Snap Fitness Health & Fitness Blog

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Sugar Alternatives In Baking

By: Snap Fitness

It’s the holiday season, which means it’s the season of baking. And with baking, comes sugar. The two go hand-in-hand and there is really no way around it. Sugar helps make baked goods taste delicious, and gives all of your tasty treats a beautiful golden brown look and moist texture. However, just because baking requires sugar, that doesn’t mean you have to use plain granulated sugar. Whether you’re looking to cut calories, eliminate processed ingredients or simply change up the flavor, these sugar alternatives in baking will help your holidays shine even brighter.

Honey- Using honey for baking will make your baked goods have a distinct flavor and give them a golden brown look. Try to choose raw honey when baking for the most natural ingredients.


100% Pure Maple Syrup-  Great for cookies and muffins, pure maple syrup is very sweet, and you don’t need a lot of it to sweeten your baked goods. Make sure your syrup is 100% pure, or else you are basically using corn syrup to sweeten your baked goods.


Brown Rice Syrup- Made from fermented brown rice, this syrup will make your product have a crisper texture and a unique flavor, especially if you’re replacing a sweetener with a distinct flavor, such as maple syrup.


Agave Nectar- Similar to honey, but with a sweeter taste and thinner consistency. When using agave nectar, use the same amount you would if you were using regular sugar, but add an additional 1/4 cup flour to the mix.


Artificial Sweeteners- A great option for those who are diabetic, these artificial sweeteners tend to have a distinct aftertaste when used in baking. Keep in mind, most sugar substitutes are processed and should be used in moderation. Many sugar substitutes are sweeter than sugar, so make sure to modify the measurements.


Happy Holidays and Happy Baking!

From Excuses to Results: Bianca's Success Story

By: Snap Fitness

From Excuses to Results: How Bianca G. in Georgia Took Control of her Weight Loss Journey


Bianca’s story is one that many of us can identify with. A mother of three, she knew that she needed to lose weight but just didn’t have the dedication to get started.

“At my heaviest, I was 165 pounds,” she says. “I joined Snap Fitness back in January, but I wasn’t giving it my all. I always had an excuse for why I couldn’t commit to working out, whether it was no time, didn’t have a sitter, or I was too exhausted from the day.”

Bianca saw moderate results thanks to her efforts, but quickly plateaued. That’s when she decided to take control.

“I changed my eating habits, which was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do,” she shares. “No more soda, sweets or fast food. Instead I switched to greens, fruit, veggies and protein shakes, and really focused on portion size and self-control. I still struggled a little bit, but I knew I wanted to see results so I pushed through.”

In addition to her new and improved diet, Bianca enlisted the services of Kunda Kimaro, a personal trainer at the Snap Fitness Stockbridge location. Together, they’ve helped her to make huge strides.

“I’m now in the gym six days a week, three of which are with Kunda, and eating healthier,” she says proudly. “People have started to notice the changes I’ve made, and it feels great. Being healthy is being happy, and I’m excited to keep moving forward with my new lifestyle.”

5 Tips to Halt Junk Food Cravings

By: Snap Fitness

We’ve all been there. Whether it’s the middle of a stressful workday, you’re bored late at night, or just don’t have the time to make a healthy choice, junk food cravings have snuck up on all of us. While the urge might be tempting, there are five easy ways to help keep them at bay:


1. Stay Hydrated

Studies have shown that when people crave unhealthy foods, it could be a sign of dehydration, so opt for a glass of water when you feel a craving coming.


2. Don’t tell yourself you can’t eat it

The moment you tell yourself you can’t have something you immediately want it. Has this happened to you? Instead, tell yourself you won’t have it because ______ (insert your reasoning, such as: I can find a better option, I am working towards a goal, I don’t really want it, I have been doing so well staying on track, I don’t want to feel bad about it afterwards, etc. )


3. Divert your attention

Focus on something not related to food, such as finishing an email, turning to another task or stretching


4. Make sure you kitchen is stocked 

But stocked with healthy foods. Keep junk food out of the house to avoid temptations.


If you do end up giving into your craving...


5. Don't beat yourself up

the last thing you should do is beat yourself up about it.  What you should do is forget about it and move on. If you get down on yourself, you might find it easier to give in to temptation once again.

To avoid this vicious cycle, do the following:

1. Have enough to satisfy your craving, and get rid of the rest.

2. Tell yourself that it was a one-time thing and that you are not going to give in again, and move on. 


Good luck!

