One More Rep: Lunges!

Ahhh lunges… you either love ’em or hate ’em. But let’s face it, they are one helluva a good way to target your legs.

Three reasons you should be doing lunges in your strength routine:

  1. Lunges mimic several of our daily movement patterns from kneeling down to help a child or tie your shoe to simply walking. Building strength through lunges will help you move better (and safer) throughout your day.
  2. Lunges also train muscular imbalances. In a squat your stronger leg can dominate, but in a lunge you work one leg at a time forcing you to build strength independently in each leg.
  3. Lunges challenge your balance and stabilizing muscles (including your core) important for total strength and injury prevention.

Now this isn’t to say squats and other leg exercises aren’t important too – just make sure lunges are working their way into your training routine.

Below are some trainer tips to get one more rep for a better lunge!

  1. Step forward with toes pointing straight ahead
  2. Lengthen up tall through your spine
  3. Tighten core & lift your chest
  4. Knee over toes – keep the knee stable & minimize side-to-side movement
  5. Drive through your front heel, keeping your weight out of your front toes
  6. Start with body weight lunges to focus on technique



Trainer Tip: Maximize Your Seated Rows!

The seated row is an excellent way to target your back muscles. Strengthening and developing a strong back side is important for muscle balance & posture. So much of what we do daily – computer work, house work, driving, planking 😉  – involve the muscles in our chest & shoulders. Targeting the muscles in the back counterbalance many of those movements. While it’s important to keep planking for core strength, make sure you are strengthening your back side too! 

Here are a few trainer tips to maximize your next set:

  • Keep upper body movement to a minimum
  • Stay tall through the torso
  • Keep shoulder blades back and squeezed
  • Think about using all your back muscles and triceps
  • If your forearm and biceps muscles burn out before the back muscles then you need to refocus the work to your back muscles

Here are two videos to illustrate the correct and incorrect posture in the a seated row. 

Potatoes – To Eat or Not to Eat?!

Do you know someone who doesn’t eat fruit or yogurt because of the sugar content, yet they will eat pretzels or rice cakes in unlimited amounts? There are so many misconceptions about carbs. If you are going to take one thing from this post: Carbs are not created equal. Here’s just one example – POTATOES!

All potatoes contain beneficial resistant starch. These resistant starches and fiber get fermented in the gut and produce short-chain fatty acids. Short-Chain Fatty Acids:

  • Keep you fuller longer
  • Increase mineral absorption and nutrient circulation
  • Prevent absorption of toxins
  • Decrease inflammation

Are you ready for this… Even. White. Potatoes.

When compared to a sweet potato, the overall nutritional value is similar but the type of nutrients vary. This means a variety of potatoes is important for a variety in nutrients. 

Some people have sworn off white potatoes because of their glycemic index  (a value assigned to foods based on how slowly or how quickly those foods cause an increase in blood sugar levels). But keep in mind that when it comes to the glycemic index and how your body responds, there are many things that come into play. This can vary depending on your cooking method, your sleep quality, genetics, activity level, time of day, medications, gut bacteria and the amount of protein, fiber and fat that’s eaten with the food item. So don’t get so consumed on this number.

Everything in moderation! So yes that means a meat and potatoes meal is not recommended daily (sorry!).  But here are ways to eat potatoes with a healthier twist:

  • Boiled
  • Roasted
  • Baked
  • Topped with olive oil and herbs
  • Topped with salt

Limit potatoes prepared:

  • As chips
  • Fried
  • “Loaded” with all the fixins’
  • With lots of cream and butter

Vanessa Lennick, RD, LRD
Registered Dietitian
Proximal50 Life Center

Want to know more? Ready to ditch the diet and find nutrition strategies that actually work for YOU? Ready to eat real food and enjoy it? Schedule a free consult with Vanessa online:

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Is Reset90 for me?

Reset90 is an 90 day online accountability group led by the team of wellness pros from Proximal50 Life Center. Reset90 is for you, if:

  • You’re looking to create healthy lifestyle habits that stick, like meal planning/prepping and/or incorporating more fruits and veggies
  • You’re lacking in the energy department
  • You’re struggling to get into a fitness routine and need some guidance
  • You’re trying to reduce your “cravings,” but just can’t seem to kick them
  • You’re looking for a community to support and push you towards your goals
  • You’re searching for a way to better manage stress
  • You’re tired of starting the newest fad diet only to end up right back where you started
  • You like the idea of a holistic approach to your health
  • You want to make long-term changes, without meal replacements, products & supplements.

