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.

Happy healthy habits in 2020, Forma Gym, Tracy Beckham

Here’s to happy, healthy habits in 2020

By Export, Fitness, Nutrition No Comments

I love the positivity of January, when people are open-minded to the idea of happy, healthy habits that can transform their lives. Whether a person wants to lose fat, build muscle or maintain the levels of fitness and health they’ve already achieved, the new year is an ideal time for a new mindset and a new or improved plan. 

Put food first – and keep it positive.

It might be hard to believe, but 80% of improving health, fitness and strength revolves around food and nutrition choices. The 80% nutrition + 20% fitness rule states the importance of nutrition in the equation. What you put in your body, as well as when, how much and how often, creates the foundation for what you can get out of your body. You can’t out-exercise a bad diet!

Your attitude about physical fitness, food and bodyweight has everything to do with how easily you’ll be able to make small, positive changes. So, why not set yourself up for success by making some vocabulary changes?

Don’t diet. “Eat!”

What sounds more fun, eating or dieting? The word “diet” gives food a negative connotation and implies deprivation just for the sake of weight loss. But an improved nutrition plan is the opposite of deprivation; it’s a gift to yourself. In some cases, it can include more calories than your current eating habits do!

To create your plan, the first thing I want to know during our nutrition consultation is what your current nutrition plan looks like. Don’t worry; it’s not uncommon for someone’s current nutrition plan to seem completely unstructured, and that’s okay.

By looking at the way someone already eats on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis, I can discover patterns and make little suggestions that you can live with – and enjoy!

Take small steps toward realistic goals.

In the early stages, I don’t want anyone to think of a nutrition plan as permanent or as a full-year outline; it’s going to change over time, as it should. All I want anyone to do is view it in little, measurable chunks. What minor changes can they make tomorrow or the next day? Or what items can be added or removed over the next four weeks?  

I create a nutrition plan that we can look at in daily, weekly, and four-week blocks.  And I always ask people to think about what motivates them. That way, we can incorporate a reward for each goal they achieve.

Pretty soon, one small, positive change happens at a time. Maybe it’s replacing orange juice with an actual orange; replacing a packaged fruit-and-nut bar with a hearty handful of unsalted nuts and unsweetened, dried fruit; or replacing packed and processed foods with whole foods, natural from the ground.

Your new plan will fit your life.

As we create a nutrition plan, I look at what’s going on in every aspect of a person’s life. Are they happy; stressed; single; married; divorced; traveling a lot? Do they have kids and, if so, how old are they? Are they in a new job or are they about to retire? What are their hobbies? How often do they eat out and order in? What kinds of things get in the way of their progress? 

Knowing all about someone’s life helps me put together a plan for their lifestyle that includes goals they can actually achieve. It also helps me make realistic suggestions. My job is to take the obstacles out of your day and life to help you achieve your fitness goals.

Don’t work out. “Train!”

We already know that 80% of planning and habit-forming efforts should go toward the nutrition aspects. But simultaneous, achievable fitness training goals feed the success of the overall plan.

Once again, it’s important to stay positive. Think of physical fitness, movement and strength not as work but as training that nudges you towards your goals. That’s because nutrition and fitness training feed on each other.

It’s not a myth. It’s true: When you start to exercise you eat better. And when you eat better you have more energy and motivation for training. Pretty soon, you start seeing and feeling results and you discover that your happy, healthy habits are transforming your body, your mind and your life.

Come see the experienced team at Forma Gym in Walnut Creek or in San Jose. We’d love to hear all about your goals and help you make positive changes in 2020. 

Healthy Food, happy healthy habits, Forma Gym, Tracy BeckhamLearn how to build the best diet for you at Forma Gym’s  Build your Perfect Diet seminars on Saturday, February 22nd in Walnut Creek and on Wednesday, February 26th in San Jose. They’re free and open to members, guests and the community. Use the links above to reserve your spot.

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.


Celebrate the small stuff

By Export, Fitness, Mind Body, Nutrition No Comments

You have permission to be proud of yourself.

I am fortunate to have worked in the fitness industry my entire career, and to have witnessed some amazing accomplishments, from small but important to massive and life-changing. I have seen members achieve things they could have never imagined when they first joined Forma; it’s one of the great joys of working in this industry. 

