Snap Fitness Health & Fitness Blog

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Featured Recipe: Lemon & Dill Chicken

By: Snap Fitness

Source: American Heart Association



Fresh lemon and dill create a quick Greek-inspired pan sauce for simple sautéed chicken breasts. Make it a meal: Serve with roasted broccoli and whole-wheat orzo.



4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1-1 1/4 pounds)
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste 
3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil, divided 
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced 
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons flour
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, divided 
1 tablespoon lemon juice


Cooking Instructions

Season chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sear until well browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate and tent with foil.

Reduce heat to medium. Add the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to the pan. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk broth, flour, 1 tablespoon dill and lemon juice in a measuring cup and add to pan. Cook, whisking, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.

Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan; reduce heat to low and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a warmed platter. Season sauce with salt and pepper and spoon over the chicken. Garnish with the remaining 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill.

Salty Six - Common Foods Loaded with Excess Sodium

By: Snap Fitness

Source: American Heart Association


Eating too many salty foods can create all sorts of health problems, including high blood pressure. But did you know a lot of common foods are packed with excess sodium? It’s not just the french fries and potato chips you need to be careful with.


That’s why the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association is increasing awareness of sodium and the “Salty Six” – common foods that may be loaded with excess sodium that can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.  


Sodium overload is a major health problem in the United States. The average American consumes about 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day – more than twice the 1,500 milligrams recommended by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. That’s in large part because of our food supply; more than 75 percent of our sodium consumption comes from processed and restaurant foods.

Be sure to keep in mind that different brands and restaurant preparation of the same foods may have different sodium levels. The American Heart Association's Heart-Check mark—whether in the grocery store or restaurant helps shoppers see through the clutter on grocery store shelves to find foods that help you build a heart-healthy diet.


Sodium doesn’t just affect your heart health, but your physical appearance as well. Excess sodium consumption may make your face feel puffy, give you bags under your eyes, increase swelling in your fingers and make your jeans look, and feel, tighter. In fact, from an American Heart Association/American Stroke Association consumer poll, 75 percent of respondents stated that their pants feeling too tight is their least favorite effect of bloating which may be associated with excess sodium consumption. 


As you gear up for your next grocery store run or order from the menu, keep the Salty Six in mind. All you need to do to make a heart-healthy choice is to look for the Heart-Check mark. Another helpful tool is the Nutrition Facts label on the package and calorie labeling in restaurants, which together with the Heart-Check mark helps you make wise choices for the foods you and your family eat. Make the effort to choose products that contain less sodium. It’s worth it!



 1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), Vital Signs: Food Categories Contributing the Most to Sodium Consumption—United States, 2007–2008, February 10, 2012 / 61(05);92-98.

Attacking Heart Health – A Three-Part Approach

By: Jodi Sussner, Director of Personal Training

When discussing heart health, most people think of cardiovascular exercise.  Did you know that nutrition, stress management, and cardiovascular training all affect heart health?  To tackle heart health, consider looking at your health from a balanced 3-part approach: 


1. Proper Diet



Dietary changes to improve overall heart health include; a decreased consumption of high fat or processed meats, increased consumption of dark green leafy and cruciferous vegetables, and the inclusion of high quality, specifically mono-saturated, fats.  Diets high in these items work to decrease LDL (bad cholesterol), and increase HDL (good cholesterol).  Additionally, check with your doctor to get a baseline cholesterol level.   


Foods to include:

Lean meats – chicken, fish, turkey, and lean cuts of red meat

Vegetables – broccoli, cabbage, kale, and beets

Fruits – all citrus fruits and berries

Grains – Oats and brown rice




When you are properly hydrated, your cells can function at their best.  Proper cell hydration improves the flushing of fluids and waste products out of your system – free radicals and fatty acids within the blood stream specifically.  Make a goal to hydrate with at least ½ of your body weight in ounces each day.  This should include fresh, plain water without additional carbonation, artificial flavors or sweeteners.  




Omega-3 Fatty Acids – according to a study from the Mayo Clinic Medical Education and Research (MFMER) from 1998-2010 - can reduce cholesterol, blood pressure and the risk of blood clots.  Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fatty acid that is thought to reduce inflammation throughout the body. Overall, inflammation can damage your blood vessels and lead to heart disease.


