Immune system superfoods

Stay healthy: Build a strong immune system

By Community, Fitness, Nutrition No Comments

A strong immune system can be at least as powerful as hand-washing. That’s why a nutritious diet and consistent exercise – wherever you find yourself these days – are great ways to improve your immune system, prevent infection and feel strong.

Exposure doesn’t have to mean infection.

In fact, for many people, exposure to the novel coronavirus and/or other viruses may not lead to infection or severe illness. That’s why it’s so important to remember that staying well is much more than just avoiding illness. It’s about strengthening what’s already inside you. 

Here’s an immunity-boosting cheat sheet from Forma Gym:

Regular, moderate exercise from home or elsewhere: Increase your circulation a few times a week with exercise to help your body shed toxins. Moderation is key: If you enjoy high-intensity training sessions, do these only once or twice a week to avoid taxing the immune system. If you’re working from home, don’t work all the time; you’ll go crazy. Go outside! Get your heart pumping, whether it’s sunny, windy, rainy or snowy. 

Go with your gut: Immunity starts in the gut. The best superfoods to build the gut’s infection-fighting powers are tasty and easy to find, including:

Probiotics from fermented foods such as:

      • Yogurt
      • Kombucha 
      • Kimchi 
      • Sauerkraut 
      • Tempeh 
      • Kefir

Anti-inflammatory superfoods, including:

      • Turmeric
      • Pineapple
      • Apple cider vinegar

Naturally occurring vitamin C, found in:

      • Leafy, dark green vegetables: Spinach, broccoli, kale and Brussel sprouts. Go fresh (uncooked) for higher nutrient content (Tip: Dice these into small pieces and top with olive oil and vinegar).
      • Fruit: Cantaloupe, pineapple, tomato, strawberries, blueberries, cranberries
      • Citrus: Grapefruit, lime, lemon, orange, etc, which also have anti-inflammatory benefits.

Hydration: A 6-8 oz glass of water every hour is ideal for keeping your metabolism moving. Add 8 oz for every 30 minutes of exercise.

Sleep & Rest: At least seven hours per 24-hour period, plus breaks for personal time daily.

Stress reduction: The stress hormone cortisol is harmful over the long-term. Take time to lower your cortisol naturally. Stop for some fresh air or several times a day, by taking short outdoor walks. Enjoy a peaceful break over herbal tea. Meditation and yoga also work magic.

Extras, extras: Try therapeutic approaches, such as:

Whole body cryotherapy: Controlled exposure to extreme cold has been shown to increase blood circulation, boost cellular function, and decrease cortisol levels.

Massage therapy: Massage is a known detoxifier and there are several different styles of massage address everything from tight spots and tension to deep tissue therapy.

Dry sauna: Studies show that sauna use stimulates the immune system, especially in athletes who train regularly, as compared with people who do not exercise regularly. Training and sauna, therefore, make an excellent one-two combo for your immune system.

Check in with our team at Forma Gym in Walnut Creek or San Jose for a consultation on what immunity-building activities might be best for you.

Realistic goals, youth athlete, elite athlete, David Miller

Ditch the resolutions – set Goals!

By Export, Fitness, Nutrition No Comments

What’s easier, setting goals for a few things to accomplish this month, or resolving that you’re going to do one or two amazing things all year? 

I’m asking rhetorically. A career working with elite athletes has taught me that thinking of a goal as a single, major accomplishment you hope to achieve isn’t nearly as effective as thinking of each goal as a series of dozens, or even hundreds, of micro goals.

You can still indulge in the fun of daydreaming about the end result. But let’s first break down the steps for how to set goals that are so realistic that your daydream becomes reality.

Purpose and intent

Over the years, I’ve listened to a lot of people’s goals. Consistently, the best ones are those that not only make life better for the goal-setter, but that improve the lives of people around them.

Because of that, I encourage people to form goals that extend beyond themselves. 

It’s not too different of a mindset than the “hero’s journey,” where the hero faces risks and difficulties in order to help the village back home. Sure, your fitness or health journeys may not save entire villages, but you certainly can frame your goals the same way.

Consider the greater purpose of any goal. If you want to lose weight or increase your endurance, who will benefit besides yourself? There’s always someone. 

If you’re happier because you’re more fit, then the people closest to you will be happier. If you’re healthier because you’re making better decisions about food, then people around you might join you and adapt their eating habits. Positivity is contagious.

Map out monthly “micro” goals.

Once you’ve thought of your end goal and who will benefit from it, evaluate where you are today. Sometimes, we overreach, which distorts our perspective of how far we have to go.

For example, if I have a weight-loss goal but I don’t even eat fresh vegetables, then my first micro goal isn’t to lose weight; it’s to replace some of my junk food with fresh produce, even once a day.

If my goal is to run a marathon, but I don’t yet jog more than two miles twice a month, then my first micro goal might be to jog two miles twice a week.

Taking a realistic look at where you are now and where you want to be helps you to realistically see the steps in between.

“How can I mess this up?” Be honest.

You know yourself better than anyone else does. Just as important as figuring out how to make something work is acknowledging what’s going to get in your way.

Remember your vices from the outset. You know what they are. They’re the things that get in the way of the good things you planned to do. One person’s might be Netflix binges and chocolate; another’s might be social media; someone else’s might be work-related. 

Whatever your vices are, by being aware of them, you’ll not only notice when they distract you (and they will, I promise!), but you’ll learn new habits to help you avoid them. 

Hold yourself accountable – and share.

I tend to work in four-week blocks of micro goals. I try to figure out how long it will take me to reach each micro goal and I make corrections along the way. By mapping out what went right, what went wrong and what got in the way, I can better plan out the next four-week block. 

For some people, sharing goals with someone they trust helps keep them accountable. There are plenty of members and staff at Forma Gym who would be happy to cheer you on.

Finally, always write down and track your goals, using whatever device, app or other method you’re most likely to follow. Take note of your successes, your challenges, the corrections, adaptations and surprises you encounter. Being able to look back on your progress (and your holdups) is just as important as being able to envision your future success. 

Reward yourself.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to acknowledge your own achievements. Give yourself credit every time you hit a goal, micro or major. 

Keeping track of the produce you substituted for candy or the miles you jogged all month is worth celebrating. Take credit for your hard work in preparation for your next miniature milestone.  

Make a plan, stay optimistic, celebrate your successes and enjoy every win.