Along the way, I’ve learned quite a bit.

Among the most important things I’ve learned is that the key to  staying on track is a positive mindset with willingness to celebrate all the “mini” accomplishments of a fitness and health journey. 

Give yourself a pat on the back after a great workout or after just making it to the gym. Likewise, congratulate yourself for choosing an apple instead of potato chips. 

By focusing on what you’re doing well, you’ll create positive momentum in moving from one step to the next.

During my 30 years in the health and wellness industry, I’ve learned that people who focus more on what they have actually achieved go farther – and  feel better about themselves – than those who scan the horizon, focusing for too long on what they have yet to accomplish. 

Forma Gym Fitness Director David Miller will get into more detail on goal-setting in an upcoming blog. We know that goal-setting looks very different from person-to-person; we want to help each individual develop a formula that works with their personality, habits, motivations and known distractions.

In the meantime, it’s time to celebrate what each of us has accomplished already.

As 2019 winds to a close, let’s look back on the forward motion we each made this year, in every aspect of life.

Maybe you made some positive changes to your diet this year, such as reducing sugar, adding vegetables, or drinking more water. Give yourself a pat on the back. Tell someone how it feels.

You might have started a regular walking schedule this year. Even 2-3 times per week for 20 minutes is beneficial and worth celebrating. Put your walking shoes back on and give yourself an extra mile as reward.

Did you try a new Mind/Body class or a Pilates Reformer class this year? Maybe you’d never thought yoga, barre, or even water exercise would be your thing, but you discovered that not only can you do it, but that you enjoyed it. Tell the person you met in class how you feel about it. They might celebrate you, too.

Or maybe you lost a few pounds or got a little stronger in 2019? Wow! Allow yourself to focus on how that accomplishment feels.

Even if you want or need to lose another 10 pounds, you’re moving in the right direction. Reflect on the mindset that allowed you to get where you are today and congratulate yourself.

Did you average two additional hours’ sleep per week? Excellent. Share your accomplishments and ask other people to tell you about theirs. Then listen, wholeheartedly, and support people when they share their accomplishments, especially the little ones.

The “small stuff” is the big stuff.

While you’re celebrating, be sure to remember to be grateful for the ability to do everything you can do. There are few actions or mindsets that are more liberating or joy-filling than those involving gratitude.

Remember to thank yourself! Then thank anyone who motivated you, knowingly or not, to achieve some of the steps towards what you hope to achieve.  

Having trouble noticing your accomplishments or figuring out which are worth celebrating? Come talk to one of us at the gym. I guarantee that any member of our team can help you discover an accomplishment you might not even realize you made. 

Go on. Be BOLD. Stop by the front desk or ask any one of us around the gym how to get started celebrating yourself and looking forward to what’s next for you. 

Meal Prep

Meal Prep Tips: Better Nutrition Made Easy

By Nutrition No Comments

With so many things on our plate, it’s a huge challenge to serve nutritious meals without a little work on your part. Mealtimes roll around very quickly, and if you haven’t made any efforts to plan ahead, you may end up making some unhealthy choices. A little planning can help take the stress out of it, and allow you to enjoy healthy, delicious meals without all the guesswork.


Here are some of the benefits of meal prepping:
1. Choose more nutritious foods
Grabbing what’s available when you’re hungry often means you reach for less nutritious foods. Putting in a little effort to plan out meals and doing some prep work in advance means you can choose a variety of nutritious foods that you will enjoy throughout the week.

2. Less stressful for you
Life is busy! In between work, commuting, sports practices and school pick-ups, your day is filled with activities. Mealtimes come quick and you can get hangry fast. Prepping healthy nutrition-based foods in advance can help avoid this so you can just grab and go.

3. Save money
If you set aside a little time to plan and prep healthy nutrition, you will save money on your food costs. Prepping means fewer convenience store foods, takeout orders, and trips through the drive-through. Planning in advance can make a big impact on your wallet.


Meal Prep Tips for Healthy Nutrition
So where do you begin with meal prepping? If this is a newer concept or something you want to get back into doing after taking a break, we have some tips to make it a little easier!

