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I was never a healthy and active kid growing up. Instead of being outside running around or participating in sports, I’d rather sit myself in front of the TV for hours. My parents (my mom, in particular) noticed the bad eating and exercise habits our family had established. When I was in elementary school she took the initiative to sign our family up for an activity program.

The program allowed parents the opportunity to learn about how to implement a healthy lifestyle for their families. Once this kicked off, my mom’s awareness for what our family was eating and our exercise regime grew immensely. We started cooking more meals as a family at home, going on family walks, and decreasing our fast food intake.

(Side note: my mom is my role model; she challenged herself to make this change, not only for our family, but for herself. She lost close to 30 lbs while turning our family’s habits from bad to good.)

As for me, I became more aware of my body throughout middle school. I was not overweight; I was heavier than most kids though. I struggled with how I looked, being called names, and not having the confidence to do things that others around me were doing. By high school, as most teens do, I grew. Luckily taller. I felt better about myself; I started to become more aware of the changes my mom had made. This allowed me to notice what I was eating, how often, and how often I exercised.

It wasn’t until my senior year that I felt my best I had in high school. I overheard a classmate tell someone she ran a half marathon, and then it hit me – ‘I want to do that’.

Running into Trouble

I put together a running plan for myself, bought some new running shoes, and started eating better than I ever have. I fell in love with running; I was able to accomplish something that I never thought possible for myself. This training plan led me into my freshman year of college.

I was running and working out everyday. When it came to nutrition, though, I was eating the bare minimum. I finally felt happy with my body and I was afraid I would gain weight with the slightest indulgence. I thought I looked good. While I did loose the “freshman 15”, I was too thin. Family and friends were worried about me. Looking back, I was worried about myself.

I let this fitness ‘high’, so to speak, take over my mind and body. Yes, I looked good, I was eating healthy, and I felt good. I didn’t realize that this goal of losing weight was still implanted in my mind.

Related: a registered dietitian shares tips on how to realistically have a better relationship with food. Check out the post here.

Managing Moderation

Three years have passed since my freshman 15 ‘drop’; I work out everyday, eat incredibly healthy, and feel more confident in how I look and who I am. Being happy with how you look and who you are is challenging. There are times I struggle – allowing myself a rest day, or when I want to count macros.

Someone once told me to ask myself “Is this a helpful thought?”

So I continue to do so, I talk to my brain when it tells me not to eat the pizza or cupcake. I think, ‘is this helpful?’ Or ‘will it affect me to have one slice of pizza?’ Generally, the answer is no, and doing so allows me to be self-aware of my thoughts and the impact they have on my choices.

I challenge you to do the same on your own journey.

Post written by FFC Park Ridge Kids’ Club Supervisor Carolyn Perry; photos provided by Carolyn Perry.

Follow along with Carolyn on her Instagram here!

With the weather getting colder, it’s getting easier and easier to stay inside – so much so that you might start to feel a little cabin feverish! Don’t worry – the global flavors of these easy lettuce wraps (that are also vegan AND gluten-free) are a light, delicious way to elicit the wonders of the world – without stepping foot into the ever-dipping wind chill. These Egyptian spiced avocado corn radicchio lettuce cups are packed with delicious, healthy flavor and work for more than just dinner. Serve them as a light appetizer at a party or serve them to your kids for a fun hands-on dining experience. Crunchy, creamy, and refreshing – these lettuce cups are satisfying any time!

Easy lettuce wraps recipe for vegan Egyptian Spiced Avocado Corn Radish Salad

Level: easy
Servings: 6
Ready in: 10

Ingredients

  • 1 head radicchio lettuce *
  • 4 ears corn
  • 6 small radishes, diced
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large avocado, diced
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds**
  • 2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon each: paprika, coriander, turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½  teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • Fresh cilantro, to garnish

Easy lettuce wraps: Egyptian Spiced Avocado Corn Salad recipeDirections

To prepare the radicchio: use a small paring knife to cut a circle around the core of the lettuce.  Remove the core. Gently peel off the radicchio leaves, one at a time, until you have reached the small heart of the lettuce. Wash and rinse the radicchio leaves. Set aside to let dry.

To make the Egyptian spiced avocado corn filling: husk and wash the corn. Cut off the kernels from the cob. Place into a medium bowl. Trim and dice the radishes. Halve the grape tomatoes.  Pit and dice the avocado. Add these to the bowl with the corn. Add the sunflower seeds, cumin, paprika, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Stir well to combine. Taste to adjust seasoning.

