Finding The Joy In Fitness

Finding The Joy In Fitness

This year, resolve to shed unhappiness along with pounds.
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It's the time of year when suddenly gyms are packed and everyone optimistically swears to get into better shape. Unfortunately, within a month or so, the crowds at the gym will dwindle as the list of New Year's resolutions gathers dust in a drawer somewhere. Why is better fitness one of the top New Year's resolutions if it's one of the hardest to keep? I propose it is an issue of perspective. This year, resolve not to drop pounds or lower calories, but rather to focus on finding a fitness plan that brings you happiness.

This is not a simple task. Misery is easy. Happiness is hard. So let's take a look at 10 ways you can work on pursuing the joy of fitness.

1. Consider who you are doing this for

Bottom-line: The answer needs to be you. Really think about the fitness goals you have come up with and assess why you want them, or if you really want them at all. If you are running a mile a day just because your doctor told you to and you find you actually hate everything about running, then stop. (Don't tell your doctor I said that.) Goals meant to please other people and not yourself are unlikely to last long-term. Even if you are working out for health reasons, don't think about how you're doing it for your doctor, significant other, children, etc. Think about why you want to feel healthier and stronger. Do what you want for yourself. It's OK to be selfish about your own body.

2. It doesn't have to be expensive

The cost of a gym membership, classes, equipment, etc. can be daunting for some. Those just starting out exercising may especially want a cheaper way to dip their toes in the water. Fortunately, there are a lot of options that won't break the bank. Activities such as running, hiking, and dancing to your own music are all free. Youtube, and the internet at large, are great resources for finding free workouts and fitness tips. My personal favorite is Fitness Blender, which offers a variety of free videos online, as well as options such as meal plans and workout programs. Do some research and find the videos you enjoy.

3. Try something new

It is easy to get into the rut of doing the same workout over and over. Not only is this boring mentally, it also is ineffective at continually challenging your body. So, why not resolve to go on a little adventure and try some new, fun kind of workout. That could mean swimming, kickboxing, tennis, mountain climbing, tap dancing, whatever. Focus on some activity you have always wanted to try, and then just go do it.

4. Address areas of pain

Our bodies are smarter than we give them credit for, and pain is their way of telling us something needs our attention. Think about what parts of your body are sore, stiff or tire easily, then consider what you can do to ease the pain. This could mean strengthening a weak set of muscles, stretching or non-exercise activities such as massage or acupuncture. Whatever it takes to eliminate the pain from your body will set you on the right track for a healthy lifestyle.

5. Focus on actions over results

Our fitness success is typically measured in pounds or inches. We fall into the trap of focusing just on the end result and, when the journey to that end result gets rough, it can quickly seem like a hopeless task. It is perfectly fine to have specific result oriented goals, but put them on the back burner for the most part. Think instead about the road map to the result. Come up with specific actions, such as working out five days a week, or eating three servings of vegetables a day, that will lead to the final goal. Focus on those steps and leave the scale alone for a while.

6. Make it personal

Exercise can seem like drudgery, but try just changing your perspective. Think of it as high quality "me" time. It is a time to take care of yourself. You can be alone with your thoughts or spend the time connecting with a friend. You get to pick whatever exercise method you want and have the privilege of taking care of your body. Working out can be a very therapeutic experience. Use that time to nurture your mind, body and soul. It's all about you, after all.

7. Stay positive

Apply the concept of positive reinforcement to your fitness plan. Rather than telling yourself you can't eat that doughnut, tell yourself that you will eat a healthy home-cooked breakfast. Instead of chastising yourself for binge-watching on Netflix, praise yourself for your yoga session. Acknowledge if you slip up, but don't dwell on it. In the long run, a few lazy days or unhealthy meals will not affect your overall health. Focus on what you have done and still can do.

8. Be a child again

Children have a ton of energy. Watch them in a park or playground and you will see the little darlings running all over the place, jumping and climbing and having a great time. Now, maybe you should refrain from such behavior at work or school, but let your inner child loose a little. Run wildly around your home. Go to a playground and swing. Jump on a trampoline. Climb a tree. Play. Have fun, and let that feeling of fun attach itself to the sensation of your body in motion.

