can have an effect on pain. Studies have shown that many issues in an aging population can be traced back to poor posture. Sticking with the shoulder as an example, slouching can cause improper stresses on the body leading to neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain and more. A forward head posture can increase stress on the neck muscles from 10-12 lbs of force to 60 lbs! By improving spine movement through the upper back and training the surrounding muscles, shoulder slouching can be reduced and in turn reduce some pain symptoms.

Stronger Heart

Age is only a number! Studies show that as long as the participant is healthy, anyone can work at a high intensity that is proper for their age, goals and ability. It has been shown that high intensity circuit training can have all of the benefits of more traditional balance and strength training, as well as have a greater impact on blood pressure reduction and fat loss.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends that participants are able to work at 85% of their heart rate for 20 minutes before participating in a high intensity interval program, but did not place an age restriction. Studies have shown that even high risk patients participating in cardiac rehab have participated in some form of high intensity training with success.


Remember- don’t let perceived limitations prevent you from enjoying all the benefits of exercise. There are many seniors active in triathlons, marathons and recreation or even competitive sports. Everyone starts somewhere and the sooner you do, the sooner you can see and feel the results from working out!

Post written by FFC Gold Coast Personal Trainer Allan Poremskis.

About Allan

Allan Poremskis is a NASM-certified elite personal trainer at FFC Gold Coast. He specializes in core and functional training, powerlifting, stability and balance, as well as post-rehabilitation work. Have questions or want to set up a complimentary consultation with Allan? Email him at!

Whether you’re taking one last seasonal trip, planning for holiday travel or jet setting for business reasons, traveling provides excitement and a new perspective. However, all that time spent getting to and from the airport, exploring new destinations and keeping up with packed meeting itineraries and happy hours doesn’t leave much time for fitness. Since many aspects of travel can be stress-inducing, it is important to fit physical activity in where you can to stay healthy and sane. Check out FFC Gold Coast personal trainer Jessica King’s 3 options that utilize a resistance band and/or bodyweight moves for a quick travel workout you can do at the airport, in your hotel room or just about anywhere!

Workout #1

  • Side raise plank left x10
  • Side raise plank right x10

Travel workout with resistance band

  • Upright row x 12

  • Bow and arrow left x 12
  • Bow and arrow right x 12

  • Tricep pulldown left x 12
  • Tricep pulldown right x 12

  • Lat pulldown left x 12
  • Lat pulldown right x 12





  • Monster Walk (walk one direction for 12 steps, come back the other way for 12 steps).

Repeat this succession 3 times.

Related: want to try out a free session (when you’re back in town) with a personal trainer at FFC? Click here!

Workout #2

  • Lunges left x 10
  • Lunges right x 10

  • Squat to press x 10

  • Alternating biceps curl with band x 15
  • Bent over row with band x 12

  • 10 tricep dips (on a chair, bench or bed)
  • 45-second plank
  • 30 bicycle crunches

Repeat this succession 4 times.

Related: along with trying to work out while traveling, eating healthy on the go can be extra tricky. Check out this recent post for some awesome tips!

Workout #3

  • Front raise left x 10
  • Front raise right x 10

  • Seated row x 12

  • Push up with band x 10

  • 40 mountain climbers
  • 30-second wall sit
  • 10 burpees

Repeat this succession 4 times.

What are some of your favorite workout moves to do on the go? Let us know in the comments!

Post written by FFC Gold Coast Personal Trainer Jessica King.

About Jessica

FFC Gold Coast personal trainer Jessica KingJessica King is a certified personal trainer at FFC Gold Coast. Her passion is exercising and helping others achieve their goals. She helps clients by changing their lives in a positive way through fitness. She challenges and teaches clients the numerous benefits of exercise and why it should be considered a lifestyle choice and not a chore. Ready to make that one-hour workout the highlight of your day? Schedule a complimentary consultation with Jessica by emailing her at!