To make the radicchio cups:  Fill each radicchio cup with about ½ cup of the avocado corn filling.  Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve.

* Radicchio lettuce tip: radicchio is a bitter salad green, adding an interesting flavor to balance the sweetness of the corn and the richness of the avocado. If you don’t enjoy the bitter flavor (or if making this for kids and picky eaters), swap out the radicchio for bibb or even romaine lettuce.

** Chef’s calorie tip:  If you want to reduce the amount of calories in this recipe, swap out the sunflower seeds for a can of chickpeas or a cup of raw, sprouted beans. The chickpeas and beans will be lower in fat, while adding extra fiber and protein.

Yield: 12-16 lettuce cups (5-6 cups of just the filling).

Post written by FFC group fitness instructor Katie Simmons.

More about Katie: Katie is a group fitness instructor at FFC and is also a personal chef based in Chicago. She specializes in creating delicious, healthy recipes for those with special dietary concerns like gluten-free, oil-free, plant-based, and low-residue. You can see more at www.plants-rule.com. You can also see more recipes at www.facebook.com/plants-rule and follow her on Instagram at @chefkatiesimmons.

 

Nutrition Facts

Serving size: 1/6 of a recipe (about 2 or 3 lettuce cups).

Amount Per Serving

  • Calories 262.38
  • Calories From Fat (57%) 148.42

% Daily Value

  • Total Fat 17.74g 27%
  • Saturated Fat 1.9g 10%
  • Cholesterol 0mg 0%
  • Sodium 219.74mg 9%
  • Potassium 679.02mg 19%
  • Total Carbohydrates 23.82g 8%
  • Fiber 6.31g 25%
  • Sugar 6.85g
  • Protein 8.53g 17%
  • Calcium 16.78mg 2%
  • Iron 42.75mg 238%
  • Vitamin A 519.82IU 10%
  • Vitamin C 9.92mg 17%

 

For Your Pinterest: Easy Lettuce Wraps: Egyptian Spiced Salad Lettuce Cups

Easy plant-based Egyptian spiced salad lettuce cups

As the year winds down (2018, where the heck did you go?), it’s only natural that we start to think about new beginnings too. And sure, you could wait until January 1 to think about your big goals — but starting a little earlier gives you all the time you need to visualize what you want to create for yourself and nail down the strategies you’ll take to get there. Ready to formalize your big, scary aspirations for 2019? Here’s a handy DIY guide to smart goal setting!

This guest post is adapted from one that was originally featured on aSweatLife.com.

Smart goal setting 101: open your notebook.

Yes, we’re going old school pen-and-paper for this smart goal setting session. We’re big fans of the tactile and visual elements of this exercise. The way you set up your paper gives you freedom within a clear structure to write out your thoughts in a concise way.

A DIY guide to smart goal setting with aSweatLife

Photo courtesy of aSweatLife

Do this:

  • Draw a line down the middle of the paper and write “vision” on the left and “goals” on the right.
  • Underneath the goals side of the page, divide it into three sections – they’ll be for your one-year, five-year and ten-year goals.
  • Finally, under each yearly increment, write down “career,” “personal,” and “health.” You’ll eventually come up with a goal categorized underneath each of these umbrellas.

Start with a vision.

Close your eyes and imagine your ideal day ten years from now. Like, the absolute best day ever, where everything goes perfectly and you’re able to do all your favorite activities — regardless of schedules, transportation, and hours in a day.

There is no right or wrong way to create a ten-year vision. It might be a stream of consciousness, words that provoke feeling, song lyrics that describe how you feel or a full walk-through of your day from start to finish. The more specific, the better. Go through your ideal day, and do it more than once to pick up on more nuances each time that you can use for better specificity.

Do this:

  • Close your eyes, picture your perfect day in 10 years and get creative as you write it down.
  • This process will set you up for the “goals” side of your paper in the right column. After envisioning a perfect day ten years from now, ask yourself, “How do I get there?”.

Formalize a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal.

The BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) is a goal so big that you aren’t sure if you can even attain it.

During this time, let go of any constraining thought processes. For example, don’t limit yourself to thinking that your goal has to be work-related or that it has to be 100 percent attainable. This goal doesn’t have to work right off the bat — in fact, not having it work is a part of the process, as is going back to the drawing board and re-evaluating your thinking after the next few steps.