They recommend eating one to two servings a week of fish, particularly fish that's rich in Omega-3 fatty acids or including an omega-3 supplement to your diet that contains at least 300mg daily.


Vitamin E – Vitamin E helps to neutralize free radicals and prevent heart disease because it acts as an antioxidant.  According to the Livestrong organization at, Vitamin E slows the process of plaque buildup in the arteries, which can lead to many heart problems. Foods that contain vitamin E include nuts, seeds and vegetable oil.  Or supplement with at least 600IU of Vitamin E daily.


Vitamin C - Vitamin C also prevents the activity of free radicals. According to,  Vitamin C helps to rebuild collagen which prevents damage in the arteries and decreases the chance of heart disease.  Choose citrus fruits that are high in Vitamin C (like oranges, mango, or grapefruit).  Or, supplement with at least 500mg daily. 


Vitamin D – It is well-known that North Americans don’t get enough Vitamin D each day.  As we spend more time indoors we lose the absorption of this important vitamin.  Plus, when we are eventually outdoors, we cover up with sun-blocking clothing and hats or use sunscreen to prevent sun damage.  Though good to prevent sun damage on the skin, the need to absorb Vitamin D is still crucial to preventing heart disease, increasing energy, and improving your mood.  Truestar Health recommends supplementing with at least 500 IU per day.



2. Stress Management


Stress increases cortisol levels within the body.  This increase in cortisol also promotes inflammation.  Increased Inflammation in the body forces the release of fatty acids into the blood stream.  The result is increased cholesterol and triglyceride levels.  Consider taking up a daily meditation practice or other mind/body disciplines like yoga or pilates as a way to manage stress and subsequent cortisol and inflammation.  We love the meditation support offered through Truestar Health – download and try some of our favorites here:  Travel Meditation with Truestar



3.  Cardiovascular Fitness


Though High Intensity Interval Training is the latest fitness craze, it is well-documented that consistent and moderate cardiovascular exercise is best for improving heart health and lowering blood pressure.  Consider a balanced approach to cardio that includes:  3-4 days/week using a variety of equipment options such as:  Stairstepper, elliptical, and treadmill - at the following intensities:


Steady State – Maintain the same moderate intensity heart rate throughout the entire duration of a 30-45 minute workout.  This intensity should make you winded to the point that you work up a sweat, and cannot sing a song but, could say a few sentences at a time in conversation. Do this 1x/week.


Low Intensity – Maintain a light intensity throughout the entire duration of a 60 minute workout.  For most people, this would include a long walk or an easy bike ride.  This intensity should allow you to speak easily to a friend, break a light sweat, and generally leave you feeling re-energized.  Do this 1-2x/week.


Anaerobic Intervals – Include bouts of high intensity mixed with lower intensity. You should establish an aerobic base before adding anaerobic intervals into your cardio mix.  It is recommended that you complete 2-4 weeks of steady state and low intensity workouts first (2-3 workouts/week for 2-4 weeks), before adding in anaerobic intervals.


An example of anaerobic intervals include; running for 1min, then walking for 1min.  Or, walking at a steep incline for 1 min. and then walking with no incline for 1 min.  During high intensity bouts, you should feel breathless and unable to speak a full sentence.  Use the easy interval to recover and get your heart rate back down to where you can speak 2-3 sentences in conversation. 



Looking to improve heart health and prevent heart disease takes a balanced approach.  The key is consistency and finding a way to make positive changes in all areas of nutrition, stress, and exercise.  Start in the areas that you can make the most immediate impact and add from there.  You will add years to your life and of course, life to your years!

3 Tips for Back to School Success

By: Snap Fitness

Back to school season is upon us, and in just a few short weeks the kids will be headed back to the classroom, giving you time to head back to the gym. Just like kids are preparing for the new school year, now is the time for you start preparing to get back into a regular workout routine. But after a summer packed with vacations, cookouts and suntans, you might be having a little trouble deciding how to get started. 