Recipe ideas, meal planning tips, workouts, stress management tactics, education on underrated health topics that make a HUGE difference in your health, daily accountability and motivation – all of this for LESS THAN $10/WEEK! What are you waiting for?

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Questions? Email Lindsey, Wellness Coach @ Proximal50 at

Fiber: What You Need to Know

In an effort to make popular packaged foods healthier, manufacturers began adding beneficial nutrients to help improve the nutrition profile of commonly consumed foods. Fiber is common added nutrient and manufactures will often heavily market the product as being high in fiber. (think fiber-added yogurt)

However, there is concern that these isolated and sometimes synthetic added fibers don’t provide the same nutritional benefit as fiber found in whole plant sources.  The FDA has now come out with a new definition of Fiber. To be listed as fiber, the ingredient must have effects that are beneficial to human health.

The food industry has asked the FDA for a 3 year delay to update food labels to the new compliance standards. Until then, be aware of these commonly used isolated and synthetic non-digestible carbohydrates that don’t meet the new fiber definition:

Apple fiber
Bamboo fiber
Corn Hull fiber
Cottonseed fiber
Gum Acacia
Insulin/oligofructose/synthetic short-chain fructooligosacchrides
Karaya gum
Oat Hull Fiber
Pea Fiber
Potato fiber
Rice Bran fiber
High-amylose corn/maize starch
Retrograded corn starch
Resistant wheat and maize starch
Soluble corn fiber
Soy fiber
Sugar beet fiber
Sugar cane fiber
Wheat fiber
Xanthan gum

Strive to get different types of fibers for various benefits and to help meet recommended amounts by eating whole plant foods such as whole grains, pulses (beans, lentils, peas), vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.

Vanessa Lennick
Registered Dietitian
Proximal50 Life Center

Group Workouts Shown to Improve Mental & Physical Wellbeing

A new study into the stress-relieving power of group fitness makes world headlines by proving what many have known all along – there is strength in numbers.

As the old proverb says, “necessity is the mother of invention”. When Dr. Dayna Yorks first arrived at medical school in Maine in 2013, she had a big problem. Group fitness classes were nonexistent on the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine campus, and she knew group exercise was necessary for her to maintain physical and mental health. What did this Les Mills instructor do about it? She not only brought CXWORX™ to campus, she simultaneously studied the effects of the class on medical students.

Now her research, published in the the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association is gaining worldwide attention, including coverage in more than 30 media outlets, for its overall finding that group fitness improves mental and physical well-being.

Yorks has always excelled in sports. She played college softball (pitcher and first baseman) at university, and was chosen as captain in her senior year. When she graduated team sports ended, and Yorks felt something was missing from her life.

“I somewhat begrudgingly tried a BODYPUMP class on the suggestion of my dad. I would have much rather been lifting big weights on the floor! Turns out that I loved it!” she says. “Group fitness filled the void that was missing as I was no longer a part of a team. I started as an enthusiastic participant, then took the leap to become an instructor about 10 years ago.”

Group exercise kept Yorks fit, provided her with social connections, and offered stress relief. “Exercise has always been my outlet, and by the time I started medical school, group fitness in particular was something I needed to feel grounded, whole, and alive,” she explains.

Without a formal group exercise program at medical school, Yorks once again felt that void. “I infrequently taught free-style classes to small groups of friends in an effort to feel like myself. I’ll never forget being in the [medical school gym’s] locker room, and one of my friends said to me, ‘Dayna, you need to figure out how to create an enduring group fitness program that will live on after you leave campus.’ It was her suggestion that inspired me to do just that.”

She did just that and much more. Yorks wanted to provide her fellow students with something lasting that would not only improve their physical fitness but also provide desperately needed stress relief. “Research has shown that incidences of major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder are five-fold higher in medical trainees than their age-matched, non-medical counterparts,” she says. “Additionally, many students and physicians suffer from burnout, fatigue, alcoholism, and even suicide.”