Do this:

  • Write down your BHAGs underneath the ten-year goal section. You might have one or two (but no more than two) goals for each category – career, personal and health. It might scare you to write them down, but do it anyway.
  • Give it an exact date. The idea is to go big and take yourself seriously about it at the same time.
  • Write in the present tense, i.e. “In ten years, I am living in Colorado as a ski instructor for Aspen Snowmass.”

Work backwards from your BHAG.

By slowly taking steps back, you’ll have career, personal and health goals for a specific date in 2019 looking you in the face. These set you up with actionable goals to work towards versus ambiguous New Year’s resolutions like “I’m going to eat healthier foods this year.” This specific way of goal setting brings purpose and sense to those well thought-out sentences.

Do this:

  • Take a step back now and ask, “What’s a mid-level step to get to that goal?”
  • Still think as specifically as possible to create your five-year goals with another end date on them in 2024.
  • Finally, ask “What needs to happen in the next 365 days to make that five-year goal happen?”

Related: breaking your big goals down into smaller goals should help to prevent burnout, but what if it happens? Here are some easy tips for getting back to your baseline and recovering from burnout. 

The best (and worst) part?

These goals are meant to be displayed where others can see them – and can hold you accountable.

Here’s the cool part – the part that’s hard for a lot of us to wrap our heads around. If your goals change, that’s fine. Decide to shift your focus? Cool. Your vision changes drastically? No problem. Update your goal plan accordingly and re-post. Just because you write it down doesn’t mean you’ve signed your life away. You’ve just given yourself some daily direction to cut through the clutter and go after what you want.

Do this:

  • Put your vision and goals up somewhere and be proud to look at them daily.
  • Let others see your goals too! They’ll be able to encourage you, ask for updates, and hold you accountable.
  • If your vision or your goals change, update your goals on the display, and re-evaluate your next steps.

Now what?

The question isn’t whether or not you can do it — you’ve just practiced smart goal setting and created a space where you can do it. Your big, hairy, audacious goal shouldn’t feel quite so scary anymore. Share your goals with your friends and family so they hold you accountable in the coming year, and talk excitedly about your goals (and the mini-goals you have to tackle first) to anyone who asks you about New Year’s resolutions. You’re on your way to doing something amazing, something exciting, something that 99 percent of people won’t be brave enough to go after — shout that from the rooftops and go crush that goal.

Post written by FFC contributor, aSweatLife.

Want to learn more about aSweatLife? Head to aSweatLife.com for tips, tricks & more health/wellness content!

FFC Oak Park spa manager, Jason VonGerichten, shares massage therapy benefits related to exercise (even for just regular, everyday fitness enthusiasts – you don’t have to be an athlete!) and how it helps you, no matter what type of fitness you like.

As we’ve always been told, too much of anything can be bad for you. Did you know you could die from eating too many carrots?

Carrots!

If only eating carrots didn’t look so cool I wouldn’t have gotten hooked at such a young age…

The same methodology can be applied to your fitness routines.

Is lifting weights good for building strength? Yes. Is yoga good for your core? Absolutely. Is Pilates some sort of torture device that is irrationally good for you? Of course it is.

So should you only do any one of these things? Probably not.

In the same way you should not only do any one of these things, you should also consider occasionally integrating different wellness practices into your routine. If you add in regular massages to your routine, you can amplify your performance and see dramatic increases in results. Here are some massage therapy benefits related to each type of fitness mentioned above.

Weight Lifting

If you’re a weight lifter you probably spend a lot of time tearing up your muscles and allowing them to heal in shortened positions. Look over at the big guys on the benches. Are their shoulders rolled inward (so you can see the backs of their hands when their arms are at their sides)? Those big gains might look good now, but over time holding your shoulders in this posture can lead to any number of dysfunctions (tendonitis, rotator cuff impingement, frozen shoulder, etc.).

Getting regular massages from a skilled practitioner can help realign those shoulders before any major damage is done. With a combination of myofascial release and Swedish techniques over the pecs and shoulders, you can increase your range of motion and make sure you keep on getting swole.

Related: in addition to not taking advantage of massage, are you possibly also committing one of these fitness faux pas at the gym?

Yoga

Even yoga practitioners, who are all about stretching, core strength and mindful movement, can take advantage of massage therapy benefits. Anyone who has failed at pigeon pose will know what I’m talking about. A little troublemaker, named piriformis, is the main muscle stopping your hip from rotating the way it should. It’s typically made short and tight from holding your hip in an externally rotated position for extending periods of time (like when you’re seated). Are you seated right now? Are your feet pointed straight forward? No? Then your piriformis is becoming misshapen.

