As many of you faithful readers know, I’m up at the crack of dawn and at the gym before 5am (7 days a week, 365 days a year – yes, really). Going to the gym is an important part of my health regimen (both physical and mental). And although I’m not a happy camper when the alarm rings around 4:30 in the morning, I can’t imagine starting my day without visiting the gym. And because of this, I know how important it is to choose the right gym. After all, I don’t need any excuses to not go.
Thinking about adding a gym membership to your own routine? If so, consider these suggestions before making any decisions. This way, you’ll find the right atmosphere for achieving all of your health and exercise goals (as opposed to so many others who join a gym only to go a couple times and then never set foot in it again).
Location, Location, Location
Choose a gym that’s within close proximity of your home or office – depending on what time of day you’ll be using it. You want one that’s close by, easily accessible and with easy (and cheap or free) parking. Studies show that if people have to travel too far to their gym, they stop going pretty quickly. Don’t become part of that statistic by choosing a gym that’s easy to get to.
You want to choose a gym that’s accommodating to all fitness levels. Sure, it might be fun to workout amidst models and actors (good ‘eye candy’ while on the treadmill). But this could also result in your self-esteem taking a dive. Choose a facility that caters to people of all ages and sizes. It’s about community – and feeling comfortable wherever you’re crunching, bench pressing, or cardio-ing .
Try Out Any Freebies
Taking advantage of any “free workouts” or trial memberships is an important step in deciding on a gym because you truly do need to get a feel for what it’s like to workout there, atmosphere wise – and crowd wise. Be sure to test out the gym at the time of day you’ll most likely be using it. In other words, if you’ll be working out in the mornings, don’t take advantage of your free workout or visit during afternoon hours. You want to experience the conditions that will be going on at the time of day you normally workout.
Training equipment should not only be plentiful (you shouldn’t have to wait too long to use certain equipment), but should also be well maintained and clean. Equipment should also accommodate people of all skill levels. Look for posted charts and graphs that can help you through your workout.
What is the gym’s staff like? This is important to note, as it says a lot about the facility. Do you see people on staff readily helping other members? Are they on-hand to offer advice or solve problems? And what’s their attitude like? You want to workout at a place where you’re not afraid to ask questions. Also, you don’t want to feel like a sales statistic. If someone on staff comes on too strong to make the sale, make it clear you’re there to get information and won’t be making your decision during the initial visit. However they respond to this will tell you a lot about the atmosphere and attitude at that particular facility.
It might be tempting to join a gym with a friend or coworker, but don’t make that your sole reason to join. Sure, it’s fun to have someone to go with on a regular basis. But ask yourself, will you keep going even if your friend doesn’t? Whichever gym you decide on needs to feel comfortable to you even if you’ll be there by yourself.
Be careful in regard to the possibility of getting talked into hiring a personal trainer. This can be a very expensive endeavor that isn’t always beneficial unless you can afford personal training more than once per week. Most gyms come with a complimentary training session when you join. Definitely take advantage of this, but be wary of signing up for more intensive (and expensive) training unless your budget and schedule can afford it. After all, you are a supermodel who is becoming more informed about achieving overall health and can find training info elsewhere.
A Touch of Class
If you’re able to “test” the gym for free, try taking one of their classes. See what the instructors are like, how information is related to students and if instruction is easy to follow. Also take a look at the schedule and ask how often it changes. You want a variety of classes to be available. Bonus points go to gyms that offer yoga, Pilates and stretching classes. These types of classes can be as important to your fitness routine as sweating (and variety is the spice of life).
Lastly, if there are a few different gyms for you to choose from, take time to visit and try out each of them. That way you end up at the place that’s right for you – and your fitness goals – from the get go!
Do you have any tips of your own? Or gym-related war stories to share? Information you wish you had checked into before joining a gym? If so, don’t hold back! Please comment below, as I’m all ears. As opposed to all biceps (but I’m working on that).
Couldn’t wait to share the news that my upcoming book, Weightless: My Life As A Fat Man And How I Escaped (due September 9th) has been chosen by Publishers Weekly as one of their Top 10 Memoirs for Fall 2014! (On the same list as Lena Dunham and Angelica Huston? I’m truly so honored!)