* Above images courtesy of Google and other various sources:;;

For most of my life, I’ve struggled with developing healthy habits. Whether it was exercising enough or eating right, it never came easy for me. Despite several setbacks, I finally got it together and lost 50 lbs! My success, however, was short-lived… I went from running several miles a day to barely being able to walk one block. I started to notice that I was frequently out of breath and exhausted. Constantly fatigued and with a diminishing lung capacity, I began to put exercise on the back burner. Shortly after noticing these changes, I was diagnosed with Lupus and Sjögren’s Syndrome, both of which are autoimmune disorders that can trigger lung inflammation.

I was very fortunate to get the medical attention I needed in order to slow the permanent damage of the disease, but the medicines came with their own side effects. Adjusting to the new diagnosis meant that I was intimidated and scared about what I could do.

Related: pain? Injury? Here are 5 important fitness tips to consider.

Getting Back in the Fitness Game

When I initially decided to lose weight, I attempted to do the same workouts I had done prior to getting sick. I quickly became upset and felt defeated with what little I could do. After talking to my doctor, he suggested trying aqua aerobics and other low-impact workouts.

Sterling was more than happy to give me a series of exercises in the pool but challenged me to try weights and a little cardio. With inhaler in hand, I reluctantly showed up, committing to the one-hour sessions and at least three days a week of exercise.

There were many sessions where I was assigned exercises that I mentally thought I couldn’t do, but I tried nonetheless. I ended up being surprised by how much I could actually do in the gym! Taking things day by day, I started to see small changes.

Related: come see for yourself! Try us free – click here. 

My Results

Since joining FFC Gold CoastI’m down a total of 30 pounds. What I’m excited about, however, is my increased cardiovascular strength. When I first started, I couldn’t enter the gym without my inhaler by my side. Now, I’m able to last most sessions without it!

While I still have further to go on my health journey, I’ve never felt so confident in my own abilities. Rather than focusing on getting back to where I was, I know now I can create a stronger, healthier version of myself.

Sterling Martin is a CPT at FFC Gold Coast. If you too are suffering from an autoimmune disorder and would like to contact Sterling, please email her at

Post written by FFC Gold Coast member Kandace T.

In June 2015, I had the realization that I was at my highest weight. I had been in denial that I was gaining weight for a few years prior to that; the weight had just inched its way on over time. This weight gain was greatly due to secretly binging on comfort food and snacks in order to soothe my emotions and numb my stress. Before binging, I would yo-yo diet. I would lose weight but would then gain all of the weight back plus more. I finally had to accept what I had read for years – diets don’t work! I decided to make the highly recommended “lifestyle change” of eating healthy and exercising.

Weight Loss Success Starts with Nutrition

With the help of a nutritionist, I finally changed my eating habits to be nutritious and healthy without any calorie restriction. My nutritionist has helped me discover healthy foods that I like. Eating nutritiously feels good. I have so much more energy now. I’ve learned to eat a proper balance of proteins, carbohydrates and fats.

I am able to track these macronutrients, along with my daily caloric intake, using the MyFitnessPal app. Tracking my food intake every day has been a critical component of my weight loss. It helps keep me honest and accountable of what I’m eating and keeps me aware of how many calories I have remaining for the day. I’ve been told that nutrition is 80% of losing weight so eating nutritiously and having portion control is a daily effort.

Related: check out this post for tips on using the MyFitnessPal app to lose more weight!

Personal Training Has Made All the Difference

My favorite part of losing weight has been incorporating exercise into my daily life. When I hit my highest weight, I joined FFC Gold Coast and requested a personal trainer. I knew that I needed guidance for which exercises would help me lose weight and how to use the machines. Also, I needed support, motivation and encouragement. I was paired with trainer Jessica Korda, and I’ve been working with her ever since.

She took the time to understand my weight loss goals and the reasons I felt I needed help from a trainer. She customized an exercise plan that would help me reach my goals. Jessica uses full bodyweight lifting, strength and resistance training, and cardio techniques with me. She’s taught me that spot-training doesn’t work. All of the exercises we do contribute to overall weight loss in the body. She’s taught me the importance of building muscle mass in order to burn extra calories at rest.

Related: want to check out a club for yourself? Click here to try us for free!