A massage therapist knows how to release this muscle through deep tissue massage and appropriate stretching, making sure your sit bones get all the way down to the mat during pigeon pose, no blocks required.

Pilates

And Pilates. You’re going to be sore after Pilates. Massage will improve your recovery time so you can get right back to getting sore again.

Here comes the shameless plug:

FFC hires only the most skilled massage therapists to staff their spas, and any one of them can help you reap massage therapy benefits and devise a massage plan to help reach your goals as painlessly as possible. Schedule a free 30-minute consultation and let us help you achieve all your fitness objectives.

Post written by FFC Oak Park Spa Manager Jason VonGerichten.

About Jason

Jason VonGerichten is the spa and retail manager at FFC Oak Park. He’s been a massage therapist for ten years, a writer for much longer, and he currently resides with his wife and three pugs in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. To set up a consultation or for more questions or information, email him at jvongerichten@ffc.com.

Bullying starts earlier than you think – but you can arm your loved ones with the tools to combat it. When we think of bullying, we generally envision the jocks in high school throwing the little guy in a locker or the mean girls on the bus making fun of someone’s hair texture. The fact is, it starts a lot earlier than that. Studies show that although bullying activity peaks in middle school, it can begin as early as preschool. What start out as simple disagreements over crayons or who gets to throw the ball quickly turn into teasing. Once a child has shown that teasing gets under their skin, it manifests into bullying. Bullying becomes a habit. Below I’ve outlined some tools one can use to help stop bullying.

Confidence as a Tool to Help Stop Bullying

The key to help stop bullying – especially in those early years of preschool and elementary school when children are forming their own personality – is to teach them to love themselves and know they have value.

At the same time, we don’t want to develop a little monster who thinks they’re better than everyone else. That’s a problem of another sort. The goal is to develop children who build a sense of self-importance and self-confidence in themselves.

They also need to learn whose opinion is important. Johnny – who picks his nose and eats glue – might not like them, but his opinion doesn’t mean as much as that of mom or dad. Developing confidence at a young age is not a quick fix either. It’s a process. It takes time, attention and cultivation. Like raising a child.

And in the age of cell phones, today’s children have it worse than children just a generation before them. Cyberbullies – the bully who doesn’t even have to be standing in front of you to upset you – is the worst. And they don’t just tease children. Most adults have dealt with this on some level. If allowed to fester, bullying could lead to poor grades in school, depression, sleep disorders, drug use, incarceration or even suicide. It cannot be allowed to fester.

Martial Arts as a Tool to Build Confidence

I have a potential solution for you. I say potential because there is no catch-all, quick-fix answer to eliminating all of the jerks in the world. My potential solution is training martial arts. And no, I’m not advocating kids just wallop the guy who stole their pencil. Martial arts, in addition to teaching self-defense, teach self-confidence in the individual from the word go.

In my classes, I tell my students they are individuals and they are part of a class, but I do not promote that they are on a team. I don’t think there is anything wrong with team sports, but I believe in today’s world – where often everyone gets a trophy and having 3 or 4 good players wins you a title – children can get lost in the mix.

In martial arts, you succeed or fail by what you put into it. Sure, Mom or Dad or the babysitter get participants to class, but once they step on the mat it’s all up to the student. And sure, that can be intimidating, but the right instructor – one who is a real educator and builder of people – can inspire that child and arm them with the tools to deal a not-so-friendly world.

Related: learning how to take a step back can help too – here are some simple tricks for practicing mindfulness.

I have more to tell you so stay tuned. Better yet, come train with me at FFC Park Ridge – my classes are for all ages; 4 years through adults. Both classes and private lessons are available.

Post written by FFC Park Ridge Martial Arts Instructor James Hirth.

About James

James started teaching students, ages 4 and up, in Tae Kwon Do and self-defense at FFC Park Ridge in October. For more information or any questions, email him at jhirth@ffc.com.

I walked into my first spin class a very depressed woman. I’m not exaggerating—just a week before accepting my new position at FFC’s Oak Park location, I was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder, depression, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. My battles for mental health are the result of genetic pre-dispositions and having grown up under the spell of a hyper-controlling and abusive father who is currently serving a prison sentence for a felony domestic assault.