My Survivor Story: Dawn Koceja

By: Snap Fitness

This month, Snap Fitness is proud to sponsor the American Heart Association’s Milwaukee Hearth Walk, taking place September 29. To celebrate, this month we’re providing you with heart health-themed fitness tips, recipes, and a very special survivor story from the American Heart Association.


Dawn Koceja of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin has a strong family history of heart disease, so when she decided to train for a marathon at the age of 39, she saw her doctor first.  She was given a clean bill of health, but a hip injury which required surgery derailed her marathon plans.  After recovering from the surgery, she couldn’t get back to her previous level of fitness.  She was experiencing chest pains and shortness of breath.  Several cardiologists were unable to pinpoint what was going on, but one suggested she had a rare condition: myocardial bridging. 


Her condition was confirmed at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.  Basically, Dawn’s left descending artery dips into the heart muscle, instead of lying on top of it.  Every time her heart beat, the muscle would cut off blood flow through the artery.  Dawn underwent open-heart surgery at Mayo, where doctors “un-roofed” or removed half of her top heart muscle.  She was the first patient to have this surgery at Mayo. 


After months of rehabbing, she was able to pick up her workouts once again.  She enjoys cross training, running, biking and weightlifting.  Originally she was on 15 pills a day, but thanks to healthy living, she is now off all medications. 


Dawn has several messages she likes to share:  You’re never too young to develop heart disease.  Be an advocate for yourself and your health; find a doctor you trust who will listen to you.  Know your family history of heart disease.  Eating right, exercising and not smoking truly can make all the difference in the world when it comes to heart health.

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!

How to Flatten Your Abs

By: Jodi Sussner, Director of Personal Training

How do I flatten my stomach?  How do I get the flab off of my lower belly?  How do I get six-pack abs?  I am probably asked these questions, or some form of them on a daily basis. Everyone wants a flat, toned and tightened midsection, but often the answer isn’t what they want to hear.  There isn’t one specific exercise that will do it; there isn’t one type of food that will do it; and there isn’t a magic pill.  That might be hard to hear but, any personal trainer or fitness professional that is truthful will tell you the same.   That’s the simple truth - tough love from me to you.


Now here is the great news: you CAN flatten your abs and you CAN have the midsection that you have always wanted.   In addition to sound nutrition, a thank you to mom and dad (genetics), and exercise, it’s going to take 3 things:


  1. Consistency – Doing what you need to do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.  Never giving up and knowing that it will take time to make change.  Depending on where you are when you start on your goal, improving your abs can take weeks, months and sometimes years.
  2. Patience – Depending on where you are starting from, it’s going to take time.  Since there’s no magic pill as noted above, this is a long process that requires your patience.  The kind of patience that supports your consistent efforts.
  3. Persistence - There is a big difference between persistence and patience.  The patient person will allow the time it takes, the persistent person pushes forward, never looks back, and doesn’t accept defeat.  You will need both.


Now that list might look like the making of a “Successories” card but, again, it’s tough love and truth. Let’s apply our success tips to nutrition and exercise:


Abdominal Exercises:

• Consistently perform ab exercises at a minimum of 3 times/week, every week.

• Core work is key – focus on working all angles and muscles within the core to develop a balanced and stable torso - choose exercises such as:

• Plank

• Mountain Climbers

• Stability ball exercises

• Focus on the Transverse Abdominus (TVA), to stay in and flat while performing abdominal exercises.  That is, a 4 inch band of muscle that wraps all the way around your torso.  Engaging the TVA throughout core exercises, plus basic crunches and bicycles will ensure that the abdominals function properly; the spine is protected, and avoids the dreaded “pushed out effect” from improper abdominal work.



I mention eating clean quite a bit in my blogs and Facebook communication.  But, eating clean is about consistency (80-90% of the time), eating whole foods that are low in sugar, high in fiber and non-processed...  Many people think they can work off the calories with a more intense workout, but you get out what you put in.  Put in healthy ingredients such as lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, and plenty of water and get out a lean physique and flat abs.


Cardiovascular Exercise:

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), isn’t just a passing fad.  Research has shown that interval-based cardio can help burn fat, while preserving and even increasing muscle.   Slow or lower intensity cardio can actually slow metabolism by burning too much muscle over time.  If you are training for a half or full marathon, it is important that your training program includes bouts of HIIT along with strength training as a means of preserving muscle.


To have the flat abs you have always wanted, be consistent with your nutrition and exercise – stay patient with yourself in the process, and be persistent in your endeavor.  The hard work will pay off if you are true to the basics of nutrition and exercise noted here.  Work with what you’ve got and lean on your Snap Fitness club to help get you there!



