Posts for the ‘Fitness’ Category

Layering for Winter Workouts

By Shannon Jones, Take Control Health Coach

Clothing can make all the difference in a fun and safe winter outdoor experience. Whether you’re going for a walk, running, skiing, or snowshoeing, dressing for the cold is essential to maintain your exercise regime throughout the winter.

The best way to dress for cold weather workouts is to incorporate layers. When it comes to layering, remember the acronym BITE: Base, Insulation, Top Layer and Extremities.

Base Layer

Start with a base layer — this is the layer that goes against your skin. You want a material that will “wick” sweat away from the body. Examples are wool, polyester, and polypropylene. Cotton is one of the worst fabrics to use for a base layer because it will stay wet and you’ll get cold. Staying dry is essential to comfort and warmth during winter fitness.

Insulation Layer

Next is the insulation layer. This is the layer that keeps out cold and keeps in warmth. Fleece is the perfect insulation layer. You’ll want to base your insulation layer choice on the type of activity you are doing. If you are walking, you’ll want a warm insulation layer, if you’re skiing you’ll want something lighter. A lightweight down jacket can work well for many activities.

Top Layer

Follow the insulation layer with your top layer. The top layer is to provide protection from moisture like rain or snow. Jackets, pullovers, and shells are considered top layers. Water resistant or water proof but breathable fabric is an excellent choice. These fabrics can be expensive, but they are worth it in the long run. Fabrics such as polyester blends help trap heat and prevent evaporation. These fabrics keep you warm and dry.


Finally, don’t forget your extremities. Exercising pulls blood away from your extremities and toward your core, so it is important to properly cover your head, hands and feet. Wear hats and mittens or gloves to help with this. Technical fabrics will be your friend in this category as well. Look for performance gear that will keep you warm but breathe so you don’t sweat. For your feet, look for socks made from a wool blend are thin but can keep toes dry and toasty even in the coldest weather. Make sure your boots are not too tight – they need a little air to retain warmth.

Winter is here, so find a winter activity you enjoy, and start living a healthier life. But don’t forget to dress for it!


Why to Connect with a Personal Trainer

By Laura Del Guerra, RD, CDE, Take Control Health Coach

A few years ago, I found myself struggling to follow through on my intentions to eat right and exercise regularly. I was promising myself “You’ll start next week.” Then next week would come and I would continue down the same road. I weighed more than I wanted to, was out of shape, and had signed up for a week long kayaking school that I was truly unprepared for.

Realizing changing on my own would not be possible, I called the gym where I had an unused membership, and inquired about hiring a personal trainer. I will be the first to admit, this was FAR outside my comfort zone. First, I was intimidated by the idea of going to a gym, and second, I was afraid to somewhat publicly reveal my physical vulnerabilities. However, I faced my fears and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

I started working with a personal trainer twice a week, and over the course of the year, the change was fairly dramatic. The first thing I noticed is how much better I moved through space. I was more flexible, my balance improved, sitting and standing were easy. I went from minimal exercise, to doing something every day and looking forward to it! I put a ton of miles on my mountain bike, hiking shoes, paddle board, and kayak.

Not only did I achieve many personal goals over time, I gained a new perspective on going to a gym and working with a trainer. I sat down with my trainer, Cole, to interview him about the benefits and misconceptions about working with a trainer.

When is a good time to hire a personal trainer?

There are several ‘good’ times:

  • When the goals you have set aren’t being attained
  • If you are using the gym and have no idea what to do for an exercise routine
  • If you just joined the gym but are not going
  • You are already fit but want to know what to do to get to the next level of fitness

What should I expect at my first meeting with a trainer?

This is a time to get to meet and begin to form a relationship. You will be asked to fill out a health history. This will provide your trainer with information on injuries, smoking history, any chronic health conditions and other important medical information. Be prepared to discuss your goals. What do you want out of this relationship? What has kept you from achieving your physical activity goals in the past? You will also do several assessments including flexibility, aerobic testing, core strength, and mobility testing.