I came to FFC during a major depressive episode—I almost didn’t even accept the job when Larry offered it because I didn’t believe I could thrive in a new atmosphere, especially one in the fitness industry. I, like many of my fellow depression survivors, fall into ruts of inactivity. Couple that with some bad body images, and you’ve got one very anxious couch potato in a gym full of people who are actively living their lives. Obviously, I accepted the job—with the encouragement from my husband—and I’ve loved working in Oak Park’s Local ’84, making connections, and catching that active energy from my coworkers that I couldn’t quite find within myself.

FFC Oak Park employee spotlight ChicagoIt has been about four months since I sent Larry the email to accept the open position, and I’ve experienced a change in my GAD, depression, and PTSD symptoms. I give a lot of credit to the positive working environment that FFC provides, but I also have to give credit to the first spin class I attended with Amy O’Dea. (Full disclosure: some credit must also go to my therapist and psychiatrist and their diligence in getting me on the correct mix and dose of medications.)

On a Wednesday morning in April, I walked into Studio 1 (very tired after losing many hours of sleep to anxiety over my first spin class) to fulfill my New Employee Orientation requirement to take a group fitness class, and was greeted by a highly energetic instructor, Amy. She was genuinely happy to be there and equally excited to help me set up my spin bike.

Related: how exercise helped save FFC Lincoln Park employee Nicole Achille’s life.

As members trickled in, my heart raced—I’d like to think it was because I was pedaling and I was working up a sweat, but I was also experiencing a rush of cortisol from neuron to neuron… and I was feeling quite anxious. I wish I could remember every little detail of that first 45-minute class, but the only thing I’m sure of is that my legs kept moving.

For years, every time my sister was visiting from DC, she would try to get me into a spin class with her. Every time, I turned down her offer—largely due to the anxiety triggered by trying something new. Now, I can’t go a week without fighting with that red resistance lever.

How spinning helped me overcome anxiety, depression and PTSD.In that first class, I was convinced I would fail. I truly did not have faith in my body; I didn’t believe my legs could carry me through the class. “Focus on the beat, and trust your legs,” I hear Amy repeat that affirmation several times as she leads us through various drills in the subsequent classes I’ve taken, and it’s still much easier said than done. But that day, when I finally listened and allowed a little trust of my legs, a few tears crept from my eyes. I wasn’t in pain, and my chest didn’t hurt. Yet there I was, pedaling hard against the heavy resistance and fighting even harder against the urge to cry.

“You woke up today. You made it here,” Amy likes to remind us at the beginning of most classes. To some, it might sound like cheesy “fitspo,” but for me, it’s a reminder that I’m alive, that I made an active choice to participate in life, that I can move my body, and I can trust myself.

I cried in that first class, not because the drills were too hard, but because my body had proven my brain wrong — it had proven my GAD, depression, and PTSD wrong. Every day I get to test my limits – whether it’s spinning or returning to strength training – in combination with correct medication, my heart heals a little bit more. I’ve regained a trust in myself that lessens the power that anxiety, depression, and PTSD have over me.

“Your mind will give up before your body does,” so I choose not to believe my struggling mind when she tries to convince me I can’t keep going. Instead, I keep pedaling, keep breathing, keep living.

Post written by Rebekah Frese, FFC Oak Park local ’84 Cafe attendant.

About Rebekah

Rebekah is an Iowa native who has found a home in Chicagoland. Her hobbies include swinging kettlebells, trying to take her pet bunny on walks, and playing logic games. While on breaks at FFC, she’s preparing for the LSAT in hopes of starting law school next fall. You can find her on Instagram: @freser_.

 

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FFC employee spotlight: how spinning helped Rebekah overcome anxiety, depression and PTSD

Foundations are the beginning of all things, whether it be the first day of a new job, or training for the Chicago marathon. Present within these foundations is transformation, such as rain becoming snow. Thoughts transform into our attitudes and mindsets and eventually become our personal philosophies. Many philosophies have roots in ancient history, such as yin and yang, which comes from observing nature. Observation is the most accessible skill we have. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), is based greatly upon this – nature being of the most important (which includes us). Here’s a basic introduction to the philosophy and why you should balance your yin and yang.

In its purest form, observation derives itself from contentment and passiveness (baring in mind, though, that passiveness does not necessarily mean without action). An action can be as simple as a thought or internal response, whether that be a change in breathing, energy level, relaxed to tense, or just warm to cool. There can be an effect without an affect.

Yin and Yang Philosophy

Yin/yang philosophy began with the book Tao Te Ching, by the philosopher Lao Tsu (6th c. BC) . ‘Dualism’ is the core of yin/yang as, ‘one defining the other’. For instance, a sense of relaxation represents yin, while tense represents yang. Slower breathing represents yin, while faster breathing represents the idea of yang. Cool is more yin, while warm is more yang. A yoga pose like downward dog is very yin, while performing a deadlift is more yang.