Fitness is Enjoyable

Working with Jessica, I’ve discovered many new favorite exercises: deadlifts, bench presses, weighted squats, and all weight machines. I have really surprised myself at how strong I actually am. I also participate weekly in a HIIT class that is part of the Performance Training Center. This class helps burn additional calories while causing rapid shifts in heart rate. These shifts help to burn more calories. The class is challenging, but the instructor, people and music make it a lot of fun.

In order to make a lifestyle change, I had to ask for help. That’s why I involved the help of a nutritionist and personal trainer. I could not have changed my lifestyle and lost 65 lbs on my own – I wasn’t mentally or emotionally strong enough. I needed guidance, encouragement, instruction and support. I had to accept that weight loss would be a slow and steady process and would require my patience. I have lost 65 lbs over the last 18 months which is just under an average loss of 1 lb/wk. I’m not at my goal weight, but I’m definitely on my way and I know 100% I will reach it!

Heather’s 4 Tips for Finding Success with Weight Loss

  • Weight loss is a slow and steady journey. You need to have patience. With a slow and steady approach, weight loss can be sustainable.
  • Spending money to get help from a personal trainer and nutritionist is an investment in your health. You are worth investing in yourself.
  • Both good nutrition and exercise should become part of your daily lifestyle change. They are necessary to maintaining a healthy body inside and out.
  • Break a large weight loss goal down into smaller weight loss goals (5 lb loss or even 2 lb loss). Achieving these small goals provide a positive feeling of accomplishment and pride.

Put most simply, metabolism is the term used to describe the chemical processes responsible for maintaining life.

There is a lot of information surrounding this subject – especially when it comes to exercise and nutrition. With that, of course, comes myths. Below are 5 common myths about metabolism, debunked!

Myth #1: Your metabolism stops working as you get older.

Due to possible loss of lean muscle mass, your metabolism can slow down slightly as you age, but the amount is very little. By building a lean and muscular body through diet and exercise, you can maintain a fast metabolism, even as you age.

Related: do you know your resting metabolic rate? Or why it’s important? Find out here! Plus a resting metabolic rate calculator you can use.

Myth #2: Eating [insert “magic” food here] will boost your metabolic rate.

Unfortunately, no “magic” food will help speed up your metabolic rate. Yes, some studies have shown that green tea and hot chili peppers temporarily boosts them, but the boost is not great enough to show significant results physically.

Myth #3: Eating late at night after 8 PM can cause weight gain and slow your metabolic rate.

Very little evidence supports the fact that eating late at night can slow things down.  However, many of us do not choose the best snack options in the evening. It is the excess calories and poor food choices that can lead to weight gain, not necessarily eating past 8 PM.

Related: want to indulge a little bit? Check out this post on how to practice mindful eating while you do to decrease calorie consumption & later cravings!

Myth #4: You cannot lose weight because of a slow metabolism/ you cannot gain muscle because of a fast metabolism.

Many of us believe we have a slow or fast metabolic rate due to previous success/failure of our goals. The best way to determine how fast or slow your metabolic rate is to complete a Resting Metabolic Rate test. This test will tell you the appropriate number of calories to eat daily. Even with calculators and apps out there to provide this information, many recommendations are inaccurate and only provide an estimate.

Myth #5: Very low calorie diets can jumpstart weight loss.

Eating fewer calories than your body burns each day is essential for weight loss. However, creating too large of a caloric deficit can be very harmful for our bodies.  By severely limiting calories, your body begins to take energy from other sources. This can lead to your body burning more muscle than fat. Over time, it can also lead to a weakening of your bones.

Interested in setting up a consultation with Chelsea? Email her at!

Post written by FFC registered dietitian Chelsea Rice.

My name is JP and I’ve been in the fitness and training industry for 7 years – from a personal trainer to fitness director. Here on the blog we always tend to see client testimonials, but I want to do something different – give another perspective. A personal trainer’s side.

Thus, here is my trainer testimonial about one of my very first clients and what she has taught me.

I met my client early on in a not-so-common situation. It was my 3rd month at my new job as a personal trainer when I was called down for a customer service-related request. I was new and eager so I rushed to the scene. My help was needed for a free session for a member in lieu of a bad experience with a personal trainer.