As a trainer how do you decide which exercises will be right?

I look at what my client’s goal is. For example, Laura’s goal was to be a competent whitewater kayaker, so our focus was increasing core strength, shoulder mobility, and back strength. In addition, we focused on overall mobility, as this is something that decreases with age.

What do you tell people who say: “I don’t like gyms because everyone is so judgmental.”

Many people are not comfortable in gyms. I work to take these people into a place that is out of the way and less populated than the main part of the gym. Over time we slowly move out to more populated areas. During these times, I train them on how to safely use different pieces of equipment. I also work to ensure I do not push someone past their level of fitness.

How do you respond when people ask you if they can do the same exercises at home without a personal trainer?

This is a very individualized question and depends the person’s individual preference and needs. The answer is a question of how much do I want to rely on my trainer. Overall, the biggest thing is that people continue to exercise when they are not with their personal trainer. For some clients a training session once a week is adequate and they have a plan for exercise on other days of the week. For clients who travel extensively, for example, we build their routine around hotel gyms. And finally, some people rely heavily on their trainers meeting with them several times a week and do not want to think about exercise outside the gym.

Are all Personal Trainers the same? How do I choose one?

Trainers are as individual as the people they train. Every trainer has a different style. Because you’ll be spending time regularly with this individual, it is important that first and foremost you like your trainer. If not, you won’t be motivated to go to the gym and meeting your goals will be much harder. If you’re compatible, the next thing to look at is the trainer’s background. Ask the gym what they require of the trainers they hire. What education do they have? Do they hold a college degree? If so, in what field? What type of certifications do they hold? Not all certifications are equal. Look for trainers who are certified and hold credentials from ACSM, NSCA, and NASM. All of these things will help you pick the trainer best suited for you.

What are the biggest misconceptions about Personal Trainers?

Personal trainers are notoriously misinterpreted, especially regarding education and training. However, once you start looking into their background, you’ll typically find they know more than you think they would. Many don’t realize trainers are certified nationally or that continuing education is a requirement.

So if you’ve been thinking about working with a trainer, I highly encourage you to do so. It has been a life-changing experience for me, to finally achieve some physical goals that eluded me for years. Not only that, but I’ve acquired a new perspective about going to a gym, and I’m no longer afraid! Feel free to contact me or your health coach directly if you’d like more information about how a personal trainer could work for you.


10 Tips to Build a Better Body on a Budget

By Richel Stropky and Kat Van Fossen, Take Control Health Coaches

Trouble with gym membership costs? Don’t let a lean bank account be an excuse to avoid exercise. When your budget is slim, and the cost of gym memberships, trainers, and exercise equipment is big, consider these 10 tips to build a better body on a budget:

  1. Create a workout space at home. Schedule your workouts on your calendar. Lay out your exercise clothes and shoes the night before. Workout to a video or try a fitness app. Download free workouts such as interval training or HIIT workouts. Choose a playlist to listen to, and time the music to fit the length of your workout.
  2. Shape up while watching TV. Pick a different activity for each commercial and do it until the show comes back on such as jogging in place, jumping jacks, jump rope, push-ups, planks, etc.
  3. Substitute weights with items in the pantry. Use canned foods or gallon jugs of water with resistance training. Try paper plates to replace gliders for exercises that tone lower body or use with a push up as you slide arms in and out.
  4. Hit the outdoors to walk or run. Add push-ups, tricep dips, planks and crunches along the way.
  5. Workout with low cost equipment that doesn’t break the bank. Get the best benefits for the buck with dumbbells, adjustable weight bench, resistance bands, instructional DVDs, step bench, stability ball, or kettlebells.
  6. Schools, and campus workouts. Use a running track at a nearby school, walk or run on the track or the stairs in the bleachers. It’s a great place to work out in the cool fall weather. Call your local school to see if they have times available.
  7. Hotel Pools. Some accommodations open up their pool for free or a small fee to people in the community.
  8. Start a Group. Start your own walking group in your neighborhood. This is a great way to get to know your neighbors. Start a library of workout DVDs with your neighbors. You can share and even take turns working out at different homes.
  9. Community centers, churches. Ask around your community to see if anyone is offering classes such as , yoga, dance classes, or a cross training classes. These type of class can be very rewarding and inexpensive.
  10. Learn a new skill. There are many books, DVDs, or web sites that can instruct and teach new skills like learning how to do yoga. Don’t be afraid to barter, if you have a talent ask one of your fitness friends to exchange time and talents. You may be able to exchange music lessons, cooking tips, computer tech help for some fitness education or personal training.