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY’S Top 10: Memoirs
Daring: My Passages. Gail Sheehy. Morrow, Sept. 9
The Fall. Diogo Mainardi, trans. by Margaret Jull Costa. Other Press, Oct. 7
Father and Son: A Lifetime. Marcos Giralt Torrente, trans. by Natasha Wimmer. FSG/Sarah Crichton, Sept. 9
Fire Shut Up in My Bones. Charles M. Blow. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Sept. 23
Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned.” Lena Dunham. Random, Sept. 30
Packing Up: Further Adventures of a Trailing Spouse. Brigid Keenan. Bloomsbury, Sept. 30
Resilience: Two Sisters and a Story of Mental Illness. Pete Earley and Jessie Close. Grand Central, Jan. 6
Watch Me. Anjelica Huston. Scribner, Nov. 11
Weightless: My Life As a Fat Man and How I Escaped. Gregg McBride. Central Recovery Press, Sept. 9
The Wild Truth. Carine McCandless. HarperOne, Nov. 4
If you want to find out a little more about Weightless, you can visit (and even “like”) its facebook page. (Thanks!)
I’m not one to vent. Or to rant. But every now and then I see something in the media that really burns my britches. This very thing happened recently one morning while watching Good Morning America. During the broadcast, they aired a story featuring “America’s get-real nutritionist” who was putting down healthier foods based solely on their calorie count. While giving her advice, Rachel Beller (author of the book Eat to Lose, Eat to Win) barely mentioned the nutrient content, fullness factor or overall wellness effects of the foods she was warning dieters about.
Sure, the message of the piece was portion control, which is always a great reminder for us all (myself included). But for Ms. Beller to insinuate her girlfriends were bad examples after seeing them at a party having two glasses of potentially beneficial red wine based on the “fact” that having two glasses of red wine the same as having two candy bars is just ridonkulous when you consider the nutritional value of the two and what your body can potentially do thanks to those “calories.” Luckily, one of the GMA anchors, Dan Harris, pointed this out at the end of the segment. But still…by then the damage was done to many of us with a dieter’s mentality.
Too often books like Eat This, Not That (also occasionally featured on Good Morning America), show off a large amount of donuts as being the calorie equivalent of something that’s healthier and better for you. I know the goal is to sell books and get into the news. But this is part of the reason that America is getting fatter and fatter. We’re being fed misleading messages that derail our efforts to not only look better on the outside, but feel better (and be healthier) on the inside.
Avocado, raw nuts and red wine can all be very good for us when consumed in moderation. Is there fat in the Avocado? Sure. Are there calories in the nuts? Of course. Should red wine be consumed in moderation if okayed by your doctor? Naturally. But to compare these foods to donuts and candy bars as being the same amount of calories is really misleading and even potentially dangerous.
There’s no rocket science required for losing weight and getting healthy. All together now: Eat less. Move more. Drink plenty of water. And get lots of sleep. And be sure to include delicious, natural and unprocessed treats from nature in your diet whenever possible. And P.S. This isn’t to say you can’t enjoy a candy bar or even a donut every now and then — but I suggest not doing it at the expense of some of nature’s (key word) healthier choices.
Common sense. Sounds so crazy it just might work!
(Have there been any recent diet or health stories that have left you frustrated? If so, tell me all about in the comments section below. Together, we can take off a little steam!)
Photo Source: Good Morning America
This past weekend I flew to “fabulous” (or so they tell me) Las Vegas, where I was honored to attend the American Librarian Association’s annual Conference and Exhibition, where I got to sign advanced copies of my brand new book, Weightless: My Life As a Fat Man and How I Escaped.
I am so excited about this upcoming book, which details my journey from my birthweight of 8 lbs. and 6 oz. to over 450 pounds and then back down (and a little up and down) to a healthy 175 pounds. The book chronicles all of my “Before, During and After” adventures in a very humorous, harrowing and candid way — and even includes a bonus section with all kinds of helpful hints, recipes, tips and more for anyone who might be looking to take their own journey to a healthier weight. The book even features a foreword by the esteemed (and hilarious and inspirational) Joy Bauer.
The book comes out on September 9th and I promise to share more about it between now and then. But if you’d like, you can “like” the Weightless Facebook Page, where I’ll also be posting updates. In the meantime, here are a few pics from Vegas that I wanted to share with you. Hopefully I’ll have future signings in your area (once the book comes out) and I might get to meet you in person. But be forewarned, as the librarians attending the conference in Vegas will tell you, I don’t shut up when signing your book and ask a lot of nosy questions! Hey, that’s just me!
