Fast Food, Diets, and Gettin Bulky. Note the commas!

I’m always blown away at the number of fast food trash I find when taking out the garbage at the gym.  You heard that right; fast food.  I’ve found anything from McDonalds to Burrito Bomb wrappers from the gas station in the trash.  What may be even more shocking is what we have to say today about fast food and dieting.  Read on for the shock and awe.  Plus we’re going to include a question from a member of AF.

When it comes to fast food there are a few important points to keep in mind. We all know fast food isn’t the healthiest meal in town, but we also know that setting realistic goals is an important component of any successful weight loss program. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to completely deprive yourself of fast food, especially if it’s appropriate for your specific situation. In other words, if you’re crunched for time, fast food may be the only option. That said, if an occasional trip turns into common trips in the drive through, your weight loss efforts and health goals will likely suffer as a result. The key is to become a savvy shopper and watch out for calorie-laden foods with added sugars, sodium, and fat. Look for a Nutrition Facts pamphlet in local restaurants and educate yourself on their menus. If you make the effort, you’ll be able to find a sensible meal no matter where you go. Remember, balance, variety, and moderation are the words to live by when it comes to food. If you apply these principles regularly, you won’t have to sacrifice your health and wellness goals when eating out.

I’ve heard some people say dieting just doesn’t work, and that you should focus on exercise if you want to lose weight. However, this is simply not true. If you’ve ever looked at food labels and compared them to the calorie counters on your exercise equipment, you’ll likely come to some startling conclusions. It is much easier to decrease your calorie intake by 300-500 calories per day than it is to expend that many more calories each day through exercise. Researchers have addressed this issue as well, and it is generally accepted that diet is the more important variable when it comes to weight loss. Exercise is absolutely necessary however, and actually plays a much more prominent role in weight maintenance. Here’s the bottom line… You must incorporate both healthy eating and exercise no matter where you are in the weight loss process.

Here’s a question from a member: My wife thinks she’ll get big and bulky if she starts lifting weights with me. How do I convince her otherwise?

Answer: This comes up all the time, and it’s one of the biggest myths out there. First of all, women simply don’t have the proper hormonal balance to put on large amounts of muscle tissue. Secondly, even if they did have the right physiology, it would take some serious training to do it. Getting bigger muscles requires high-volume workouts (lots of sets and repetitions) and a pretty high intensity level as well. Picking up a few weights here and there isn’t a recipe for building mass—it’s what you do and how you do it that really makes the difference. Remind your wife that weight training programs can always be tailored to specific goals, so if she doesn’t want to put on large amounts of muscle, that’s just fine. Generally speaking, a full-body circuit with higher repetition ranges a few days per week would work well if she’s just looking to tone up or maintain her current level of muscle tissue. She may benefit from an individualized program based on her goals.  In that case I would suggest seeing our trainer here at Anytime Fitness of Willmar.

You’ve got Q’s, we’ve got A’s. Fat Burners & More…

If you’re a member of a gym and you’re reading this you’ve probably been involved in, or overheard a conversation about fat-burning products, energy supplements, pre-workout foods and more.  Or maybe you haven’t and you’re the kind to amp up on some good tunes on your ipod and get lost in your own workout world.  If you’re that person, no worries.  This blog post will get you caught up on the Answers to the Questions you’ve actually been trying to lip read while working those abs on the Exercise Ball in the corner. 😉

Question: There are so many fat-burning products on the market—are they helpful or harmful?

Answer: There are numerous products on the market that contain “fat burners.” Ephedrine, yohimbine, green tea extract (EGCG), bitter orange (synephrine) and even caffeine are just some examples, and they basically work by stimulating the central nervous system. This increases your “fight or flight” responses, indirectly providing energy and allowing you to process calories at a faster rate. Along with these supposed benefits, there are also side effects associated with these ingredients, including increased blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate. Another potential issue is the fact that, individually, they don’t have a real dramatic effect. As a result, companies often combine several of these ingredients into one product and then sell it as an energy or health supplement. Unfortunately, we don’t know how any one of these stimulants will specifically affect you as an individual, let alone several of them combined together. So, with that in mind, you may or may not benefit from them depending upon the individual, or forgo these types of products and focus on maximizing your training and nutrition, and speak to a qualified professional about losing body fat in the safest and most effective way possible.