The answer for Yorks was obvious. She set her sights on Les Mills. “I realized that if I could get the school to fund the license for a Les Mills format, then I could effectively lay the foundation for an enduring group fitness program. LES MILLS programs have a strong infrastructure – there are multiple Initial Training Modules across the country for new students to become certified, and instructors are provided with music and choreography, which ensures fresh sounds and safe, effective programming based on science. I chose CXWORX because it’s only a half-hour long, requires minimal equipment, and I knew its focus on core and functional training would be relevant for future physicians.”

Yorks also chose CXWORX because of its potential to affect the way these future doctors practice medicine. “The third leading cause for patients to seek care from a primary care physician is low-back pain, and many times, it can be treated with core exercises,” says Yorks. “By affording medical students a class where they could experience core training first hand, it would hopefully carry over into their future practice as physicians. Research also shows that medical students who engage in physical exercise are more likely to encourage their patients to do so as well.”

It was during a workout at the gym that her anatomy professor suggested she also consider a research project. “We both agreed that concrete data on the effects of group fitness on medical student wellness would be helpful in procuring continued funding for the future. I worked in research prior to starting medical school so I was familiar with the process.”

CXWORX was a huge hit and was regularly attended by 70 students and staff. “I’ve never taught to so many people in a CXWORX class in my life,” beams Yorks.

The focus of the research was two-fold: “We wanted to see if participation in group exercise, individual exercise, or no exercise would have an effect on the wellbeing of medical students.” To that end, Yorks and her team hypothesized that:
1 – Participation in regular exercise would yield decreased perceived stress and increased physical, mental, and emotional quality of life.
2 – Participation in group fitness classes would yield greater stress reduction and quality of life improvement than exercising individually.

Bottom line? They were right!

“Essentially, we found that those who participated in at least one CXWORX class a week had a statistically significant decrease in stress, and an improvement in mental, physical, and emotional quality of life. Those who exercised individually showed improvement in mental quality of life, but no other significant changes were noted. This suggests that participation in group fitness classes could be a solution to improving the wellbeing of medical students.”

Specifically, the data showed the CXWORX group experienced:
12.6 percent increase in mental Quality of Life (QOL)
24.8 percent increase in physical QOL
26 percent increase in emotional QOL
26.2 percent decrease in perceived stress

“The individual exercise group had an 11 percent increase in mental QOL, but otherwise, no other statistically significant changes were observed,” Yorks explains.

Without discounting the well-demonstrated benefits of working out individually, the study suggests the “group effect” does have a particular significance: “The possibility that the social aspects of group exercise improved QOL and decreased stress also cannot be discounted. The social component of group exercise is therapeutic. Furthermore, group exercise classes often use up-tempo music and choreography to make the class more fun and engaging. Bringing together medical students who are all going through similar stresses to work out and have fun may transcend the experience of working out on their own.”

She has been both overwhelmed and thrilled by the media attention her project has attracted. “It certainly was not our intention to take the media by storm, nor were we expecting it,” she says. “Having the study disseminated on such a large scale is also a gift. Our study advocates for a shift in medical education and training to address student and physician wellness, in particular through group fitness. The more people who can become aware of the need for this change and the power of group exercise, the better!”

Today, Yorks is completing residency training to specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation. “I hope to do additional research in the future, potentially a similar project but for medical residents, which is arguably an even more stressful time in a physician’s career.”

While Yorks’ schedule may seem daunting, she says it’s well worth it. “It was towards the end of my medical education that I became a part of the Les Mills US Trainer team. So yes, juggling all of these roles is challenging! But I can’t imagine my life without all of them. I do the best I can, lead with my heart, and realize it’s okay to be ‘hashtag perfectnever’.”


  1. Medical students suffer above average stress-related depression and anxiety – making them an ideal study group
  2. The study used Les Mills’ CXWORX classes attended by 70 students and staff
  3. Those who attended at least one class per week showed lower stress levels
  4. Compared to individual exercisers, those in the group class scored higher for stress-reduction and physical, mental and emotional quality of life
  5. It was hypothesized that the social component of group exercise in itself is therapeutic.

Dayna Yorks is a medical doctor and researcher who, as a member of the Les Mills US trainer team, helps inspire and upskill a growing tribe of group fitness instructors.

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Trainer Tip! Get 2-3 more reps out of your set.