That’s why this month we’re making it easy for you to kick-start your workouts in just three simple steps:

1) Pick a time and stick to it – By scheduling your workout ahead of time, you’ll be less likely to get preoccupied by other things that might keep you out of the gym. If you say you’re going to work out “sometime this week,” chances are you’ll either forget (or choose to forget). Consistency is key, so pick a day, pick a time and put it on your calendar.

2) Plan your workout – Getting back into your workout groove can be a challenge, especially if you’ve been away from the gym for a little while. Instead of showing up with no game plan, sit down beforehand and decide what type of workout you’re going to do and how long you’re going to do it for. This will keep you on track, and ultimately save you more time in the long run. If you’re unsure of how to create that plan, talk to a personal trainer about your goals and ask for guidance in setting the roadmap for your success.

3) Find a partner – Having a workout buddy is an easy way to increase your motivation and accountability. It can be easy to skip out on a workout or only give a half-hearted effort if you’re by yourself, but if you know someone else is counting on you to be there, you’re more likely to show up and give it your all. Even if you aren’t at the same fitness level as your partner, having a shoulder to lean on can make all the difference.


Bonus tip: When it comes to back to school season, everyone knows it’s important to have the right supplies! That’s why this month, you can win a free “Back to School Grab Bag,” loaded with cool Snap Fitness gear! All you have to do is Like Snap Fitness on Facebook! See below to get started now.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Snap Fitness member Carlie from Salem, WI gets started on her path to weight loss success

By: Snap Fitness

Last month, we invited members to send in your stories and let our very own Jodi the Trainer help you get started on the path to creating your very own Snap Fitness success story!


One of the members selected, Carlie from Salem, WI, is looking to get started on a new chapter of her life starting and sees Snap Fitness as one of the first steps to reaching her goals.


“I am 28 years old and I finally understand how important my health really is,” she says. “One year ago I made a choice to quit smoking and I am proud to say that I have kept that commitment to my health.  The downside of this amazing achievement is that I gained a lot of unwanted weight.  It took me too long to finally realize what had happened to my body.  I finally broke down and bought a scale and when the numbers appeared I broke down in tears of depression and sadness.  This is what I called my rock bottom moment of clarity.  I knew that I had to do something different.”


Carlie is already off to a great start, having added more fruits and vegetables to her diet, preparing her meals ahead of time, and of course joining her local Snap Fitness. Now Jodi the Trainer is going to help her take it to the next level.


“After talking with Carlie on the phone, I learned that her goal is to lose weight, gain muscle and improve her energy level,” says Jodi. “With that in mind, I sat down and created a nutrition and fitness plan specifically to meet her needs.”


Here’s what Jodi had to say when it came to creating a nutrition plan for Carlie:


1) Consistency: “Carlie told me that she has been preparing her meals ahead of time, in order to maintain consistency and stick to her diet. This is an awesome habit, and I love that she is already doing this!”


2) Current Nutrition and suggested changes:  “I asked Carlie to write down what her standard menu looks like, and offered my suggestion for tweaks or changes. My suggestions are in bold.”

- Breakfast–Yogurt with banana

You always want to have protein with a meal.  A lot of yogurt brands alone do not have enough. Instead, try Greek yogurt (low-fat, plain is ideal).  It’s very plain but, you can dress it up by adding fruit and nuts. If you aren’t interested in that, have one egg and two egg whites, prepared however you like. Try and add one cup of veggies too.

- Lunch – Fruit, pita chips w/cheese, turkey sandwich, PB&J sandwich

Your turkey sandwich at lunch is perfect.  Try to include one cup of steamed vegetables along with this. If you are doing pita chips, try to eat them with hummus instead as it is higher in protein and fiber.

Snack  - Carrots or cucumbers

Again, make sure you have either a protein or a fat with your vegetables.  Examples include nuts, avocado, or protein powder/shakes.

Dinner - Lean protein, veggies

Perfect! Remember to drink lots of water as well. You’re doing great!

Once they completed the nutrition plan, Jodi and Carlie discussed her workouts for the week.

“Carlie told me that she’s doing cardio three times per week,” says Jodi. “I told her to start adding in weight training at least two of those three days. For example, she could do Tuesday cardio and weights, Thursday cardio only, Saturday cardio and weights, and then Sunday cardio only once again.