I first met rockstar diet and nutrition guru Joy Bauer when appearing on NBC’s Today Show to mark my 250+ pound weight loss by being inducted in the Joy Fit Club, which celebrates people who’ve lost over 100 pounds of weight through common sense diet and exercise.
Having been a lifelong dieter (and someone who still has to think about health and nutrition daily in order to maintain the weight loss), I was in awe of Joy, knowing that the kind of information she shares on the air and writes about in her New York Times best selling books are helpful morsels of knowledge that anyone can use to get or to stay healthy. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Joy also has a razor sharp wit and is as energetic off the air as she is when cameras are rolling.
Besides being NBC’s Today Show nutrition and health expert, Joy is also a contributing editor and columnist for Woman’s Day Magazine as well as the resident nutritionist for the New York City Ballet. Her recent book releases include The Joy Fit Club: Cookbook, Diet Plan & Inspiration, Slim & Scrumptious and Joy Bauer’s Food Cures.
Joy has a new television special, Joy Bauer’s Food Remedies, currently airing on PBS stations that focuses on easy nutrition fixes for various health ailments and issues. In celebration of this, I recently sat down with Joy to not only get the scoop on her TV special and pick up a few tips we can all use to win the battle of the bulge, but also to find out about Joy, herself — including which food tempts her the most.
Gregg McBride: Joy, you have a lot of initials after your name (when seen in print) — MS, RD, CDN. Do you think these professional affiliations are important for someone letting people know how they can lose weight and get healthier?
Joy Bauer: I’ve met a lot of wonderful counselors and people who can guide others to better health who do not have professional affiliations. There are individuals who have an innate gift for helping others as well as knowing which articles and books to recommend. But at the same time, there are certain advantages to working with an RD (Registered Dietitian) or an RDN (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) because it means they’re affiliated with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly known as the American Dietetic Association) and can apply that level of nutrition and even medical education to peoples’ needs.
GM: What will people learn when tuning into your PBS special?
JB: I’m really excited about Food Remedies because for the first time I have more than 2- to 3-minutes to share how approaching food differently can change someone’s life for the better — both mentally and physically. People are used to seeing me via small segments on the Today Show. But in this new special I have enough time to show how various foods and food combinations can boost energy, increase memory, get rid of unwanted weight, alleviate aches and pains, assist with Type 2 Diabetes and more. It’s a fresh approach everyone can implement to feel and look markedly better. In fact, people that watch will get a lot of the same benefits and knowledge I give to my one-on-one clients. Everything I discuss in this special is on the cutting edge of science and nutrition and has the potential to change viewers’ lives starting almost immediately. I even share a recipe I call my “Pretty Potion” (or “Handsome Helper” for the guys) that can help give people a glowing complexion, thicker hair and improve overall appearance, naturally.
Why do you think there are so many confusing messages about how to successfully lose weight? And how can people clear the clutter?
JB: Sad to say, but freedom of speech can be a potential culprit when it comes to weight loss and health-related advice. Anyone can say, write or publish virtually anything they want. This equates to a lot of confusing — and often incorrect — messages about what it really takes to get control of one’s health (whether to look better, feel better or both). At the same time, there are experts out there who have all the book knowledge, but don’t necessarily communicate it in a way that people can easily apply to everyday living. This is why I’m thrilled to be part of the Today Show and Woman’s Day. Both provide me with opportunities to take complicated information and deliver it in a way that’s inviting, realistic and helpful (not to mention easy to digest — often literally).
What do you think the biggest mistake people embarking on a diet plan commonly make?
JB: Without a doubt, it’s having an “all or nothing” mentality. In other words, people starting out on a healthier eating (or living) routine without allowing any leeway. Then, once a cheat (or momentary binge) has occurred, these people give up and go hog wild in the other direction — as far away from common sense nutrition and good health as they can. But the fact remains that no one gains weight from a couple cookies or a slice or two of pizza. In fact, every one of my success stories admits to yo-yo-ing in the past (going up and down the scale). It’s when they learned to forgive and even allow themselves the occasional treat or slipup that they finally began to win the battle of the bulge. Eating well and living a healthy life isn’t about 100% perfection. It’s about balance, forgiving yourself and getting right back on track once the slipup has occurred. Too many people wait for the next week, next month or even next January 1st to try again. I promise that getting right back to your commitment to better health will definitely be the differentiator from all the other times you’ve tried to lose weight in the past.
GM: If someone wanting to get healthier was only going to make one change, what would you recommend that single change be?