I walked into the office and was met with a family of four. Katina, my unexpected future client, her husband and two kids. It was actually her husband that was the one with the bad experience. I tried my best to get him to give us another shot, but no matter how hard I tried, he was set on cancelling the membership. I was feeling pretty defeated.

However, between the commotion of 4 adults cramped in a tiny office and 2 kids fighting with each other, it ended up being Katina that took me up on the offer. She wasn’t even a member at the time. So we got her on a guest pass and scheduled a session.

The next week she tried a class I taught. I definitely didn’t take it easy on her (not my style), but she took it like a champ. We did the personal training session as well, and I think that’s where our connection began. We say it all the time now: together we are a bad combination. I never let up, and she never backs down.

Starting a Routine

She promptly signed up for 3 days a week for a month. Here I was, with a 39-year-old woman that had never worked out in a gym- ever- and had only done the elliptical. What to do? Short answer: whatever I wanted. She never questioned anything I made her do. She might not have liked it, but she did it anyway!

After one month she saw some progress. I was ecstatic. It was the first client I was able to actually get through 12 sessions on schedule!! She lost weight, she got stronger, she felt better. What I didn’t realize at the time, though, was that it was more than just the physical wins and tangible things that were important to Katina. It took me a while to figure out what else I was offering her as her trainer.

Over the next 4 years we trained for weight loss, strength, competitions, races, you name it. I’ve been there for her for just about everything, or at the very least texted her before and after to hear how she crushed whatever she was going after. People watched us train and thought we were crazy. Battle ropes, cleans, attempting to climb walls outside, pulling me on a sled through the gym. We would just laugh and say “this is the easy stuff.”

Related: want to sign up for a free training session at FFC? Click here!

Challenging the Trainer

I was challenging her, alright. It wasn’t until this year she challenged ME. Katina signed us up to do the Spartan Race, a 5-mile run riddled with mud and 20 plus obstacles. Of course I agreed thinking she’d forget because it was months away. I should have known better; she’s a woman that researches everything and even keeps a spreadsheet of her runs!

The day of the race finally came. Then, and only then, did I realize I actually had to go through with it. We both had no idea what we were in for. The racecourse was nuts! There was mud up to our hips, 10-foot walls, barbed wire… pure insanity. But we stuck through it. I helped her with the obstacles and she slowed down on the run for me.

What I Learned

After the race I had a new outlook on what I did for her all these years. It wasn’t just counting reps, helping her get stronger or lose weight. It was more than that. For the first time, she helped me, coached me, made me feel comfortable and didn’t let me give up. She didn’t yell because I ran slower than she did or get mad when I needed water. She supported me when I needed it and encouraged me when I thought I couldn’t make it.

The last 4 years have been a joy, to say the least. She’s never missed a session and I’ve never cancelled one. We’ve cried, we’ve laughed, we’ve had 2-hour sessions, we’ve even been mad at each other to the point of not even saying a word. Through our relationship, I can finally see what I truly offer as a trainer: support, trust and friendship.

Want to train like us? Here’s a sample workout. Show us your results with #FFCChicago. Good luck!

Related: “Member Stories: How FFC Helped Me Get Fit & Become a Beast By 40.”

JP & Katina’s Workout

  • 50 push-ups
  • 50 sit-ups
  • 50 cleans
  • 50 lunges
  • 50 wall balls
  • 50 kettlebell swings

Repeat twice. This workout takes Katina just under an hour!

Post written by FFC Gold Coast Fitness Director JP Maund. 

About JP Maund

Some see working out as a thing they do- run x miles, lift x weight. To me, it’s more than that. It’s a mindset and a lifestyle. It’s not that I’m into fitness, more so it’s that I want to impact people on a daily basis. Fitness is as routine as brushing my teeth and as unconscious as taking a breath. It’s not easy, by any means. But as with most things in life, “nothing in the world is worth having or doing unless it means effort, pain and difficulty.” – FDR Contact for a complimentary workout with an FFC personal trainer!

When it comes to bars in Chicago, the Gold Coast neighborhood is full of go-to spots favored by locals and tourists alike.