Recommended websites:

Fitness Blender

10 Kick Butt Workouts You Can Do in 30 Minutes

Low Impact Cardio Workout for Beginners

Resistance Band Exercises

Printable Exercises from Spark People



Getting Ready for the Hunt

By Shannon Jones and Laura Del Guerra, Take Control Health Coaches


Hunting season is right around the corner, and preparing yourself and your equipment for hunting season increases your chance of success. Dietary indiscretions and inactivity can catch up with you quickly out in the field. Like any athlete, hunters usually have their own pre-season rituals, but here are a few tips to consider before heading out this season:

Get in Shape

  • Start getting physically active and increase activity gradually with walking, biking, swimming or hiking. Hiking with a light pack is the best exercise, as it mimics the hunting experience. Walk in public hunting areas, state parks, and state and national forests. Go off-trail, walk up and down steep banks, jump creeks, and push your way through brush.
  • Stretching after workouts can be helpful with improving your recovery and helping to prevent injuries.
  • If you are stuck inside, run or walk briskly up and down stairs, lift weights, and get the best workout that you can. You can use the local gym, or invest in a pair of dumbbells, stretch band or fitness ball. Find an online workout routine that combines both lower and upper body exercises. com has 10 Great Workout Routines for Western Hunting  and has Your 12 Week Plan to Get in Shape for Elk Hunting Season

Fuel Up

  • There is no better way to start the day then with a protein and fiber. Look for healthy simple ways to include these into your breakfast. If you need ideas, has a great article called Healthy Breakfast Ideas and Recipes
  • Hydration is especially important, and even when you do not feel thirsty; consume at least eight 8 oz. glasses of water. Consider a Camelback or other hydration device to meet your needs in the field.

Prepare Equipment:

  • Make sure your hunting equipment is in good condition. Get your gun sighted-in, and practice with it. If you are a bow hunter, this should be a year around activity to keep the muscles used strong and limber.
  • Take your binoculars and spotting scopes outside and make sure they are still clear and fog-free. If your eyes have changed over the past year, or you have a different vision prescription, it can drastically change the way things appear through a scope or through sights. Sharpen and oil knives and other metal tools that you will be using when deer hunting.
  • Check to make certain that your hunting clothes and boots still fit. Place your hunting boots into a tub of water to make sure they are still waterproof.
  • If you rely on an ATV, check or change the oil, check tire pressure, brakes, and make other recommended changes and adjustments.
  • Finally, make sure your hunting license is up to date, and all stamps are in proper order. Double check your hunting property for permissions, etc. You should have scouted before season and have these things lined up well ahead of time, but if not get it taken care of as soon as possible.


Stress Management Exercise

By Linda Hogg, RD, LN, and Julie Walker, Take Control Staff

Stress is one of the biggest roadblocks that exists when it comes to creating a healthy lifestyle. It often keeps us from getting to what really matters in life, our health and wellness. We can try to exercise and eat right, but when we get overwhelmed with stress, we get distracted and tend to abandon any plans to put our energy into what truly matters: day-to-day action steps toward health and living well.

Stress roadblocks needs to be addressed head on. Otherwise, stress becomes common-place, never budging out of the way. Stress builds slowly, and since it creeps up on us, we may not see it building until it’s overwhelming. Before your stress builds so high that you’re paralyzed, use the following exercise to stay ahead of it.