The moon shines brightest on a dark night, while the sun is brightest during a winter day.

Our observations are intertwined in our daily lives, as well as over the span of a lifetime. Embracing the elements around us as being different, as much as they are the same, is key to grasping how they overlap and become whole. Balance is harmony and imbalance is disharmony. Yin is the heavier, darker side, while yang represents the lighter side. Yin is the moon and yang the sun. Yin reaches for the earth, as in yoga, while yang reaches for the sky, as in lifting weights. A yin personality may enjoy evening yoga classes, while a yang personality may wake up bright-eyed, ready for a workout. Yin can be calmer, quiet, and even shy – while yang is loud, high energy and outgoing. In harmony, yin and yang are balanced, and we are at our best.

Related: how to recover from burnout by getting back to the basics.

If we find ourselves sluggish and tired, we may need a yang influence in our daily activities. Conversely, we may need more yin-influenced relaxation to balance the excitement of yang. Yoga is great for relaxation, and if lacking energy, a higher intensity “yang” workout may be helpful, like a spin class. These aspects of yin and yang are just microcosms of a much larger system. The basics of yin and yang are effortless and lead to a path of self observation. Nurture balance in your life.

Post written by Jessica Heffernan, FFC Park Ridge massage therapist.

About Jessica

Jessica Heffernan, LMT, CP-AOBTA, believes that the most beneficial massage is customize for your workout goals. As a certified practitioner of Asian Bodywork, her goal is to restore and maintain the balance of yin and yang of her clients. Want to set up a consultation or experience the benefits of restorative, balancing massage? Email Jessica at jheffernan@ffc.com!

Imagine a soothing massage. Now imagine that, but for your face. Usually thought of as a pampering practice, facials are actually a very important aspect of skincare. Here’s why you need a facial, plus wellness benefits associated with a facial.

Jess, licensed and insured esthetician, suggests receiving a facial every 2 weeks (or more, depending on your preferences and skin). Besides achieving relaxation, they provide many benefits to enhance the beauty of your healthy skin, as well as address and correct concerns.

What’s involved? The process includes cleansing the skin, exfoliation and correction, followed by moisturizing and and protection with various products. You can also take the opportunity to ask your esthetician about best practices, or any questions you may have about your skin, including products to buy and ingredients you should look for/stay away from.

Benefits of a Facial

What are the benefits of a facial? Benefits of a facial include:

  • Refined skin texture
  • Prevention of imperfections such as milia and blemishes
  • Increased cell turnover, which can reveal brighter skin
  • Revival of dull, lifeless skin
  • Improved skin elasticity

Related: dealing with a breakout? Your diet could be to blame. Here’s a recipe for low-sugar breakfast options you should check out!

For anyone who love massages, you’ll be glad to know facials include a massage! And the FFC Signature Facial actually includes a back massage. The different manipulations during the facial will increase oxygen and blood flow to the skin, reducing the appearance of dark circles around the eyes, relaxing the muscles, and slowing the onset of fine lines and wrinkles while firming the muscles beneath the skin.

Regular facials promote healthy clear, well hydrated complexions leaving us all with young, beautiful skin.

Post written by FFC West Loop skincare expert, Jessica Harp.

About Jess

Jess is an esthetician at FFC West Loop who helps clients attain healthy, beautiful skin through facials, waxing and education. She looks forward to meeting you and helping you complete you healthy skin routine. Email her at jharp@ffc.com to discuss the best program for you and your skin!

I joined FFC in December last year as an early Christmas present to myself. After a successful year of racing, I was ready to head into the “off-season”. Even though I had a successful and enjoyable season, I was looking forward to taking a break from triathlon training, long runs and blistered feet. I was also looking forward to doing slightly less laundry and eating a little more chocolate. I didn’t want to let my fitness completely lapse, but I did want to give myself a mental and physical break such that I could fully recover from the stresses of competition and start next year both healthy and motivated.

Having 20 years of experience swimming competitively, I know that injury and burnout are one of the greatest threats to an athlete’s well-being. An “off-season” or, as I prefer to call it, an “alt-season” is critical to longevity in the sport. (Why do we call it an off season? Off implies a dormant state. It implies doing nothing. Training and exercise are positive experiences for me. I don’t want to stop! I just want to change focuses for a while. Hence the “alt”.)