Bars, boutiques, restaurants, and nightlife make this neighborhood ideal if you’re looking for something fun and different. From swanky lounges to dart-friendly dive bars, Chicago Gold Coast bars have something for everyone. And if you can’t find something on this list, you can always check out our best rooftop bar guide!

So if you don’t already live in the area, you’ll want to make plans to visit these local “watering holes”:

Booth One (formerly Pump Room) – 1301 N. State Parkway (Ambassador East Hotel, formerly the Public Chicago Hotel)

This Gold Coast gem continues to dazzle guests with its 1930s glamour. Locals and visitors come together here to sip craft cocktails and enjoy a library transformed by live music nightly.

Insider tip: Make this your first stop since the bar closes at midnight every Friday and Saturday!

3rd Coast & Wine Bar – 260 N. Dearborn Parkway

Around since the 1920s, this café/bar has it all – amazing food, wine, beer, and handcrafted cocktails.

While enjoying the menu items, guests can mingle and marvel at the ever-changing artwork featured on the walls.

Insider tip: Go for dinner and stay for drinks while you immerse yourself in the atmosphere and discuss the art.

Three Dots and a Dash – 435 N. Clark St.

This Chicago staple needs no introduction. After all, what’s not to love about a tiki bar in the heart of Chicago?

Serving signature cocktails in take-home survivor mugs, merrymakers can sip cleverly named drinks like “Don’t Touch My Bikini,” “Pinky Gonzales,” and my personal favorite, “Dr. Funkhouser.” They also have a rum list that contains more than 250 selections, including rare bottles.

Insider tip: Reserve this for special occasions such as birthdays or bachelor(ette) parties. Get in character, and imagine you’re being whisked away to a tropical location!

Benchmark – 1510 N. Wells St.

Journey slightly outside the Gold Coast to our neighbors in Old Town for this Four Corners Tavern Group sports bar.

This is a perfect spot for meeting up with friends, listening to good music, watching some TV, and maybe even participate in a Harry Potter trivia night. Great drinks and a relaxed atmosphere pair perfectly with contemporary decor and a modern menu.

Insider tip: Friday and Saturday nights are usually pretty lively, so arrive early to snatch a table and avoid the line!

Zebra Lounge – 1220 N. State Parkway

For a completely different experience try a piano bar with a twist… or stripe. (Fun fact: Of all the bars in Chicago, Zebra holds the third oldest liquor license in the city!)

With live piano seven nights a week, this lounge boasts local and national talent. Staff describe the atmosphere as simple elegance – a trait they’ve held since 1929. Yes they’ve got drinks, but a truly unique reality is what turns visitors into regulars.

Insider tip: Arrive early and snag a leather booth, while you indulge yourself in a few cocktails and let the music sooth your soul.

Related: since you’re in the neighborhood, swing by and check us out. Click here to try us free!

The J. Parker – 1816 N. Clark St. (Lincoln Hotel)

As far as bars in Chicago go, this amazing rooftop overlooking Chicago’s skyline and water landscape make this one of the top (pun intended!). Not only are the cocktails tasty, but the small plates make for perfect pre-dinner eats.

They also have a seasonal cocktail menu, making it a fun place to go even in the winter. We suggest warming up with a drink from their “hot” menu. The “Rockin’ Chair” rum drink is a favorite, with hints of cinnamon and Apple Jack.

Insider tip: This is the perfect spot to start your evening. To take advantage of the incredible view, try to grab a spot in the lounge along the back window.

DrumBAR  – 201 E. Delaware Place (Raffaello Hotel)

DrumBAR is another rooftop lounge that continues to be a Chicago Gold Coast favorite.

DrumBAR caters to those looking for an intimate indoor setting, as well as those looking to soak up the outdoor scenic Chicago views. Mixing everything from house cocktails to traditional libations, patrons can order anything from a single drink to bottle service.

Insider tip: This is a great spot to go with a large group. Make a reservation and stay all night!

What other bars in Chicago (or Gold Coast bars) do you recommend? Let us know in the comments!

Post written by FFC contributor.

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