Improve Mental Health With Exercise by Coach Tony

Hey Famiglia,

Coach Tony here to talk about the benefits of exercise on mental health. The physical benefits of exercising go without saying. The focus of this post though, is of the more underlying benefits that are not as obviously observed. The psychological and emotional benefits of regular movement show us the real value of having a fitness routine. With anxiety disorders affecting about 40 million adults and depression hitting more than 15 million adults in the U.S. alone, the advantages of finding your preferred form of exercise can be life changing.

The Benefits On Mental Health

As you become more active, neurotransmitters (such as norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine) and endorphins are released in your brain that specifically help you feel better, manage stress better and reduce the perception of pain. In addition, regular exercise has been shown to be connected strongly to help keep you cognitively sharp into later life as it helps prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, which is used in memory and learning. Moving on a regular basis can also help you get a better night’s sleep, which again goes hand in hand with stress reduction. Also, various studies have shown that keeping fit can create new brain cells and improve overall brain performance.

Put simply, if you want to have a higher sense of overall well-being, you should start moving.

Where Do I Start?

Now that we know exercise is good for you, let us make a game plan.

Now I know that life happens and then priorities start to shift. Try not to have an all-or-nothing mentality. Instead, see if you can have more of an Always Something. See if you can do just a little something most days of the week. Just a 5 min walk will help, if you feel like you can’t do it because you are exhausted.You can also schedule physical activity just like you would with work to fit small amounts into an already overwhelmed schedule. If you do not want to start out being in front of people, maybe home workouts may be better. Need to be held accountable? Find a walking buddy.

Walking is good way to start slow with something that is low impact if you are starting from scratch and not sure what to do first. All it takes it moving 30 minutes a day a few times a week. If you don’t have that kind of time in one block, try breaking it up. Go for 3 10-minute walks or 2 15-minute walks. If the work week does not even allow for that, then become a weekend warrior and fit in physical activity any way you can. Moderate intensity is a good place to start. If you are going for a walk with a friend, you should be able to have conversation comfortably and feel a little bit warmer.

Also, set yourself up for success. If you have higher energy levels in the morning, go for a walk or a jog when you wake up and make yourself a nice breakfast when you get back home. Busy work schedule? See if you can get yourself moving in the middle of the day.

The Takeaway

The body and mind are closely related. When you start to treat the body better through exercise and relieve physical tension, the mind will start to relax. The mind-body connection is strong. Capitalize that fact and leverage it to your advantage. Tend to the body and mind will reap the benefit. Find something you enjoy and stick with it. I should mention though, that if you do want some of these benefits faster, you will have to bump up the intensity. Do with this what you will. Have fun and be healthy.

Until next time Famiglia,


Want to learn more? Click here and here to learn how to adjust your diet to eat, move and live better.

Tips On A Healthier Breakfast by Coach Tony

Hey Familia,

Coach Tony here with a few thoughts on one of my favorite meals of the day – breakfast. One of the things that I love is starting the day off on a strong meal. Personally, that means having a hearty feeding that also happens to be healthy and tasty. That helps to fuel me for the day and leaves me feeling light and strong. That being said, it is not so easy doing that consistently with work and life. In a time where convenience and novelty dictates the majority of our decisions, we need to keep our eyes on the bigger picture. With US adult obesity rates consistently rising since 1990, rates range from as “low” as 20% to as high as 35.9% in 2014. New York, by the way, ranks 39th with an adult obesity rate of 27%. Guys, this isn’t about doing the healthy things because we want to – we have to.

Benefits Of A Healthy Breakfast

Having breakfast is always a personal choice, but let me be clear about the benefits. Those that have breakfast consistently also usually notice:
  • Less body fat
  • Less chronic, non-communicable disease
  • Improved learning/retention
  • Improved mood
  • Better food choices later in the day
  • Improved energy
  • Muscle preservation
  • Increased strength
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Improved bowel movements
  • Balanced blood sugars

How To Construct The Perfect Breakfast

Now that we’re all on the same page about the benefits, let us now clear up what a better breakfast looks like. Under ideal circumstances, breakfast should be made up of real, unprocessed foods that are protein dense, varied vegetables, and whole grains such as oats, millet, quinoa, amaranth, sprouted grains, etc.

When The Real World Hits

We all know the real world doesn’t always allow for the perfect breakfast. That’s when the donuts, pastries, fast food, frozen meals, and other polluted calories take over. Now, let me be perfectly honest – I love the way all these things taste. They’re delicious! But what I hate with a burning passion of a thousand suns is how I feel afterwards. The super sugary, factory made, nutritionless, processed crap sold for cheaper than a carton of eggs and “cooked” faster than it takes for you to send an email offers no real substance.  Feeling heavy, slow, bloated, and irritable makes just daily living activities uncomfortable. Add in a workout and holy crap am I hurting! In my world, I value strength and resilience. I’ll be damned if anything compromises that, even my own choices.