“As for the cardio itself, my recommendation is for Carlie to start switching it up and adding some variety,” continues Jodi. “She’s currently doing a lot of biking – and loving it! However, I told her to think about adding in some elliptical, and don’t be afraid of the treadmill. Both of these will incorporate more core and upper body movement too.”

As an added bonus, Jodi put together a sample weight workout for Carlie, which you can get started with too:

Tuesday and Saturday weights: Do a total body weight routine, with two sets of each exercise, 10-12 reps per set

- Walking lunges
- Squats
- Dumbbell Chest press
- Lat Pull-down Machine
- Seated Shoulder Press
- Seated Row machine
- Dumbbell Bicep Curl
- Tricep Press down machine (using the cable system and a rope or triangle attachment)
- Ab - 30 second plank
- Abs – Basic Crunches
- Ab machine (use what you have in the gym)


We’ll follow along with Carlie’s journey over the next several weeks, and share her nutrition plan and workout routine to help you achieve your fitness goals right alongside!

The Importance of Sleep

By: Snap Fitness

When it comes to reaching your fitness goals, we all know just how important it is to eat right and move your feet. But what about when it’s time to stop and rest? Are you getting the sleep you need?

According to the Mayo Clinic, sleep deprivation is a growing problem with over 28 percent of adults reporting they get fewer than six hours of sleep per night. In addition to sleep being a key component in allowing your body time to rest and recover from workouts, it also helps improve metabolism, reduce the risk of colds and flu, as well as heart disease and diabetes.

While choosing a proper bedtime is obviously key, another factor to think about is whether or not you have the right type of pillow.  “Pillows are the problem.” suggests Michael J. Lindell, Inventor and CEO of My Pillow, Inc who spent years searching for the perfect pillow which ultimately led to the creation of the MyPillow® brand of pillows. “Most pillows are designed to break down over time” says Lindell,  “If you don’t feel like you are getting a good night’s sleep, it’s probably time for a change.”  An old pillow could cause you to wake up with soreness in your neck or back, and numbness in your limbs. The correct pillow for an optimal night’s sleep should be designed to conform to your individual needs, regardless of your sleep position.


No matter what types of sleep issues you may have experienced (or if you haven’t had any at all), sleep is a very important component when it comes to helping you look and feel your best. Don’t waste all of the hard work you put in while you’re awake on a restless night’s sleep! Get the right pillow for you, and sleep your way to better results.

If you are ready to make the pillow switch, Lindell is ready to make your decision easier.  For a limited time, he is willing to give Snap Fitness members 25 percent off their order and free shipping & handling with the code “Snap” when placing an order online. Click here to learn more.  Plus, the pillow comes with a 60-day money back guarantee and a 10-year warranty, which means that you can finally throw away that pillow you’ve been using since high school!

How to Prepare for Your First 5K: Part 3

By: Jodi Sussner, Director of Personal Training


You have successfully completed your first 5k – now what?  Spend some time to enjoy the moment and be proud of what you have accomplished.  When you’re ready, it’s time to set your sights on a new goal.  Maybe you want to increase your pace and completion time of your 5k, or maybe you want to tackle a 10k!


The program below is a “next-step” from the original 5k training plan.


This program focuses on a higher volume of training plus, higher intensity intervals 1x/week.  Your long runs are scheduled weekly and typically on a weekend when you have a little more time available.





Now that you have gained the confidence and know-how to start, don’t stop!  Ride on the momentum of your current success – good luck!  

John P. of Bracebridge, ON: “Snap Fitness helped me take back my life”

By: Snap Fitness

In 2008, John believed he was nearing the end of his life.

He was severely overweight and struggling with a laundry list of medical issues as a result. Diabetes, panic attacks and hallucinations had started to become a regular part of his days, and he truly believed that he wouldn’t be around much longer.

“I was over 300 pounds and couldn’t lose the weight,” he says. “I tried ever diet you can think of, but my weight never changed. Honestly, I was planning my exit. I didn’t want to live like that.”

Fortunately, John’s life wasn’t coming to an end. Instead, he embarked on a new beginning.

