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Gym Review: Lifetime Fitness

No matter where you live, there are several options for gym memberships.  Each gym has it’s own pros and cons, different prices, and perks to go along with your membership.  It would be helpful for readers to read an article about Lifetime Fitness before joining.

First, I must say I absolutely love this gym.  They offer varying levels of membership.  Gold, Platinum, Onyx are options to choose from.  Different clubs have different designations (Onyx is the most pricey of all).  In the Chicago area, only one location – Vernon Hills – is considered an Onyx location.

This club is decked out to the max.  It appears more like a resort than an actual gym!  There is actually an indoor soccer field on the third level.

All of the other locations look relatively the same, with slight modifications.  There is plenty high quality equipment to use.  The club features a full-service spa, a LifeCafe, and plenty of classes to take for members.

Elegantly designed, the club attracts a family type atmosphere.  The members of the club are respectful, and for the most part, very pleasant to be around!  This is a definite advantage to choosing a LifeTime fitness membership.

I can’t think of many cons to a LifeTime membership, except for the price tag.  A monthly membership at a Platinum Club can run $60+ per person.  I haven’t researched family membership prices, but it is probably more expensive than the average gym.

Of course, you get what you pay for.  LifeTime is a great club, with great people.  If you’re gym shopping, check them out at: http://www.lifetimefitness.com/index_low.html

Avoid Aspartame

Put your Diet Coke down. People drink Diet sodas all the time, thinking they are doing themselves a good thing. You might think it’s okay to drink Diet sodas, because you won’t gain weight, your sugar intake will be low, or you won’t have any adverse health effects. Wrong.

Aspartame has been around for a long time, but it wasn’t approved by the USDA until the early 80s. Here is a list of the most common side effects of aspartame:

  • Headaches & Migraines
  • Potential Seizures
  • Nausea
  • Numbness
  • Vision Problems
  • Palpitations
  • Memory Problems
  • Joint Pain & Muscle Spasms
  • Increased Anxiety / Irritability / Depression

Aspartame is found in more than just Diet Coke. It is common for breath mints and chewing gum. Anything advertised as “sugar-free” is likely to have aspartame. Be sure to check nutrition labels before purchasing foods.

From personal experience, I believe the effects of aspartame are true. If you casually drink Diet sodas, you may not notice the effects. If you drink a can a day, I guarantee you will be on the downward slope. This is such a generalization, but in time, you may not feel quite right. Your general disposition may change from positive to negative over the course of a few weeks. Headaches, vision problems, and body aches will follow.

Solution: Stick to water!

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I don’t know about you, but I am sick of the cold this winter. It’s already February – which means the worst of winter is probably over. But what better way to get away from the cold than to sit in a hot tub?

I know, most of you probably don’t have a hot tub at your house. I don’t. But the local gym is a good option – although probably half of gyms don’t have one either. If your gym doesn’t have one, I encourage you to join one that does.

The gym I go to is relatively expensive. From the spa alone, I probably reap the benefits of my membership, as I usually go relax every other day. Even during the summer. I find the hot tub therapeutic, in MANY ways:

  • I seem to sleep better after soaking before I go to bed. I am more relaxed, and enter a deeper sleep.
  • Stress is vastly decreased. Obviously.
  • Speeds up circulation.
  • Joint and muscle pain is decreased. Promotes relaxation.
  • Lower blood pressure.
  • Eliminates toxins through circulation. The toxins are literally sweat out from your body.
  • After a workout, it is just awesome. It conditions and promotes healing after you just worked your muscles.
  • Elevates heart rate, like cardio does! This is not a substitution for running on the treadmill, though…
  • Relief from diabetes and arthritis. (Check with your doctor first).

Last time I was sick, I wanted to give my body a rest from working out. Instead, I soaked every day in the hot tub. I think I honestly got over my cold faster than I would have, should I have not gone to the spa. You should try this next time you’re sick, I guarantee you will feel better FASTER!

I recommend going to the hot tub every other day for 15 minutes. If you have any heart conditions or health problems, consult your doctor first. I find the best therapy is going in for 15 minutes, out for 10 minutes, and back in for another for 15 minute round – if you have a lot of free time that day. Most hot tubs are between 99-104 degrees, and my body seems to adjust to the temperature pretty quickly.