Related: trying to recovery from fitness, work or stress burnout? Check out these 5 simple tips!

For me, FFC was the perfect place for an alt-season. With access to rock climbing, swimming and indoor CompuTrainer classes, I knew that I would be able to find lots of opportunities to keep myself happy, engaged and in-shape while I took my alt-season recovery.

Fitness is Fun

It was a GREAT alt-season. The FFC pools were lightyears better than the one I’d been training in. They were better lit, colder, better ventilated and less crowded. Even though I wasn’t specifically training my swimming for a triathlon during the months of January and February, my times got better simply because I felt better. I wanted to spend more time in the pool rather than just put in the required workout and bolt to the comforting warmth of the shower.

The same thing happened with cycling. Over the winter, I saw massive increases in my cycling power as I attended the CompuTrainer classes on a regular basis. I wanted to go to Dan’s Saturday classes and rock out to the Pandora Punk Rock station. I wanted to go to swim classes with Coach Joy because she could make me laugh. Competitions like the Indoor Time Trials or the Indoor Tri60 kept me motivated to work hard and reminded me how much I enjoyed racing and competition. By the time competition season rolled around again, I was not only energized and excited to start the season again, but I was in better shape than before! It turns out having fun leads to better training.

Crushing Goals

2016 had been a great racing year for me. I had completed my first 70.3 (ToughMan Wisconsin) and collected titles in shorter distances at Terre Haute and Wauconda. To cap the season off, I won my age group in my first-ever trip to USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals.

The next year turned out even better. Racing many of the same courses as I did the year before, I saw my bike times consistently drop by 5 MINUTES OR MORE. I broke the 5-hour mark in my 70.3 and took home the overall title. I won my age group at nationals again and ran my first-ever sub-40 10k. When I raced Chicago (consistently the single best-organized race I’ve been to and my favorite), I dropped seven minutes between the bike and the run to nail down a new PR and secure the race title.

From there, the year still got better. The highlight of the year was the opportunity to go to Rotterdam and represent Team USA in the ITU Age Group World Championships. I was so excited and nervous to go. I had never been to Europe before, much less competed on an international stage! Once again, TriMonsters had my back and the year of training paid off. I won my age group, posted a personal best 10k time and took home the title of 2017 Olympic Distance Age Group World Champion. I cried when I stood at the podium with the American flag wrapped around my shoulders. It felt so unreal. Nine months ago, when I joined FFC, I had never imagined that this was a place I could get to. I had never thought that I was capable of this.

I’m excited to see where FFC will take me from here. With a new pool at Gold Coast and a new Performance Training Center at Old Town, I’m excited to try out new toys. I’m also excited to spend time with my wonderful TriMonster training group and watch more movies on the indoor screens!

Triathlon training with TriMonster in Chicago at FFC

Post written by FFC member Jacquie Godbe. 

 

Everyone feels run down, overworked, and just plain depleted at one time or another. Getting back to a wellness baseline with your weekly schedule will keep you feeling your best and ready to take on all that life throws your way. Here are a few tips on how to recover from burnout by getting back to the basics.

What Are the “Basics”?

The main areas I focus on when I’m feeling depleted include:

  • Quality sleep
  • Nutritious meals
  • Self-care
  • Journaling
  • Connecting with others

While these seem like pretty tangible goals to maintain at the surface, these basic elements for a happy and healthy you are usually the first and easiest things to push to the backburner when our calendars are full to the brim day after day.

What’s a Personal Baseline?

What is your personal baseline you may ask? With this term, I’m referring to the point where you feel stable, secure, nourished & calm so that you can go out and be the best you while you are fulfilling all of your commitments to others and working towards your personal goals.

As an example, I feel my best when I eat healthy meals regularly, sleep at least 8 hours (even if 2 are just lying in bed & not actual sleep), working out in some capacity, (yoga, walking, Zumba), have a clean house, and a plan in place for the upcoming week. Everything on top of that, such as social events or fitting in a squeeze from my nephews are just icing on the cake.

That may sound like a lot, but if I have missed a workout due to a social event or grabbed a meal on the fly it won’t throw me off. However, if I have eaten crappy for a few days, had a few bad nights of sleep, come home to a messy house, haven’t seen anyone outside of work in a few days AND missed my daily work out then I will most likely be feeling frazzled – which will snowball into missed meetings, tardiness, forgetfulness and crankiness.

Taking time to check in with yourself to make sure your baseline needs are being met is a great way to ensure you are being the best version of yourself when you step into the world.