Announcing the 2013 Lose Weight Challenge winners!

By: Snap Fitness

For six weeks this spring, Snap Fitness members from all across the U.S. and Canada were dropping pounds, building muscle, and competing to win big cash and prizes as part of the $25,000 Lose Weight Challenge!

Nearly 15,000 members participated in the challenge, losing roughly 30,000 pounds in the process! But in the end, one “loser” stood apart from the pack.

George F. from Barrie, ON dropped 81.1 pounds, resulting in a loss of 32.3 percent body fat! 

“Competing in the Snap Fitness Lose Weight Challenge was one of the most difficult, and rewarding things I've done,” said George, who made the choice to join the Challenge after facing a number of obstacles.

“For the last decade or so I've been struggling with weight, this past year being the worst. In early 2012 my father needed major heart surgery opening my eyes to the changes I need to make, but with a serious leg injury early spring all my hard work and training had been halted. Not only that, being in a cast for several months and many more of rehab, I hit an all time high for weight; and low for health. I needed a change, but was having trouble finding the right motivation. That was until I found out about the Lose Weight Challenge.”

Over the next six weeks, George began to find his rhythm. His new routine would start with a morning cardio session, followed by some weights after work, and finally a second cardio session in the evening. In addition, he took advantage of the Truestar nutrition and vitamin program in order to get started on a plan to help him get better results.

Thanks to his hard work, George is not only healthier and happier, but also receives $5,000 cash, $1,000 in Truestar vitamins and supplements, plus a trip to a sunny destination (see the complete list of winners below)!

While he says the prizes were motivation, the real reward comes from the long-term benefits of losing the weight. “I could never thank Snap Fitness and Truestar enough for giving me my life back!”

Lose Weight Challenge Top 10 Winners (*winners based on total body fat percentage lost):

1) George F. – Barrie, ON: 81.1 lbs., 32.3% loss
2) Michael J. – Cranberry Township, PA: 53.4 lbs., 28.08% loss
3) Aleksandar J. – Hubbard, OH: 58.8 lbs., 25.48% loss
4) Tyler H. – Mount Joy, PA: 38.7 lbs., 22.74% loss
5) Alex W. – Toronto High Park, ON: 74 lbs., 22.43% loss
6) Trevor G. – New Richmond, WI: 47 lbs., 22.38% loss
7) Steve C. – Grand Forks, ND: 49.8 lbs., 22.29% loss
8) Matthew P. – New Bern, NC: 54.6 lbs., 22.14% loss
9) Michael B. – Grandville, MI: 62.6 lbs., 21.93% loss
10) Matt H. – Courtice, ON: 53.4 lbs., 21.85% loss

Congratulations to all of our winners, and thank you to everyone who participated in the Lose Weight Challenge!

The New Health Foods – or Diet Saboteurs in Disguise

By: Jodi Sussner, Director of Personal Training

Many food products on the market today have good-intentioned dieters losing BIG…but, not necessarily the weight.  Products are being touted as Healthy only in how they are marketed – the name on the box can mislead even a savvy shopper.  Here are some examples of “health” foods to avoid. 


Super Protein Drinks-
Many of us are looking for ways to keep our protein intake high – especially if you are trying to balance blood sugar,  or repair and build muscle post workout.  Convenience protein drinks have made this convenient, but it comes with a price.  These products contain soy protein isolate which is a heavily processed form of soy.  Dr Mercola recently published an article stating that soy protein isolates can suppress thyroid function, cause digestive problems such as diarrhea, and promote an increase in hormonal estrogen. 

Keep it simple, stick with protein from real, unprocessed foods: animal meats, beans, lentils, eggs and dairy.


Trendy Cereal-

Stroll down the cereal aisle of your favorite grocery store and you will notice some new items competing for your attention.  Since Greek yogurt has enjoyed a surge in popularity due to its high quality protein content, the cereal companies don’t want to miss out on the buzz and the bills (that is, dollar bills). Unfortunately, this means that they simply toss a pinch of heavily processed yogurt powder into the mix of sugar, wheat, oats and rice.  This yogurt powder is created by heat treating, killing the active yogurt cultures and is only a fraction of the “greek yogurt” product.  The rest is made up of non-fat dry milk solids…not yogurt.

Maybe enjoy some actual Greek yogurt (that is milk strained in a cheese cloth or muslin, retaining its creamy texture and high protein content) – then, add a little of your favorite cereal for crunch – or better yet, throw in some nuts, seeds, or ground cacao seeds to boost the nutrition without the processed junk.