Early in the morning, or by mid-day, make a quick list of today’s stressors. Divide a piece of paper into two columns: the first column is for things you have control over. The second column is for things you do not have control over. As you brainstorm today’s tasks, keep the process simple and quick. Examples of things you have control over include doing a chore, paying a bill, making an appointment – stressors where you can identify clear action steps, or that have simple solutions.

In the right-hand column, write down the things that you don’t have control over – only time could solve them, or possibly a decision or action by another person. The decision or action needed to make these go away would not be in your control. The uncontrollable stressors may consume your thoughts. They may even keep you up at night, when in fact, they need to be put to rest so you can focus on what’s controllable. If the list of uncontrollable stressors is overwhelming, take a moment to tear off that side of your paper, tear it up, and throw it away. Let it go for the day. Turn your focus to what can be wrapped up.

Ultimately, you need time to focus on what is controllable, and what actions steps you can take to chip away at those stressors. The practice of writing down your stressors makes them, well, less stressful. Often the list is shorter or more manageable than you imagine. If the list is larger than you imagined, take a moment to prioritize it. If you’ve over-committed your time for the day or the week, look for things you can reschedule or cancel.

When you take a few minutes to be pro-active with your stressors, you free yourself emotionally to stay on track with your healthy lifestyle habits. Eating healthy and exercising are two of the best ways to reduce stress. To get there, give this exercise a try. Take a moment each morning to inventory your stressors, and remove the roadblocks which build up if left unaddressed. From there, you can move on with what plans you have to make you more healthy!


Reap the Rewards

By Kelly Sedgwick, Take Control Health Coach

Ever find yourself saying, “I know it wasn’t good for me, but I ate it because I wanted to reward myself”? Sometimes we get so focused on achieving our daily goals, we forget to stop and celebrate in a way that actually supports the goals and healthy lifestyle we’re designing for ourselves.

Rewards are something we give ourselves to celebrate achievements, but also ways we maintain our motivation to continue our pursuit and practice of living healthy. When you reach a milestone, it’s important to reward yourself and celebrate your achievement, especially since milestones are typically set a few months out and require consistent effort to achieve. Just knowing that there’s a tangible reward awaiting can help you reach your goal!

The same as it is with setting goals, setting rewards should be unique to you and something you are willing to work for to receive. Be specific about the reward and make it something you really want.

Consider these suggestions for your next reward:

  • Buy the new workout jacket, running shoes, workout pants, or heart rate monitor that you’ve been eyeing
  • Get a massage
  • Buy a personal training session or a specialty exercise class that you’ve been wanting to attend
  • Plan a vacation or weekend getaway
  • Schedule a new adventure, like zip-lining or white-water rafting
  • Go to the movies
  • Splurge on the good seats to a concert performance
  • Get a manicure and/or pedicure
  • But a great book, album, or movie that you’ve wanted
  • Schedule a day off to relax and enjoy a good book or watch your favorite movie or TV show
  • Purchase dumbbells, a medicine ball, or resistance bands
  • Buy new tool(s) or supplies for your favorite hobby

Remember, every reward should be something you’re willing to work for; and should support the goals you achieve. Be creative – set a reward that is unique, exciting and motivating to you!

Diary of a Take Control Appointment

By Julie Walker, Take Control Staff Member


If you’re new to Take Control, you may be wondering what you’re in for. The unknown can be intimidating, but we don’t want you to worry! Our program is designed to work with each person individually. This means that we’re taking each participant’s unique needs and goals into consideration.

Your initial appointment will be centered around identifying your needs and goals, and how you’re individually motivated. We’ll also try to identify obstacles and roadblocks to your goals. Once those things are established, you may get scheduled to meet with an exercise specialist and/or a dietitian. We’ve outlined the basic questions that come up with these types of appointments. They’re not scary or intimidating! Just another step on your journey to achieve your goals.

