The best number to track to get fit

We have been coaxed into believing the scale is the highest measure of health and fitness.  But the scale fluctuates a ton depending on how much water you retain, what time of day you weigh in, how much fat vs. muscle you have on your body, your bone density and more.  It’s a pretty crappy way to evaluate whether you are actually getting more fit or not.

While I was vacationing in Mexico this past weekend, I jumped on a treadmill for my usual jaunt.  I started pushing the speed button and it was like I was floating.  Up and up the miles per hour went until I was gracefully moving at a 11.5 mile per hour pace.

Folks, that’s a 5:13 per mile pace, and the fastest I have ever run just one mile is 5:14. 

I kept this pace up for just under 40 minutes.  I felt like a BEAST.

Obviously, this treadmill was lying to me.

There’s comfort in knowing the numbers, right?  We want to be assured that what we are doing is working and that we have something concrete to prove that our invested time and energy has produced results.

There are many numbers we actually have control over.  Things like…

  • How many real push-ups or full pull-ups can you do
  • In what time can you run a mile around the track
  • How long can you hold a perfect plank
  • How many glasses of alcohol consumed in a week

The possibilities are endless.  But the number that matters the most is the number that resides in your heart. 

I am not saying to ignore the hard and fast, tangible proof, what I am saying is that we need to dig deeper.

The best number to track to get fit and improve your health is to use The Joy Scale

Yes, I know, I know, fitness is all about getting more physically strong, racking up a better VO2Max, holding that long yoga pose to improve your flexibility.  But the REAL end goal of doing these things is that they actually provide us with the capacity to live life more fully engaged.  Which is to say, that you are able to find deep joy in your day-to-day activities and being because you are getting stronger and connecting with your physical strengths.  Getting stronger helps us to sustain our energy and to act upon our passions so that deep joy bubbles up in us.

Are you workouts both bringing you joy and allowing you to open yourself up to more joy in your life overall? 

If not, here are some suggestions that can up your joy through movement:

  • Consistently workout whether you feel like it or not.
  • Listen to inspiring music while exercising.
  • Get curious about how much your body can actually do.  Push yourself to the outer boundaries to let it show you what you are capable of.
  • Surround yourself with people who encourage and uplift you during your movement.

Movement can reduce depression, it can clarify your mind, it can improve your immune system, and boost your confidence.

Of course it’s great if you can bust out push-ups, rock a deep squat, and run a 5 minute mile- but using movement to increase your joy is a wonderful motivator and method to make your whole life better.

And regardless of what that treadmill told me, I felt absolutely amazing running on my vacation.  Joy welled up in me in ways I don’t get from any other thing.

The number on the screen was irrelevant. 

Where do you find your joy in movement?


Moving can boost your memory. Hallelujah!

Brain Fog.  Overwhelm.  Clouding of Consciousness. Pregnant brain. Mommy brain.  It doesn't matter what you call it, clouded thinking seems to effect us all.  And on a daily basis. I can attest that post-twins and during this pregnancy (can you believe I, Nicole, am due in just 8 short weeks!?) I often feel like it's a miracle I can remember anything at all.  I am guessing you can relate. Because our world is throwing new information, and a lot of it, at us constantly.  There is work pressure, parenting pressure, illnesses that creep up all around us, taking care of those around us, making time for ourselves (phew), and so much more.  It's no wonder our thoughts are often jumbled.  Distraction abounds, so it's no wonder we crave focus, clarity, and peace of mind.  Wouldn't it be nice to always remember where we put our keys or the phone when we need it!?

This time of year we are inundated with the idea that it's "time to lose weight".  Quite frankly, that feels like a lot of pressure, and honestly- we don't have that much control over weight loss because weight loss is only an outcome...not a behavior.  So what would it mean to focus on getting more movement because of how it makes us feel, think, and engage on a daily basis rather than some number on a scale?

Your workout is worth so much more than simply giving you an extra calorie burn in your body.

Exercise is good for your brain! Science shows that complicated activities like playing tennis or taking a dance class, or even trying a new activity provide the biggest brain boost by increasing the level of growth factors in the brain, helping you make new connections and brain cells. "You're challenging your brain even more when you have to think about coordination," explains Ratey, Harvard Med School and author of “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain”.  He adds, "Like muscles, you have to stress your brain cells to get them to grow". Putting stress on your brain by stimulating your thinking while you workout has the added benefit of increasing blood flow to the brain too.

A recent study published in the Archives of Neurology suggests that a simple daily walk or jog could lower the risk of Alzheimer's (disease which causes severe memory loss over time)—or blunt its impact once it has begun.

We don’t fully know how or why activity improves memory and brain function, but here are a couple of fun facts about what we do know:

  • Brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is released with activity to protect the brain from emotional disorders and repairs damage from stress and depression.  (Repair stress?  I am IN)
  • In 2000, Dutch researchers found that inactive men who were genetically prone to Alzheimer's were four times more likely to develop the disease than those who carried the trait but exercised regularly. (Exercise can reduce risk for dementia and Alsheimer's- yay!)