9. Find beauty in the ugliness

We tend to approach workouts as chores to check off a list. They aren't considered pleasant or pretty, just something we have to push through. Maybe you hate waking up early for your morning workout, getting sweaty, and having achy muscles. Those feelings are all valid, but you should really learn to love the grossness of exercising. Working out isn't really that glamorous. It's heavy breathing, soaked clothes, gulping water, and burning muscles. It's not about enduring the uglier aspects of exercise. It's about living in the moment and learning to love every part of the experience because you know it ultimately brings more health and happiness into your life.

10. Break the rules

You, and you alone, are in charge of your body. You make the rules, and that gives you the freedom to break them too. If one method isn't working for you, change it. Screw what anyone else has to say. It is OK to take days off from working out, or to eat a slice of cake. Really. It won't kill you. What will sabotage your fitness journey is getting so obsessive that any slight deviation from your original plan hits you as a major failure. Be kind and flexible with yourself. Make your goals, but don't let them control you.

Cover Image Credit: Bing images

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Everything You Need To Know About BANG Energy Drinks

Say goodbye to your favorite pre-workout drink.
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BANG energy drinks from VPX Sports are the hottest new products for athletes everywhere. On every can, you'll find their catchphrase "Potent Brain & Body Fuel" and it gives you just that. Clean energy, laser-sharp focus, and no sugar induced crashes are just a few of the reasons these bad boys are flying off the shelves faster than retailers can keep them stocked. Haven't heard of them? Sound too good to be true? Let me answer your questions.

What is it? It's an energy drink that's kind of like your typical Red Bull or Monster. It's a perfect substitution for pre-workout supplements or coffee.

Who's it meant for? Anyone! A better question to ask is, "Who isn't this drink meant for?" On the can, you'll find a recommendation for no one under the age of 18 to consume the drink. You also may want to steer clear of it if you're sensitive to stimulants like caffeine.

What's in it? BANG energy drinks contain zero calories, zero carbohydrates, and zero sugar. But what you can find are BCAA's, CoQ10, creatine, and copious amounts of caffeine. These are things athletes often take as supplements.

What are BCAA's? BCAA's are Branched Chain Amino Acids. They are known to stimulate protein synthesis, increase muscle function, decrease your soreness after a workout, and even aid in repairing damaged muscles.

What's CoQ10? Coenzyme Q10 is found in the mitochondria of your cells and sparks energy production. It helps produce energy your body needs for cell growth and maintenance. People often take this as a dietary supplement when they feel tired or lethargic.

What's super creatine? Creatine does a great job in enhancing athletic performance by aiding growth of lean body mass (AKA muscle). When you take creatine orally, the amount in your muscles increase and helps regenerate ATP more efficiently. According to the nutrition label, this so-called "super" creatine is bonded to Leucine to make Creatyl-L-Leucine. On SupplementReviews.com, a VPX Sports representative allegedly said the following about the Super Creatine in the drink:

"The creatine in there is actually something very special...it is the world's only water stable creatine. It is Creatine-Leucine peptide. Think of this...if you mix creatine in water, it sinks and if you mix leucine in water, it floats....if you combine the two into a peptide, it creates a water soluble and water-stable form of creatine. It also has a fatty acid chain that makes it easier to cross the blood brain barrier. The focus of the super creatine is not for muscle function, but for cognition...by combining this form of creatine with caffeine, it works synergistically for mental focus."

How much caffeine is in one can? In one can of BANG, you'll be blessed with 300mg of caffeine. This is the equivalent to over three cups of coffee.

Is that even safe? Yeah, it is. In order for the caffeine in the energy drink to be lethal at any capacity, I would have to drink 30.7 cans.

So, what are the downsides? There are two things that come to mind. One is that consumers have no idea how much BCAA's, CoQ10, or creatine is actually in the drink. It could very likely be trace amounts too small to do anything beneficial. Two, BANG energy drinks do not go through the FDA approval process.

Is it really that good? Well, out of 113 reviews of the product on Bodybuilding.com, there's an average 9.6 overall rating. Most reviews comment on the quality of the energy, the cognitive focus, and the non-existent crash once the drink wears off.

What kind of flavors can I get? There are currently eight BANG energy drink flavors on the market: Black Cherry Vanilla, Cotton Candy, Sour Heads, Star Blast, Blue Razz, Champagne Cola, Power Punch, and Lemon Drop.

Where can I buy BANG energy drinks? You can find BANG energy drinks at Amazon, your local GNC or Vitamin Shoppe retailers, Bodybuilding.com, VPX Sports' website, some gas stations, and privately owned retailers.