Exercise Specialist Health Coaching Appointment

Take Control lead health coach Shannon Jones explains the basics behind a coaching session with an exercise specialist. She says “our main goal is to build relationships with our clients so we can support them and their goals.” Shannon put together the following list to help you understand what to expect in an appointment with an exercise specialist:

  1. We will ask you about your current physical activity and exercise.
  1. We will not judge you, or have preconceived expectations.
  1. We will listen to you to find out how you feel about exercise, and to what level you already exercise, if any.
  1. We will ask you what you like to do.
  1. We will ask you what resources you have available, such as a gym membership, home equipment, a Fitbit, etc.
  1. We will ask you were you want to start, and help you take reasonable steps toward your goals.
  1. We will encourage you.
  1. We will help you make a plan that works for you, and that you can maintain.
  1. We will strategize and offer tools to help you make long-lasting, sustainable changes.
  1. We will evaluate your goals each month to make sure they are right for you.
  1. We will help you change your life, one step at a time.


Dietitian Health Coaching Appointment

 Take Control health coach Katie Delaney put together a similar list for coaching sessions with our dietitians. When people hear the word dietitian, it can sometimes invoke fear of scolding, judgment, or impossible standards. As Katie describes below, there is definitely nothing to fear! We are here to help, and to work within the parameters of what works for you:

  1. We will ask you about what you eat.
  1. We want to know honestly what your typical food day looks like.
  1. We will not judge you or have preconceived expectations.
  1. Knowing what you typically eat allows us to suggest possibly similar alternatives or improvements.
  1. You are free to take or leave these suggestions depending on your personal goals and preferences.
  1. We may talk calories, but generally our focus is quality.
  1. Keeping a food log can be a great tool to become aware of what you are eating.
  1. However, we are realistic and understand that a food log does not fit with everyone’s life.
  1. It’s important to ask yourself how your body feels, and learn to listen to the signals it gives you to identify what you really need.
  1. We will not suggest restrictive diets, cutting out food groups, or making impossible weight loss goals.
  1. We will give you facts and answer your questions.
  1. We have knowledge and resources to find accurate answers to questions to help determine fact from fad.


If you have any questions about any aspect of the Take Control program, don’t hesitate to contact us. Your coach or our main office are here to guide you and ensure you succeed!

Summer Workout Chart

By Richel Stropky, Take Control Health Coach

Summer officially begins June 20th! You may not be inclined to head to the gym this month, but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We’ve put together a summer workout chart. Pick your category, then pick your activity — whether you’re completing chores, or spending time with friends and family, there is something for everyone.

Wash your car

Mow the lawn

Play a game of chase or tug-of-war with the dog

Paint or stain the fence

Wash the dog

Wash the house windows

Sweep the sidewalks, patio or deck

Clean out the garage & gutters

Volunteer to walk dogs from humane society each week

Ride your bike to the local farmers market

Hike to a place to pick berries or just for a picnic

Fly a kite

Toss a Frisbee

Climb a tree

Play at a water park

Rock Climb

Power skip

Road race

Ride a roller coaster

Visit the State Fair

Ride a horse

Build a sand castle or walk on a beach

Play Sand volleyball


Water Ski

Paddle board

Tread water or on your back

Rope Swing

Fly fish

Play fetch with the dog

Run through the sprinklers with the kids

Have a water balloon fight

Relay race

Sack races

Play a game with the kids: tag, flag football or Red Rover

Join a kickball league

Have a family fitness scavenger hunt

Jump rope

Power skip contest

Raise money for a local charity with a car wash

Play badminton or croquet

Watch the sunset

Play relaxing music as you cook dinner

Enjoy an outdoor concert

Eat a meal outside

Read a book in a lawn chair

Buy a hammock


What did we miss? Add your suggestions in the comments!

Safe Walking Tips

By Kelly Sedgwick, Take Control Health Coach

With the change in seasons, more people are getting outside to walk. We thought this would be a great time to remind you about best practices and safety tips for walking outside.