Bicep curls… easy peasy right? Sure the movement may seem simple, but there are several small adjustments you can make to get 2 or 3 more reps out of your next set for better results! Here are 5 trainer tips to get you there:

  • Elbows in at sides. Do not let those elbow flair out. If that’s the only way you can curl the weight – the weight is too heavy!
  • Shoulders back – stand tall & be proud of those beautiful biceps.
  • Elbows and shoulders should not move – think elbows under shoulder – the only movement is the biceps muscle lengthening
  • Hips in neutral position (tuck pelvis and brace core) do not pop the hips forward at the top – we are working those muscles.
  • There should be no pain  in front of shoulder. Re-evaluate your alignment!



3 Tips to Setting Your Fitness Resolutions

Whether it’s running your first 5k or setting a squat PR, here are three tips to setting a fitness or exercise goal:

1) Make it specific and measurable. Your goal should be clear and easy to understand. If you want to run a 5k, how far is that and what training plan will you follow to safely add miles? If you are after a weight room PR, what’s your starting point? How will you track your progress and how will you know when you’ve reached your goal?

2.) Now that you’ve identified exactly where you’re going, it’s time to make a plan on how you’re going to get there! Again, get as specific as possible. How many days a week will you train? What time of day? What will you do each day? What about cross-training/rest days? Are there areas you need support or guidance? What obstacles might get in the way of you reaching your goal? Being realistic and thorough about what works with your life, schedule, and other priorities from the beginning makes you more likely to stick to your plan in the long run.

3.) Enlist the help of others! Find a running partner or training buddy. Try group fitness classes and meet new people. When we add a social element to exercise, it can help keep it fun and keep us accountable. Consider a few personal training sessions – the help of a certified personal trainer can get you started on the right track.

There is no secret, no magic pill.

The holiday season is a magical time of year. But something to keep in mind this joyous holiday season as we head into the New Year… even though the season is magical; there is no magic pill, no new supplement, not never-heard-of-before secret that will will get you to your health & wellness goals.

No magical potion, no fairy dust. There are no foods or supplements that magically burn fat. No super foods will alter your genetic code. No products will miraculously melt fat while you watch TV or sleep. No one (or no product) can do it for you.

But what you can do is get a team of wellness professionals on your side to help you put one determined foot in front of the other. We will help you find your inner strength, your motivators… and you will actually enjoy the experience.

For a personalized plan tailored to your lifestyle and your preferences, contact Vanessa, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, to help you find a realistic, flexible eating style that helps you feel and be your best.

Food for thought: If there was a magic pill wouldn’t everyone be using it? 

Contact Vanessa, RDN, LRD

Why 80% of Resolutions Fail & 4 Ways to be in the 20%


At the close of a year, it is natural to be drawn to the fresh-start feeling that a new year can bring. Making a resolution (or three) for the new year ahead can feel motivating, refreshing, and bring hope for a better year ahead. We all know some of the most popular resolutions: losing weight, getting “fit,” or embarking on some sort of health improvement journey. Come the beginning of January, resolution-ers are enthusiastic to change. They join a gym, buy class passes, pay top dollar for meal plans and/or supplements. But by the second week of February, 80% of those resolutions that started with such bright hope are completely null and void. Why is that?

For any New Year’s resolution to be successful – health related or otherwise – it takes changing behavior and habits, built up over a lifetime (teaching an old dog new tricks). We set all these resolutions but we fail to address our ability to sustain motivation and how we’re going to handle the stress and discomfort that often accompanies change.

Changing habits and behaviors will not magically happen from January 1st when the clock strikes midnight. It takes time and practice to set new behavior patterns in order to sustain them long-term. Before you hit the gym every day in January, never to set foot in it again in February… or spend hundreds of dollars for packaged shakes and bars that will be on BisManOnline by March, follow these simple tips:

1) Set realistic goals. Keeping your goals within reach is important to staying motivated.

2) Set up your support system. No one likes to “go it alone” and we can all benefit from a little accountability. 

3) Try substitution instead of elimination. This simple change of mindset can quickly improve your attitude towards your goals.

4) Celebrate success. Tangible rewards are motivating and it’s important to celebrate along the way.

Ready to make 2018 the year you will reach your resolutions? Stop Resolving. Start DOING. Purchase the 2018 Kick-off Coaching Special, which includes:

  • 1 (60-75 minute) Vision Session, where we will map out your action plan for 2018
  • 3 (45 minute) Follow-Up Sessions (must be used within 6 weeks of initial session), where you’ll find the motivation and support to keep you on track towards your personal health and wellness goals.

Price: $175

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