Best times to go:

  • End of the day after work.
  • Right after workout. You can also “prime” your muscles right before a workout. I prefer to go afterwards.
  • Anytime you can allow yourself to escape. Late at night when few people are at the gym’s spa.

Take that, winter!

It tastes so good.

It’s cheap, it’s fast, it’s greasy. Why do we keep eating it?

I remember the first happy meal toy I got. It was a hamburglar race car toy, one of those cars that you pull back and automatically shoots across the kitchen floor. Pretty cool toy when you’re five. Over the last few years, Beanie Babies have been popular toy,  and last time I checked, “Alvin and the Chipmunks” toys are what the kids are getting.

Our excitement as a kid getting that “free toy” has now overlapped into adulthood. We just don’t get toys anymore – we’re just addicted to the food. Arguably, one of the best investments for McDonald’s and other chains to make cool and fun happy meal toys. They eventually create lifelong patrons for these greasy joints!

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE fast food. Everything from the double-cheeseburger, soft-taco, Big Mac, Foot-long sub and everything in between. There was a time where I could eat a value meal and then some! And seriously how about those Shamrock shakes? I STILL look forward to those every March.

Even at the height of my fast food addiction, I didn’t eat that much. Maybe once a week. But to be truly healthy, no one would recommend having even that much. Last year, I think I went to McDonald’s only one time. I figured, what the heck, might as well. It’s been a long time since I’ve tasted what I used to like.

When I bit into that double cheeseburger, it still tasted great. I had been on a withdrawal for such a long time, I couldn’t help but notice that it tasted a little bit different than I was normally used to. I could tell that it was jam-packed with sodium after the first bite! I had been on such a healthy diet, that eating any kind of greasy food just amplified the taste of sodium and fat. I could tell I wasn’t eating healthy food.

There are plenty of addictive qualities of fast food. It’s just so easy to get, relatively cheap, and the taste… But how about the ingredients themselves?

Sodium, Fat, and Sugar.

These three enemies trigger dopamine release in your brain. Highly related to addiction. I’m not going to go into the science of dopamine release, but the this neurotransmitter plays a role in other addictions (such as a drugs).

So put that double cheeseburger down, it is literally giving you a “high” that will keep you going back to the drive through…

Avatar Wellness Approach

Na’vi. 10 feet tall. Slim.

The tallest human on record was a staggering 8 ft. 11. He weighed almost 500 pounds!

In James Cameron’s movie Avatar, one of the first things you notice about the Na’vi is that they are all incredibly healthy, in a supernatural way. I don’t remember seeing a single one of them being fat or out-of-shape.

Where have we gone wrong?

Walk down any street in America and you will see plenty of obesity. A small minority could be considered tall, slim, and in shape. From a pure wellness standpoint, humans don’t hold a candle to the Na’vi.

Nature vs. Nurture

Naturally, it will probably be a long time before any human reaches 10 feet in height – and that person will probably be considered a genetic freak. There’s limits to what a human can become, but that doesn’t mean we can’t alter our paths by healthy choices.

Diet

In Avatar, we don’t get a clear picture of the Na’vi nutrition, except for a scene where an unknown pomegranate-like fruit is eaten, and another scene where Jake killed a deer-like animal. However, it is clear that the omnivorous Na’vi eat all natural foods, quite a change from the society we live in.

Fast food, grocery stores, restaurants, and even home cooking is full of processed (and usually unhealthy) food. It’s hard for us to find a diet that is composed of pure natural healthy ingredients. No wonder we look so much different than our blue 3D counterparts.

Worlds Apart

Even though the Na’vi are entirely fictional, it gives us a glimpse of what life could be like in another world – one without fast foods, candy, or processed foods – and to compare our own lifestyle to theirs.

I don’t want to be blue. I don’t want to be 10 feet tall. But it would still be pretty cool to be able to climb a tree with ease, be able to fight giant beasts (and win!), survive in nature, and pretty much be guaranteed to be thin for life.

Yes, we can learn from the movies…

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