“I joined the Snap Fitness in Bracebridge, ON in January 2012. At that point my health was so bad that I could only use the smallest weights, but I kept at it. I also made the choice around that time to give up all processed food. Slowly but surely, the weight began to come off.”

By that summer, John’s health had improved enough for him to begin walking and even doing some light running. As he continued to lose weight, John decided to set a new goal for himself – a goal that would have seemed impossible only a few short months prior.

“In January 2013 I ran a half marathon,” he says proudly. “Nobody, including myself, would have believed that a year before, but I did it and then I did it again this past May.”

Now weighing 215 pounds, John is setting his sights on running a full marathon in 2014, while continuing his exercise and nutrition plan. He thanks Snap Fitness and owner Sandy Long for supporting him on his journey, and says the added encouragement played a huge factor in achieving his goals. While he’s enjoying his new found health and energy, John and Sandy aren’t the only one who has noticed his hard work.

“My wife and I just celebrated our 25 year wedding anniversary last month, and she says that last year it was like she was getting a new husband every six weeks!”  



Don't forget, we're giving YOU the chance to create your own member success story with the help of our very own Jodi the Trainer! Check out the details here!

How to Prepare for Your First 5K: Part 2

By: Jodi Sussner, Director of Personal Training

Many of you enjoyed Part 1 of “How to Prepare for Your First 5k.”  Now that you have a good head start, it’s time to address some common errors that new runners make.   


Getting new shoes for the race

Unless your shoes are showing signs of wear (which I outline below), do not buy new shoes before a race. On average, shoes should be replaced after 250-300 miles or when they show the following signs of wear: is the tread wearing down in the midsole?  How does your body feel? Do you have increased pain or soreness without having an increase in training volume or intensity?  When you stand in your shoes, check the mirror.  Do the midsoles “wrinkle” when you are standing in them?  That is a sign of wear and a breakdown in the cushion and support of the shoe.  They should be replaced.


Experimental Race Day Nutrition

Who doesn’t love all the freebies you get at the race expo?  Goo, gels, granola bars and yummy gummies are tempting for sure.  But, let me warn you, if you haven’t introduced the high sugar or high electrolyte mix to your stomach during training, don’t start now!  You could experience stomach cramping or extra trips to the bathroom during the race.


Inadequate Hydration

During a race, water stops are typically every 1-2 miles.  Plan to train with the same setup as race day by either carrying water (in a hip pack or hands free water system) or planning your route where you know there are drinking fountains.  Your body will learn to stay hydrated while training, plus you will learn to drink on the run.


Not Fueling Up Properly

For most, setting a 5k event goal is shared with losing weight and improving overall fitness.  With that focus in mind, proper nutrition is key.  Depending on the length of your training runs or race, you should always fuel up for energy and performance. Reference the chart below as guideline for when and how to fuel.



As you continue on in preparation for your first 5k race, simply stick with the program.  Use this list as your guide for more enjoyable running, improved pace, and plans to meet or exceed your goal!

Let Us Create Your Member Success Story!

By: Snap Fitness

Each month in Snappenings, we spotlight a Snap Fitness member who has lost weight, gained muscle, and found their best shape ever! Some of our recent favorites include:

- Jeff P., who lost 40 pounds by creating a workout plan and sticking with it daily. He went from overweight and tired to a successful 5K runner!

- George F., our 2013 Lose Weight Challenge winner from Barrie, ON, who dropped over 80 pounds thanks to his new-found motivation along with a customized Truestar nutrition and vitamin program!

This summer, we’re giving YOU the chance to create your own member success story! Our very own Jodi the Trainer will be personally selecting three members who are looking to commit to their fitness goals and get started on the path to better results. She’ll chat with you one-on-one to discuss your goals and challenges, create a workout plan that fits your needs, help you with meal planning, and get you started with a customized nutrition program and complete vitamin profile.

All you need to do is email and tell us your motivation for getting in shape this summer. It can be preparing for your wedding day, training for a fall marathon, or just trying to look and feel better before fall. We’ll select our three members the week of July 15, and set up a time for your first chat with Jodi the Trainer.

Don’t miss your chance to make this summer you best ever! Send us your success story today!

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