And here is the best part...

“Even 10 minutes of activity can change your brain” - John Ratay


What will you do today to boost your brain by engaging your body?!  

Try something new, or up the challenge in your next workout by adding some balance exercises or doing a few more complicated moves.  Not only will your fun factor go up, but your memory will get moving up too!



Some of our favorite Corrective Exercises!

We always start Fitness Fire group classes or a training session with some dynamic stretching and then a couple corrective exercises. This is meant to prep your body for use and warm up the areas you're about to workout. It's great to pin point weaker areas of your body and do specific corrective work for those issues. Here's a break down of some of our favorites!

Wall slides: These are great for those of you who sit at a desk all day long and may be trapped in that forward-leaning position. Wall slides work your thoracic spine and really help to open up your chest and shoulders which helps greatly with good posture.

Stand with your back against a wall with your feet about 6 inches away from the wall and a little less than shoulder width apart. Tuck your tailbone forward and make sure your back is nice and flat against the wall, you may need to adjust where your feet are for this to happen. Tighten your tummy and bring your hands up to the wall with your elbows bent at 90 degrees. Now squeeze and press your shoulder blades against the wall (make sure your back is still touching!) and begin to slide your arms from rib height straight up then back down again. Do 10-20 reps with good form.

Bridges: If you have a hard time engaging your glutes, this is a great one for you. 

Lay on the ground with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Make sure your back is flat. Push through your heels and squeeze your glutes simultaneously to bring your butt off the ground. You want to make sure you're keeping your hips level and squeezing your glutes very tight. Pause at the top and repeat. Do 15-20 reps. To increase difficulty you can do a single leg bridge by bringing one foot off the ground and extending the leg towards the sky.

Clam shells: This exercise targets your glutes, inner thighs and hips, which are key for a healthy back and stable knees.  

Lie on your side with your hips and knees bent 45 degrees, legs and ankles stacked. Keeping your feet touching each other and head resting on the ground, raise your upper knee as high as you can while keeping your hips stack. Do 15-20 reps on each side. For added difficulty, put a small resistance band right above the top of your knees.

T-W-Y-I: These target the muscles of your upper back that stabilize your shoulder blades (trapezius and rhomboids). They also strengthens your rotator cuff and help promote good posture.

Start by laying on your stomach. Flex your toes into the ground and make sure they stay touching the ground the whole time. For Ts: Extend your arms out to your side, palms down and gently squeeze your shoulder blades together lifting your chest off the ground. Pause at the top and come back down. For Ws: Bend your arms 90 degrees at the elbow or make a "touchdown" shape. For Ys: Put your arms slightly above you in a Y shape, thumbs pointing up to the ceiling. For Is which are the hardest: Arms come straight above you, palms down. Channel superman or superwoman for this one! If you feel any pain in your low back leave out the Is until you become stronger. Do 8-12 reps of each. You can make this more challenging by holding light weights.

Quadruped opposite arm/leg lifts: his move strengthens your glutes and core, as well as strengthening the stabilizer muscles around your spine which can help immensely with alleviating low back pain.

Get down on your hands and knees with your palms flat on the floor and shoulder-width apart. Tighten your tummy, and raise your right arm and left leg until they're in line with your body. Briefly pause and return to the starting position. Repeat with your left arm and right leg. Continue to alternate sides until you've completed 10-15 reps on each side.

Give these a try... which are hardest for you? This means you should be doing the hardest ones a couple times a week!

It's important to strengthen and engage your weaker areas. If you're diligent, you'll most likely notice improvement quickly.

June's Member of the Month: Jack Unrue

Jack Unrue is a pleasure to be around. Anyone who has worked out beside him will agree he is all smiles and great attitude. He always shows up on time and ready to give his best; earning his title of June Member of the Month!

Jack is originally from upstate NY but moved to Colorado 20 years ago with his awesome wife and fellow Restoration Fitness member, Danielle. The two of them are incredibly active, humble about it, and an enjoyment to train. They live in Lafayette with their cat, Ripley. Jack is a software engineer and avid runner. He has been a RF member since  mid February when it became obvious to him that what he had been doing up until that point wasn't cutting it. He wasn't getting the results he was hoping for and was looking for some accountability and coaching. He also felt that his back pain was consistently getting  in the way. Danielle did a google search for Boulder personal trainers and they found us, and we are so glad!

Restoration Fitness: What positive results have you had since joining our community in February?

Jack: I'm stronger! My body feels different; I've lost weight and 11 1/4 total inches off my body circumference. My attitude towards health is a lot better; I want to come here! I absolutely love and thrive off having a coach and a group of people in classes, the collective energy is awesome.  I aslo think about nutrition much more than before I was a member. And, I've also brought my 3 mile running time down from 29:40 to 25:53.

RF: We are so proud of you, Jack!!!!