JB: I would suggest incorporating produce into every meal — mainly because produce offers high volumes of food at lower and better-for-you calories, while also being loaded with fiber and other nutritional benefits. For breakfast, add sliced tomato to a toasted English muffin with melted cheese; or simply add fresh berries to your bowl of cereal. At lunch you can add roasted peppers to virtually any sandwich. Grab a handful of baby carrots as an afternoon snack. And try my Vegetarian Eggplant Lasagna recipe or something similar at dinner time. Produce instantly ups the health quotient of a meal and is easier to incorporate than people might think.
GM: Which of your many best-selling books is your personal favorite?
JB: That’s a tough question because I have different reasons for loving each of my books. Your Inner Skinny is a great resource for dieters, while Slim and Scrumptious offers a bunch of great recipes that anyone (even people who aren’t trying to lose weight) will enjoy. For the “feel good” and “inspiration” factors, I recommend Joy Fit Club: Cookbook, Diet Plan & Inspiration, which features amazing success stories, tips and recipes from the very people who lost incredible amounts of weight. But if I had to choose one of my books as the crown jewel, it would likely be Joy Bauer’s Food Cures, which I poured every bit of of my 20+ years of experience into — making it a go-to resource for anyone who wants to increase bone strength, improve mood, lower cholesterol, take off unwanted pounds, boost memory, reduce risks for certain kinds of cancer and more — all through different foods and easy-to-whip-up recipes.
GM: Do you test out recipes on your family (husband Ian, daughters Jesse and Ayden and son Cole)?
JB: In a word? Yes. But I can never trust my husband Ian’s opinion because he attests to liking every new recipe I try (and he’s a wise man to do so). Because of this, I rely a lot on my kids, meaning two out of the three have to be won over by my new creation in order for me to pursue it further or present it publicly. At the same time, I have a whole extended family (including friends) who live close by and who I often refer to as my “Guinea Pig Taste Testers.” I’ll throw big picnics and encourage people to fill out anonymous comment cards so I get their feedback on what they liked or didn’t like about a new dish. (And yes, there have been a few duds! But don’t tell my husband that.)
GM: What is your go-to snack for filling up without filling out?
JB: My name is Joy. And I’m a nut-aholic. Whether it’s walnuts, pecans, pistachios — you name it — I’m nuts for nuts. Seeds, too. I love sprinkling pumpkin or sunflower seeds on salads, Greek yogurt and just about any other kind of food. They’re packed with nutrients like omega-3 fats, zinc, niacin, and vitamin E, nuts and seeds can help boost eye health, reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, and slow the progression of vision loss — not to mention reduce your risk for a slew of other health conditions.
GM: Aside from the PBS Special, what else is coming up in the world of Joy Bauer in 2014?
JB: I’m actually jumping out of my skin with excitement over my very first food venture, Nourish Snacks. For the past two years, I’ve been searching the globe for the most premium and mouth watering ingredients including naturally-sweet pineapple from Sri Lanka, crunchy chickpeas from 4th and 5th generation family farms here in the United States, and rich dark chocolate made in France from the highest quality share of the cacao bean crop. Now I’m using these ingredients to create snack blends with the perfect mix of nutrition and flavor. There’s an amazing variety including Posh-tashios spiked with EVOO and Mediterranean spices, Cashew Colada made with roasted cashews, toasted coconut and dried pineapple, and Cocoa Loco which is loaded with dark chocolate, cacao nibs, chia seeds and puffed quinoa. Each is formulated to keep people feeling energized and full — all for no more than 200 calories. There are no GMOs, no artificial sweeteners, no harmful preservatives, no soy protein isolate, no hydrogenated oils — in other words, no B.S. Plus, all Nourish Snacks are naturally gluten free, dairy free and vegan.
GM: Do you ever have days when you feel like your clothes are too tight?
JB: [Without any hesitation] Absolutely. Doesn’t everyone?
GM: If I wanted to make you gain 5 pounds, which tempting food would I need to send you that you wouldn’t be able to resist?
JB: Please promise not to tell anyone — but it would be vanilla ice cream with some sweet mix-ins on the side (chocolate crunchies, peanut butter chips, granola, coconut… Yum!).
GM: Don’t worry. Your secret’s safe with me.
You can click here to find out when Joy Bauer’s PBS special, Joy Bauer’s Food Remedies, is airing on your local PBS affiliate. You can also pick up more of Joy’s recommendations, recipes and tips by visiting Joy’s website.