How to Make a Plan to Recover from Burnout (Or Prevent Burnout in the First Place)

  • Whether you work 9-5, 11-7 or nights and weekends, pick an afternoon or evening to map out your week so you can see when & where you need to be.
  • Plan for your meals as much as you can, and work towards cooking as many as possible.
  • Add exercise as an event on your calendar and aim for 30 more minutes and 1 more day a week then you currently at.
  • Pencil in some you time to journal, take a long bath; paint your nails or do something that allows you to check in with your mind, body & soul.
  • Connect with others either during one of the meals or on a walk.

Just like anything else, the more you practice the things that make you a happier you, the easier it becomes to make them fit in naturally to your day to day life.

Life Hacks to Preventing Burnout from a Busy Chick

Okay, so you may have a plan, but implementing it is a whole different story. Time and money seem to be the 2 biggest roadblocks people will bring us as to why they don’t take time for cooking, exercise and self-care. Remember, everyone has the same 24 hours in a day that you do – so make the most of the time you have. Here are a few tips for how to do that in each of the sections I mentioned above.

Nutrition & meal prep tips:

  • Wash & chop veggies for easy go to salads, hard boil eggs for protein on the go.
  • Make a big batch of soup for an easy lunch or dinner throughout the week.
  • Use a crockpot – the best invention ever for quick easy home cooked meals.

Related: need more meal prep tips? These hacks will help ensure you can actually stick to your meal prep routine!

Fitting in fitness tips:

  • Get up 30 minutes earlier OR skip TV after dinner & go on a brisk walk, jog or run.
  • Meet a friend for a workout instead of a meal – try a new class together through Groupon or Class Pass if they are offered in your area.
  • Plan to walk on your lunch break – even 10 minutes will be a great addition to your day.

Self-care tips:

  • Schedule it like you would any other important meeting, and don’t blow yourself off.
  • Look for fun ways to try something new for free. Sephora offers makeup classes regularly & local park districts often provide free or low cost events and classes.
  • Unplug everything. I mean it – start to unplug 30 minutes before bed, not looking at a screen of any kind… I bet you will fall asleep faster!

Related: insanely simple ways to practice more mindfulness in your everyday life.

Understanding Benefits of Routine

As I delve deeper into my own self-study, I have become fascinated with many different ideas and teaching, one in particular is Samskara. Yogic philosophy teaches that we are all born with a set of mental & emotional patterns that we cycle through over and over throughout the duration of our lives. These ideas and actions together create our conditioning. When repeated over and over a sort of groove is formed which can be hard to break away from. These grooves can be positive, negative, or somewhere in between. The most important factor is being aware of them, and understanding that they can be changed: you can always break an old pattern and create a new groove in your life.

Think of your morning routine, for me it involves brewing a cup of coffee – hearing the grinder, smelling it brew, and enjoying a hot mug before interacting with anyone else. I’m aware of this groove, I enjoy it and I am not trying to break it at this time.

As an example on the other side of the spectrum, when fall turn into winter and the days get shorter, my groove is to get a little mopey and blue. I exchange tea for wine and salad for carbs. A little of this is just going with the seasonal flow, but when I find myself falling out of my good habits that I worked hard to create, I make sure to get back into the positive groove(s) I created.

Why This is Important

I am a strong believer that knowledge is power, and even though most of this is basic stuff, it can be helpful for people to read what others do for wellness and to recover from burnout and keep the wheels turning in their lives, so I am sharing what I have found useful with you. Please join me in a class, I would love to be a part of your yoga journey!

About Janet

After a series of stressful sales jobs, I was searching for an outlet that would challenge my body and quiet my mind. Hours of driving, phone calls, and paperwork were leaving me stressed out and frazzled. Yoga became that outlet, and ultimately a way of life.

While the physical postures challenged my body, I learned that the calming effect(s) yoga has on my mind allow me to approach life differently. In my quest to deepen my understanding of this mind/body connection that yoga offers, I journeyed to Nicaragua where I studied with Master Trainer Meghan Currie. Since then I have been sharing my love yoga with others. My teaching style is upbeat and approachable, making all feel welcome.

In addition to studio classes, I offer private sessions for those looking to delve deeper into the physical aspect of yoga, and am continue to teach at retreats worldwide. Have questions? Email me at jctkeogh@gmail.com.

Post written by FFC Group Exercise Instructor Janet Keogh.

 

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5 simple tips to recover from burnout & other wellness tips from FFC group fitness instructor