Tips For You

We now know that eating breakfast is good for you. We also now have a better understanding of what types of food to avoid. Let’s now get to what you can do right now. Include foods and meals you can have that can become routine. Here’s how I like to approach my morning feeding. Like meat? Go for quality such as uncured bacon, sausage made in the traditional way, and ham that looks like it came from an animal instead of square packaging. Like starch? Opt for english muffins instead of bagels, croissants, and rolls. Throw in plenty of veggies with your eggs. Make a quiche or frittata so you only have more feedings from cooking once. One great healthy meal is worthless if you only eat it once a year. Make it routine. It needs to become habit for you to reap the benefits. Once breakfast is second nature, then you can start playing around. Does it have enough protein? What vegetables are in it? Are these whole grains? Is this food real, unprocessed and made with love?

With the knowledge of why we need to eat a healthy breakfast, what categorizes as healthy, and well as some guidelines to follow – you should now be well on your way to having a better start to each and every day.

Until next time Familia.


Coach Tony

My Journey to Going Alcohol-Free by Coach Crystal

As the weather gets warmer, more opportunities arise for a night on the town or hanging out at an awesome, trendy, brewery or rooftop bar all while trying to get your body “summer” ready. Of course, at all of these new trendy spots, there’s a 99.9% chance you’ll find alcohol and will likely end up with a glass in your hand.

As fitness professionals, we hear, “do I have to give up alcohol?”, or something of the sort. Do not get me wrong, I am also guilty of asking the same question when I began my journey into strict dieting and the competition life.

The Beginning:

Many people don’t know that I used to drink a lot; in frequency and quantity. I had my fun in college but I began drinking more as a post grad; going to bars every night or drinking by myself at home. I drank pretty much anything! If I didn’t like it, I would still drink because it gave me the escape I looked for daily. My drinking habits consisted of a frequency of 6 days a week; around 4 to 6 glasses of wine, maybe throw a cocktail in between there if I were with friends. If I were home alone, I’d have maybe 2 to 3 drinks of a distilled beverage; whiskey, rum, it didn’t matter.

Fast forward to beginning my fitness journey in New Jersey when I began working out consistently.  I participated in boot camp classes, got myself a trainer and took yoga for variety and restorative purposes. I felt better about myself while I was getting into better shape. Still, I drank like a sailor and didn’t watch what I ate too closely.

The Struggle of Cutting Out Alcohol:

After becoming a Flywheel Instructor, I made the choice to become the person I preached about in my classes. I found myself as a competition coach and began dreaming of becoming a female bodybuilder. Placed on a strict diet, I ate as clean as possible; no processed foods or anything with a shelf life. I made a significant cut on my sugar intake and began drinking tons of water (a gallon a day to be exact).

I struggled with it for months. Struggling to eat 5 to 6 times a day and drinking that much water was hell on my bladder. While I stuck to my diet and workout plans, I would still hang out with my friends and drink to get DRUNK! I was limited to ONLY three glasses of red wine per week. This was torture because 3 glasses of wine was my version of “pre-gaming”.

I followed the rules and stuck to three glasses a week. I was so focused on my fitness goal that sometimes I had less than the limit of three. One day, I recalled not drinking for about 3 weeks. At that moment, I decided to have a glass of wine and the result was feeling like a truck smacked me in the face the next morning.

After that, I stopped drinking for 11 months and the change was remarkable.  Most of the time, others are reluctant to commit to fitness goals because it takes a great deal of sacrifice. Cutting back on the drinks is one of them. While the choice is yours on how significantly you want to cut back, I recommend under two to three drinks a week. Whether you are trying to build muscle, maintain your current figure, or lose weight, limiting your alcohol intake is important because it plays a crucial role is digestion. When you consume your adult beverage, your body wants to metabolize the alcohol first. It lowers the body’s ability to generate new proteins, a process crucial for building muscle. Not only that, but we’ve heard it before; alcohol dehydrates you. Water is essential for weight loss but it also plays a role in building muscle mass. Composed of about 70% of water, alcohol acts as a diuretic and pulls water out. Thus, reducing the process of breaking down proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Alcohol impairs the recovery period and has a direct effect on athletic performance.

Tips for you:

While everyone’s fitness goal may vary and we enjoy having a drink or two with family and friends, I challenge you try limiting yourself to 2 to 3 drinks of wine or clear spirits per week. (If you need a mixer, try club soda. No added sugar!) Not to worry, I’ll be there with you. My next drink won’t be until after October 2017.

Eight months of working out, clean eating, and no alcohol.
Crystal Fraser October 2015/July 2016

Who is Crystal Fraser?

Crystal is one of our newest coaches here at Body Space Fitness! She joined us in November 2016 and currently coaches on Saturday mornings. Crystal is also a FlyWheel Instructor and an IFBB Figure Professional. Join her on her continued journey of going alcohol-free!