RF: What keeps you motivated?

Jack: I'm so able. I'm doing what I need to with my workouts rather than wasting time. I also really enjoy the group atmosphere here. I haven't been in this kind of shape in a long time, being able to sign up for the Bolder Boulder with confidence is pretty awesome. I know I can do it!


RF: What's the biggest challange you've overcome?

Jack: Food and nutrition which I'm still working on. Also, I never worked out when I was younger - I started around 30. So, I find that being in control and in tune with my body can be more difficult. So, I'm loving the feeling of empowerment I'm getting with my workouts lately.


RF: What does health mean to you?

Jack: Health means not procrastinating. Being healthy enough to get things done that HAVE to be done. Feeling well enough to tackle things.

RF: Great insight!


RF: What's your favorite healthy recipe?

Jack: Danielle and I make ground beef, green peppers, onions, lots of ground red pepper, and canned tomatoes. Very yummy!


RF: What's your favorite song to workout to?

Jack: It used to be loud, angry music... Right now it's Massive Attack's song Angel. Check out the video, it's cool!


RF: What's your favorite workout?

Jack: Fitness Fire classes and running.


We are so glad to have Jack as a RF member and appreciate him greatly. His continued hard work and dedication is most definitely only going to help him reach goal after goal. Here's to all our amazing, dedicated members!


May's Member of the Month: Nancy Sievers

Nancy doing an assisted forward lunge 


Nancy Sievers became a Restoration Fitness member two years ago and now works out with us alongside her husband, Bob, three times a week. Nancy was raised in a Chicago suburb but has lived in Boulder since 1975. Her and Bob have been married for 51 years and have a very funny daughter and sweet son-in-law who live here in Boulder, a son in Seattle and four wonderful grandchildren. She and Bob also have a cute 3-year-old bichon frise that is a well-known flirt. Nancy is a retired special education teacher who now fills her time with travel, gardening, reading, and spending time with her family and friends. She is a very sweet person who lights up the room she is in. Meet May’s Member of the Month: Nancy Sievers!


RF: What positive results have you had from working with RF?

Nancy: I’m in good shape for a person my age; I’m 73. RF prepared me for my knee replacement surgery then helped rehabilitate me afterwards. I think my other knee does not need surgery because of all we do here. My balance has also improved greatly and RF does a great job of modifying exercises within my ability each workout.


RF: What keeps you motivated:

Nancy: The variety RF provides for Bob and I. I like coming here and I’m not a person that likes exercising. I don’t do it on my own. You and Nicole do a great job engaging me!


RF: What is the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?

Nancy: My knee replacement surgery. I can now kneel and garden! I’d like to try and play tennis this summer. Bob also loves tennis.

RF: We’re going to hold you to that!


RF: What does health mean to you?

Nancy: Health is terribly important at my age. It means I can travel. It means I can do all I want to do. Health means maintaining good body function.


RF: What’s your favorite healthy food?

Nancy: Spinach omelet with a little sprinkle of cheddar cheese.


RF: What’s your favorite type of workout music?

Nancy: Definitely something peppy!


RF: What is your favorite type of workout?

Nancy: Does eating count?

RF: Hahahaha No!

Nancy: Walking with my dog and my friends. And, I really enjoy some of the ballet type movements we do in here.


Thank you so much Nancy! We greatly appreciate you and are so glad we are helping you to feel good!



February's Member of the Month: Bob McCool

Bob became a member of Restoration Fitness in October of 2011. Since then he has been committed to improving his health and has had some awesome results. We are also very proud and impressed by Bob’s learned perfection of squats! We sat down with him recently and asked him some questions. Meet Bob!


(RF) Tell us a little background info about yourself:

(Bob) Originally, I’m from Columbus, OH and was raised in PA. I’m the youngest of 8.  I’ve been living in Colorado since 1994 with my wife Daryl and our 7-year-old son, Jackson. I work as a partner of a computer services company.


(RF) What results have you seen since joining RF in October?

(Bob) To start, I’ve lost 20 pounds! My energy level is ten times higher than it’s ever been which helps me keep up with Jackson. I’ve noticed continuous improvement of previous injuries. I can also snowboard much better than I ever have been able to in the past. Another positive result is that with the help of RF, I’ve been eating so much healthier.


(RF) What keeps you motivated?

(Bob) The accountability of RF has been great. I love coming here! It’s also been a great stress relief and managing stress is important to me. I want to feel good! And, above all else, having the energy to keep up with Jackson. Being healthy for him is very motivating to me.


(RF) What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?

(Bob) Food. I used to stress eat a lot. Having workouts as my new stress relief is great!


(RF) What’s your favorite healthy food?

(Bob) Grilled trout with a spicy rub

(RF) Yum!!


(RF) What’s your favorite song or artist to workout to?

(Bob) The Police


(RF) What’s your favorite type of workout?

(Bob) Fitness Fire classes! They’re a really great, hard workout and they’re fun!