  • Buddy up It’s always safer to walk in groups. Walking with others is more enjoyable, and gives you a commitment, which helps you follow through with your activity goals.
  • Walk on the sidewalk – Walk on the sidewalk when possible, and walk FACING traffic so you can watch on-coming cars and cyclists.
  • Be conscious of drivers – With the many ways that drivers can be distracted, don’t assume that they know when pedestrians have the right of way. Be especially cautious around driveways, alleys, and other places where drivers are likely watching for other cars, not walkers.
  • Dress to be seen – Wear bright colored clothes, and use gear with reflective material. You’ll be prepared if it starts to get dark, and the bright colors and reflective gear helps drivers see you. Reflective tape can be attached to clothing, shoes, or leashes to make you more obvious.
  • Identify yourself – Carry your name, address, and a friend’s or relative’s phone number on the inside sole of your shoe, tied to a shoe lace, or inside your shirt, in case of an emergency where you’re unable to speak for yourself. Consider wearing a medical alert bracelet or necklace if you have diabetes, an allergy to bee stings, or other conditions that could result in an emergency.
  • Don’t wear jewelry – Don’t wear jewelry or expensive items that might draw someone’s attention.
  • Use your hearing Wearing headphones can prevent you from hearing on-coming traffic, or someone coming up behind you. Consider listening with only one ear phone, so you have the other ear available to hear your surroundings.
  • Check the weather – Take steps to prepare for walking outside during the winter and summer months. Bring plenty of water with you in the heat, bring a rain jacket if there’s a chance of rain, and be aware of weather predictions in the area you’re walking.
  • Stay in touch – Carry a cell phone, or enough change to make an emergency phone call. Notify your spouse or a friend of where you’ll be, and when you anticipate returning, especially if you’re walking in an area uncommon for you.
  • Carry bear spray – If you walk in the woods or rural areas where bears or other wildlife lives, carry bear spray. They make small, hand-held sizes that don’t weigh much.

Enjoy the fresh air and all the beauty our state has to offer – your mind and body will thank you for getting out!

Tips for Joining a Gym

By Richel Stropky, Take Control Health Coach

Thinking about joining a gym? Here are a few tips to get started, and to help you feel more comfortable in your new workout surroundings.

Start by doing a little research. Check out the various health clubs in your area and what they offer. Check on what credentials they require for their instructors and personal trainers. Find out if they have staff on duty in the workout areas to assist you if needed. Make sure they have facilities or programs that interest you, such as a swimming pool, indoor track, yoga classes, Zumba, etc. Make sure the contract length is a commitment that works for you.

Try it out before joining — most clubs will offer a few days to a week for a free trial. Make sure it is a good fit for you.

Find an exercise buddy — workout with a family member, friend or co-worker. A workout buddy helps you feel more comfortable in a new environment, and helps keep you accountable to go.

If possible, workout during non-peak times. The most popular times are between 5-7pm. When new to a club, working out on the weekends is a good starting place too.

Try classes or programs that are led by qualified instructors such as cycling, Zumba, rock climbing, or water aerobics. Look for beginner classes. Instructors can help monitor your form and instruct you to be safe. It is also a great place to meet people with similar interests.

Set a schedule. Put reminders on your phone. Stick to your plan like you would other important appointments.

Hire a personal trainer. Trainers can help design a safe and effective program specific to your workout goals. They are also there to motivate you every step of the way.

Have proper nutrition – don’t workout on an empty stomach. If it has been a while since you have eaten, try a pre-workout snack 30-90 minutes prior to workout. A post-workout snack may be needed too, depending on how hard you workout. Be careful with calories, and consult a nutritionist or personal trainer for snack ideas.

Wear proper clothing — try to wear clothing that “wicks.” It’s made from athletic fabric that pulls moisture away from your body, preventing chaffing. Cotton clothing will leave you feeling uncomfortable, and may make you want to quit your workouts early.

Above all, start your program in small steps and build from there. Ask for help if you need it, and find things that you enjoy so you will keep coming back. Consistency is key to seeing the results you want!