Veggie Pasta-

Ok, I’ll admit I was a little tempted by this one…vegetables infused into my pasta, my kids will love it!  What I’ve learned is that you just need to eat and enjoy the actual vegetables – can’t blame a mom for trying!  Here’s the scoop:  Veggie pastas promote vegetables in disguise.  Their small amount of vegetables per serving turns out to be a ¼ cup of vegetable solids from dried carrot, tomato, and spinach.  Each heavily cooked serving leaves you with 4 percent of a day’s vitamin A….ummm, that’s one sixtieth of a carrot or three baby spinach leaves. 

Save your money, and eat real vegetables!


-Jodi Sussner


Final week of the 2013 Lose Weight Challenge!

By: Chad Ruf, Director of Personal Training

Hello everyone and congratulations, you have made it to the final week of the lose weight challenge. I’m sure you have all been through some ups and downs both physically and mentally so I would like to offer you some tips to give you that final push: 

Tip #1 - Limit your simple sugars. Try to stay away from candy or anything that is high in sugar. Sugar is a carbohydrate and excess carbohydrates tend to make you retain extra water weight. Limit your candy, fruit juice, regular soda, or anything that is full of empty sugar calories.

Tip #2 - Avoid heavy carbohydrates. Stay away from heavy morning cereals, pancakes, waffles, pasta, white bread, and potatoes. Think more green vegetables like broccoli, green beans, asparagus, and spinach. Try to focus on keeping your carbohydrates lower this week and adding higher protein foods.  If you do this you may see some additional water eliminated from your body.

Tip #3 - Don’t miss a workout day. You have made it this far in the challenge. Don’t allow yourself to miss a single workout at this crucial time. You may also want to consider adding in a second session each day.  Try doing 30 minutes of extra cardio either at night or early in the morning right when you wake up.  This will be tough but may get you to the finish line and in the prizes.

Tip #4 - Drink more water. Even though you might think that if you drink too much water, you’ll retain water, the opposite is true. When you drink more water, your body flushes excess fluid from your cells and maintains an ideal water balance in the cells. The result: Less bloat where you don’t want it.  However, when you are a day out from your weigh-in, you should cut your water intake so you can dehydrate prior to your weigh-in the next day. 

I appreciate everyone’s hard work in this lose weight challenge.  Try a tip or two to help you get over the finish line.  Keep your head up, turn on some motivation music this week during your workout, and finish strong!

How to break through a weight-loss plateau

By: Chad Ruf, Director of Personal Training

Hello everyone and welcome to week four of the Lose Weight Challenge.  It is at this point in the challenge that you may be experiencing a plateau.  You’ve probably lost the most weight in week one and have been slowing down ever since then.  You are probably losing anywhere from 1 to 2 pounds per week or you have stopped losing weight all together.  Now what?  What do you do to break the barrier and get through that weight loss wall? Here are some tips and tricks to get you through your barrier and to the end of the Lose Weight Challenge:

1) Do something different - When you hit a plateau your body has become used to the same workout or same routine and is not responding in the same way.  It has hit a “maintenance” level.  Most likely the amount of calories you are burning are equal to the amount of calories you are taking in.  You have to make a change in this equation.  You can either increase the amount of calories you burn through cardiovascular exercise and weight training or you can consume fewer calories through your diet.  Based on the law of thermodynamics if you are taking in less calories than you are burning you should lose weight.   Therefore, it should be a simple fix to make an adjustment on either end of the spectrum.  Eat less or work-out more!

2) Try a detox - If you didn’t begin your weight loss challenge with a detox, try doing a detox now.  It isn’t too late to clean your body out of all of the toxins and sodium that are making you hold on to excess water or fat.  Try TrueDETOX from Truestar Health.  This is a 10 day detox in which you take one packet three times a day prior to meals.  This should help “clean-out” your system and give you a 2 – 5 pound boost in your weight loss program.  Just remember that this isn’t a long term solution but only a plateau breaker if in fact you didn’t start your program with a detox.  Most people do a detox twice a year for weight loss or health reasons.  

3) Water - Drink water to lose excess water.   There are a lot of people who drink less water to dehydrate themselves to lose weight.  What really happens is your body holds on to excess water to survive instead of eliminating it.  Make sure you are drinking at least eight 8 oz. glasses of water per day and even more if you are exercising. The water you drink will actually flush excess water out of your system and will also eliminate toxins in your body. Try having water right next to you throughout the day so it is the main thing you grab when you get thirsty.  Drink a lot of water to lose excess water.

Try following the above tips this week and best of luck as you enter the final three weeks of the challenge!

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