Fitness with a quickness

Maintaining goals for health, fitness with a busy schedule


Photo by Lance Henderson

Jane Van Voorst, senior project manager for Horizon Bank, works out with her personal trainer, Jason Lehman, from Fitness Gear & Training.


As a senior project manager for Horizon Bank, Jane Van Voorst is as busy as anyone. Despite her busy schedule, Van Voorst said she works out every day doing aerobics every morning and staying in close contact with her personal trainer.

“I want to get back to the shape I was in and maintain it,” she said.

Her trainer, Jason Lehman, who is a medical exercise specialist with Fitness Gear & Training, said Van Voorst has done well with her goal.

“She has gone above and beyond where she was before,” Lehman said.

But Van Voorst isn’t working to get back to her high-school weight or anything like that, but back to the shape she was in before she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

“That is my driving motivation,” she said.

Although the circumstances were unfortunate, Van Voorst’s motivation for fitness should be an inspiration to all those lucky enough to have not received a life-changing wake-up call.

In the thick of the rat race, diet and exercise seem like outlandish concerns. No time to exercise. No time to eat right. But for some reason, tons of time to make excuses about how next month or after the first of the year, fitness will reign supreme.

Zac Palmer, owner of Bellingham-based Fitness Gear & Training, said although they can be a good motivational tool, he is not really a fan of New Year’s resolutions.

“There is no reason to wait that one, two, or even three months to start that resolution,” Palmer said. “I think if you already have the mindset to get going on fitness — why wait?”


‘Simple, good food is simply good food’

Edward Layton, co-owner of Natural Health Bellingham, said just like with a workout regimen, healthy nutrition starts with a plan.

“It should be fun, tasty and enjoyable, but the secret to good nutrition in a busy lifestyle is planning,” Layton said.

In a hectic world, where it sometimes seems that everyone is late for their next appointment, it is easy to find yourself skipping breakfast, in line at a fast-food joint for lunch, and grabbing a pre-fab meal for dinner.

“A lot of the pre-prepared, easy-to-heat meals have very low nutritional value,” Layton said. “Processed foods are high in carbohydrates and really low in vegetables. Take Hot Pockets, for example, people grab those and go and people think how they are not hungry anymore, but have they gotten the nutrition that they want?”

Layton said setting up a meal plan can take the guesswork out of what to eat and makes sure that healthy options are always available.

“Between family, business and networking obligations, sometimes it is hard to squeeze in time to eat well, and that is where meal planning comes in,” Layton said.

Layton said the pillars of good nutrition are to eat good, non-processed food, eat mostly plants, choose organic meats and cold-water fish, and drink plenty of water.

“There is a lot of contradictory diet information out there, but simple, good food is simply good food,” Layton said.


Redefining time

With no time to eat right, many people completely forget about exercise.

Zac Palmer, from Fitness Gear & Training, said a lack of time is the No. 1 obstacle to a person’s fitness goals. However, Palmer has little sympathy for that excuse because he is a prime example of someone with a busy schedule, working six or seven 14-hour days a week.

“I always manage to get a workout in,” Palmer said. “So there really is no excuse. I don’t care who you are or how busy you are — there is something you can be doing.”

Palmer said there are inexpensive exercise items, such as exercise bands and workout balls that can be used during a few spare moments around the office.

“You can roll back on a 15-minute break and do a set of push-ups, some jumping jacks or other calisthenics to get your heart rate up,” Palmer said. “Every hour, just take five minutes to get that heart rate back up.”

Palmer said people should also rethink how much time they spend in the gym. Exercise, Palmer said, is best as a balance of resistance training and cardiovascular conditioning, and too many people overemphasize cardio and neglect resistance training. For example, someone who spends two hours on an exercise bike, while motivated, is not receiving a balanced workout.

“You can do all you need in 45 minutes,” Palmer said. “In most cases, beyond that you are causing more harm than good.”


Vary the routine

When it comes to eating healthy, it is best to have a plan. However, Layton said, it shouldn’t be a completely regimented plan.

“Food should be fun. It’s one of the pleasures that we have in our lives,” Layton said. “If it’s not fun, you are not going to keep up with it.”

Layton said families and individuals should take a cooking class or read a new cookbook to inspire them with ways to vary what they eat.

“There are lots of ways to be adventurous with what you eat within the context of eating well,” Layton said.

As for exercise, Palmer said it is great to have a routine where you outline the days and times to work out, but the workout should be anything but routine.

If exercise is a balance between cardio conditioning and resistance training, then a strictly cardio workout everyday will not challenge the entire body.

“Eighty percent of our equipment sales are cardiovascular, but there is only so much you can achieve through the cardiovascular side of fitness,” Palmer said.

Layton said a workout must be varied to keep it fun, because if a workout is not fun, then it becomes work.

“If there is too much work in the workout, your New Year’s resolution is going to last until February,” Layton said. “You are going to hit Valentine’s Day and it’s going to be all over.”


Create a recipe for success

Once fitness has been made a priority, the hardest part is keeping it a priority.

Lehman, the medical exercise specialist with Fitness Gear & Training, said the first step is setting reachable goals.

“Realistic goals and not setting yourself up for failure is essential to getting in the right mindset,” Lehman said.

However, Lehman said, nothing can be accomplished if health and fitness are not first a priority.

“A lot of people put fitness pretty low on their priority list,” Lehman said, “but if you set a schedule, have a plan and follow that plan — that is a recipe for success.”

Palmer said that surrounding oneself with an encouraging and supportive group of people will increase the chance of success.

“We all have friends or family members who are the eternal pessimists,” Palmer said. “Surround yourself with positive people and the mindset will stick.”


Getting and staying motivated about fitness

  • Make diet and exercise a priority
  • Create an exercise and eating schedule
  • Vary exercise and eating routines
  • Have fun with your workout
  • Make yourself accountable to a trainer or workout buddy
  • Take a healthy cooking class or read a healthy cookbook
  • Set realistic fitness goals; don’t set yourself up for failure
  • Surround yourself with positive people

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