Question: What should I eat or drink if I only have an hour before a workout?

Answer: What to eat before you exercise should be largely determined by timing and personal preference. Generally speaking, a large meal can take 4-5 hours to digest, a smaller meal 2-3 hours, and a large snack 1-2 hours. If you don’t digest food well enough prior to an activity, you can end up with a stomachache and cramping. This often occurs because blood (which plays a key role in digestion) is shunted to your arms and legs during activity, thereby slowing down the digestive process. Therefore, if you only have an hour to fuel yourself, it would probably be best to stick with a liquid carbohydrate/ protein shake. Liquids are processed faster than solid foods and will provide the energy you need in a shorter timeframe. Keep in mind, we’re not talking about those ice cream-based shakes from fast food restaurants. We’re talking about a sports nutrition shake that is designed for active individuals and athletes. If you want something lighter, a traditional sports drink would be a viable option as well. There are a number of products on the market in each category, so do some taste-testing to see which ones work best for you.

Do you have Q’s? If so, let us know.  We’ve got the A’s, and we’d be glad to hear from you.  Follow us on Facebook, or email your questions to

Excuses, Excuses, Snow Storm

If there’s one thing I can’t stand its excuses.  As the operations manager of Anytime Fitness in Willmar, I hear them all the time.  “One of these days…, I would, but…, I will tomorrow…”  Heck, I even had my own excuse for not writing this blog sooner, and then the snow came.  Sometimes we need that storm in our life to shake us up a bit; get us going, light a fire under us.  Mine came today.  This snow storm today woke me up, and put me in a position to realize I was making excuses not to get this blog going.  So thanks to Old Man Winter, I’m in my seat and ready to roll – no excuses.

So let’s talk about the Ex’s.  Exercise and Excuses.

There are tons of excuses why people don’t exercise, and just when I think I’ve heard them all, the truth really comes out and someone straight up tells me, “I’m too lazy.”  Wow!  Now that’s bold!  What am I to say to that? I’ll get to that in future blog, but first let me focus on the biggest excuse I hear the most.

“I just don’t have time.”  – 

Hey!  Tell me about it.  Life is busy, but if you think about it, everything you did today was something you had to do or is something you make a habit of doing because your life depends on it.  It’s true.  Consider the things you do each day.  Many of your daily cares and tasks are done out of habit, and because your life depends on it.  Why would exercise be any different?  Many in the medical field consider exercise to be a key defense against many things like heart disease and diabetes just to name a couple.  This time of year it can really help battle Seasonal Affective Disorder; aka the “winter blues”.   The time is there for so many of your other daily wants and needs.  Get out and exercise.  Your life depends on it!

The “time” excuse isn’t just generic to exercise as a part of daily living; it’s also specific to joining and attending a fitness facility on a regular basis.  It’s the most common reason I hear for not going to the gym.  Make it a part of your day; a regular routine if you will.  Make it the prelude to work, a part of your lunch break, and a stress relief to your day at the office, or time to yourself or with a friend in the evening.  Keep this in mind; working out, exercising, staying in shape, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle doesn’t need to be time consuming.  You don’t need to spend an hour or hours at the gym each day.  In fact, I would encourage that if time truly is in short supply in your life or you are one to get bored quickly with exercise, then a 24/7 gym like Anytime Fitness is the perfect fit for you. 

Personally, I still believe in the 20-minute workout made popular in the 80’s.  If time is an excuse for you, then 20-minutes should be your best reason to hit the gym.  Why?  Because everybody’s got 20-minutes to spare.  Capitalize on 20 solid minutes of exercise.  Focus on a swift walk on the treadmill, a mile run, some weight lifting, or a combination of cardio & strength training.  All of this can be done in a short amount of time on a regular basis.  It will keep your interest level up and over time will prove results.

We live in a busy world, and that’s why we’re here.  We are the club for busy people!