Tip #1 – Start collecting recipes and create a template
Think about what kinds of food you’d like to see incorporated into meals. If you’re a parent, letting kids participate or choosing foods will get them excited about the process and encourage healthy eating habits. Start a monthly calendar to record your meal ideas and shopping lists.

Tip #2 – Assign specific foods to days of the week
Make your life easy by doing things like “Meatless Monday” and “Taco Tuesday.” You can vary these recipes each week but keep a theme to make planning and prep much easier.

Tip #3 – Set aside a day and time to plan
Choose one day of the week where you will decide the meals for the week, make a shopping list, and buy all of your food. Set this time aside and make arrangements so you won’t have any distractions or interruptions.

Tip #4 – Multitask and batch cook
Prep large batches of food in advance that you can use in different recipes throughout the week. For example, you can cook shredded chicken in a crockpot to later use for tacos, salads, or soup recipes. While your chicken cooks, you can also wash and chop fruits and vegetables and hard boil eggs that your family can enjoy throughout the week.

Tip #5 – Double Up
Double the recipe of the meal you are making so you can use for multiple meals. Things like soups, enchiladas, and sauces can easily be stored in the freezer and served another day. Your future self will thank you!


Meal Prep Ideas
Get started with healthy nutrition and meal prep with these simple recipes:

Ginger Soy Glazed Chicken

Basil Avocado Shrimp Salad Wraps & Sweet Potato Chips

Baked Lime Chicken Bowls

Overnight Oats

Garlic Parmesan Kale Pasta

Bolognese with Zucchini and Artichokes

Breakfast burritos

Beef and Broccoli

Greek Couscous Salad

Honey Sriracha Glazed Meatballs

Once you start meal prepping, you’ll create new routines and habits that work best for you. Make sure you set aside some time each week and have a plan in place. Meal prepping will make mealtimes less stressful and more enjoyable so you have more time to do the things you love.


Farmers Market

Shop Your Local Farmers’ Markets for Heart-Healthy Foods

By Nutrition No Comments

Buying nutritious foods is just one way you can nurture your bod, and you can find fresh, delicious healthy foods right in your own backyard. Shopping at your local farmers’ market is a great way to find in-season heart-healthy foods that are good for your health, your tastebuds, and your wallet.

1. Healthier for you
The American Heart Association recommends eating at least 4.5 cups a day of fruit and vegetables as part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. It’s easy to load up on fresh, nutritious food at the farmer’s market, because foods that are freshly picked are at their peak nutritional value. Buying in-season produce means you get the best nutrients.

2. Delicious taste
There is nothing quite like the taste of a fresh strawberry or an ear of corn, fresh from the farmer’s market. In-season produce that is freshly picked is the best-tasting produce you can find. The food offered at a farmer’s market is always in-season and often just picked that morning.

3. Try new foods
Local farmers’ markets usually have unique foods that aren’t offered at your local grocery store. Often, the local vendors will let you try a sample of their food to see if you like it. Adding variety into your diet is a great way to eat healthy and not get bored of the same foods.

4. More affordable
Some foods offered at farmers’ markets are more affordable than foods in the supermarket. Buying food that is in season is always the route to go for price and taste, and certain foods like herbs, artichokes, tomatoes, and in-season fruits, are often a fraction of the cost when you pick them up at a farmers’ market.

5. Support local economy and farmers
Shopping at farmers’ markets help support your local economy and local farmers. Often the same farmers who are selling you peaches are the ones who picked them from the tree.


Our Favorite Local Farmers’ Markets
San Jose Farmers’ Markets
1. Campbell Farmers’ Market

A year-round farmers’ market where you will find anything that is in season! This affordable farmers’ market has an extensive selection of fresh fruits and vegetables. It happens every Sunday from 9 am to 1 pm, rain or shine. Check the website for more details.

2. Sunnyvale Farmers’ Market

Open every Saturday morning, the Sunnyvale Farmers’ Market has an array of vendors and plenty of options to sample as you stroll. They offer a variety of heart-healthy produce options as well as a selection of handmade pasta, breads, and pasteurized eggs. With plenty of parking in a great location, this is a fun market to explore.