How expensive are they? This depends on where you make your purchase. The cheapest place to purchase your BANG energy drinks is at Bodybuilding.com for about $2.00 per can. You can find similar prices on Amazon and at your local retailers. The energy drinks are most expensive through the VPX website where you'll pay about $2.75 per can.

How does BANG compare to other energy drinks? I'll give you some data on nutrition facts and you can make your decisions based on that:

16 oz. BANG: 300mg caffeine, 0g carbohydrates, 0g sugar.

16 oz. Monster Energy (regular): 160mg caffeine, 54g carbohydrates, 54g sugar

16 oz. Red Bull (regular): 160mg caffeine, 56g carbohydrates, 56g sugar

16 oz. Rockstar (regular): 144g caffeine, 54g carbohydrates, 54g sugar

Cover Image Credit: Youtube

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I Woke up In The Middle Of The Night To Write About My Fears, They're Worse Than The Dark

One minute I'm thinking about what I want to do after college next thing I know I'm remembering the time I tried talking to a boy and choked on my spit.

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It is one of those nights when I am tired, but for some reason, I can't seem to fall asleep. So, what do I do? I pull out my laptop, and I begin to write. Who knows where it will lead. It could lead to a killer article or something that does not make sense. I mean it is almost 2 A.M. In my mind, that's pretty late.

Anyways, let's do this thing.

Like many people, thoughts seem to pile up in my head at this time. It could be anything from a time when I was younger to embarrassing stories to wondering why I am "wasting" my time somewhere to thoughts about the future. All of these things come at me like a wildfire. One minute I'm thinking about what I want to do after college next thing I know I'm remembering the time I tried talking to a boy and choked on my spit.

The thought that is going through my mind as I write this is about the future. It's about the future of my fears. Let me explain. I have multiple fears. Some of my fears I can hide pretty well, others I am terrible at hiding. My fears may seem silly to some. While others might have the same fears. Shall we start?

1. My career

I don't know where to begin with this one. For as long as I can remember, my consistent dream job has been working in the world of sports, specifically hockey. A career in sports can be and is a challenging thing. The public eye is on you constantly. A poor trade choice? Fans are angry. Your team sucks? "Fans" are threatening to cheer for someone else if you can't get your sh*t together. You can be blamed for anything and everything. Whether you are the coach, general manager, owner, it does not matter. That's terrifying to me, but for some reason, I want to work for a team.

2. My family

Julie Fox

Failing with my family, whether that be the family I was born into or my future family, it terrifies me. I have watched families around me fall apart and I have seen how it has affected them. Relationships have fallen apart because of it. I have heard people talk about how much they hate one of their parents because of what happened. I don't want that.

3. Time

This could be a dumb fear. I'm not sure, but I fear time. With every minute that passes, I am just another minute closer to the end. With every day that passes that I am not accomplishing goals or dreams I have, I am losing precious time. It scares me to think of something horrible like "What if I die tomorrow because of something horrific?" or even worse, "What if I don't make it through today?" It's terrible, I know.

4. Forgetting precious memories

When I was younger, I had brain surgery. It is now much harder for me to remember things. I am truly terrified that I am going to forget things I will want to hold close to me forever, but I won't be able to. I am scared I'll forget about the little things that mean a lot. I'm afraid of forgetting about old memories that may disappear. I'm worried that I'll forget about something like my wedding day. That might seem out of this world, but it's a reality for me.

5. Saying "goodbye"

I hate saying bye. It is one of my least favorite things. Saying bye, especially to people I don't know when I'll see again, is a stab in the heart for me. I love my people so much. I love being around them. I love laughing with them. Thought of never having a hello with them again scares me beyond belief.

6. Leaving places that I love

Alright, let me start off by saying this- it takes a lot for me to love a place. It has to feel like home. It has to make me feel comfortable. It has to be a place I can go to and be myself. Thankfully, I have had and still have multiple places that are like that. I have also had places I could not wait to leave. I think that's why leaving places I love is so hard and something I fear so much. I am afraid I'll never get that place "back", for lack of a better term. I guess, I'm trying to say, it's like a piece of me is leaving as well.




These six things are just the start of my fears. Some of these might seem "dumb" or "ridiculous" to you, but for me, it's my life. These are the things that I think about the most. These are the things that feel like a pit in my stomach. These six things are parts of my life that mean a lot to me.

Cover Image Credit:

Emily Heinrichs

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