3. Downtown San Jose Farmers’ Market

Vendors from all over Northern California bring their produce and goodies to the San Pedro Market corridor every Friday morning from May to November. This is a smaller market that is packed with goodies and has live music.


Walnut Creek Farmers’ Markets
1. Concord Farmers’ Market

Stroll through the Concord Farmers’ Market on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The market is situated in a park setting, making it family-friendly and a great location. Vendors include tons of fresh produce options, food vendors, face painting, and even live music.

2. Grand Lake Farmers’ Market

Stroll through East Bay on Saturday mornings and enjoy this medium-sized farmers’ market with a plethora of vendors and a diverse crowd. Sample fresh produce, enjoy live music, and take some delicious produce home with you.

3. Walnut Creek Farmers’ Market

Plenty of organic produce and quality products offered at the Walnut Creek Farmers’ Market which runs year-round, every Sunday. You’ll find a blend of fresh produce alongside artisan meats and cheeses. Local vendors rotate weekly so there’s always something new to try!

Grab some friends and visit one of these local farmers’ markets today!

Happy Hour Hacks

6 Hacks for a Healthier Happy Hour

By Nutrition No Comments

Happy Hour Hacks – How to Have Fun + Stay in Shape

Whether you need to blow off steam after work or you’re attending a corporate mixer after hours, happy hours are often an extension of your professional career. Grabbing a drink with a co-worker or meeting others in your industry for drinks can be good for your personal and professional lives.

But it isn’t always good for your fitness. Avoiding these events is nearly impossible—so we’ve created some hacks so you don’t have to undo all the hard work you’ve been putting in at the gym. Here’s how you can enjoy yourself after work, without sabotaging your gains.

Hack #1 – Beware of beer

Some types of beer can have 300 or more calories per pint. Those calories can add up quickly, especially if you drink more than one.

A good rule to remember for beer is that the higher the alcohol content, the higher the calories. If you know you’ll just drink one, you might want to splurge for your favorite. But if a longer night means you’re going to keep them coming, you might want to opt for light beer instead.

Happy Hour Tips

Hack #2 – Choose cocktails wisely

The majority of the calories in cocktails comes from the mixers. Drinks are quickly loaded with sugar when juice or pre-made mixes are added. Add flavor to liquor by adding in seltzer, club soda, and lemon or lime wedges.

Some drinks that won’t set you back too far include:

 – Vodka seltzer

 – Old fashioned

 – Gin and tonic

 – Scotch on the rocks with a splash of water

 – Tequila, club soda and lime

Hack #3 – Snack Smart

Choose snacks with protein like meatballs, shrimp cocktail and hummus. These foods will fuel you and help fill you up. Avoid filler foods like chips and fried cheese. These snacks will leave you feeling heavy, but not satiated.

Hack #4 – Try to eat beforehand

Going to a party or restaurant on an empty stomach is a surefire way to sabotage your efforts at the gym. Add in a few drinks that night and you’re bound to overeat on foods full of fat and carbs. Enjoy a healthy and filling lunch, and maybe even an afternoon snack so you aren’t showing up to your event famished.  

Hack #5 – Hydrate

Drinking water throughout the night will help hydrate you and make you feel fuller. It will also slow you down and prevent you from ordering too many drinks, while also keeping your caloric intake lower for the night.

Hack #6 – Be Mindful of the Snacks

It’s really easy to nosh all night and not even realize how much you ate at the end. Instead of grabbing bites here and there, make a plate and pay attention to what you’re eating. You’ll be more aware of what you consume and more satisfied in the end as well.

Keep your gains in the gym and not on your bar tab. Hit your next happy hour with these tips and you can enjoy a night out with friends or co-workers while staying in shape!

Our Top Tips for Healthy Eating as a Family

By Nutrition No Comments

Being super mom is stressful! We know you are doing it all—keeping the house clean, playing with your littles, making time for your marriage, and attempting to feed all those mouths with healthful, tasty food.

Feeding your family healthy foods can help set children up for physical and mental health. Kids (and adults) need their vitamins and minerals in order for their body to heal, grow, and function well. And a healthy diet can contribute to overall mental and emotional well-being.   Read More