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    Member-Led Go Forth International Helps Those in Need

    Go Forth3Our members are among the most philanthropic people in their respective communities, and we love hearing about the good works they do for others.

    Angie DeLeon and her family, longtime members of Midtown Athletic Club in Willowbrook, IL, are true stewards of hope and charity.

    When Angie retired from Cook County Hospital as a registered nurse in 2004, she and a few other retired healthcare workers founded Go Forth International, a non-profit organization that provides healthcare services to global communities in need.

    The missions each run about three months at a time and are staffed by a team of volunteers. Most recently, the group went to the Philippines and provided health screenings, eye checkups, and dental hygiene to over 10,000 patients.

    Go Forth2

    Go Forth4

    We are truly inspired by Angie and her dedication to the global community.

    The world needs more people like her in it.

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    Go Forth9

    You Should Be Eating Lentils

    lentilsJenny Maloney, Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer from Midtown Athletic Club in Chicago, IL, is back to talk lentils, and why you need them in your life.

    The inauspicious lentil doesn’t often get the credit it deserves, but this delicious and nutrient-dense legume deserves top billing on your lunch or dinner plates for myriad reasons.

    Here are just a few:

    • Lentils are inexpensive; they are non-perishable and bought dry, and so therefore much cheaper than buying meat or fish.
    • Lentils are easy to make; you can cook them over the stove or better yet, in a crockpot while you are away for the day.
    • Lentils are not only an excellent source of fiber, potassium, folate, iron, magnesium, calcium, antioxidants, and zinc, but they’re also high in protein, and low in sodium and fat. In fact, lentils are higher in protein than quinoa per serving, and are a great dinner substitution for meat if you find yourself eating too much of it. Add in your own seasonings, sauces, and additional foods to your lentils, and you have a complete meal that provides you with the energy and nutrients you need to power through your day.
    • If you suffer from tummy troubles, lentils are great for the digestive system, as they are a good source of soluble and insoluble fiber, making them not only easy to digest but also an aid in disease prevention.
    • Lentils can also help keep blood sugars stable; they are a complex carbohydrate, which allows for slow digestion and feelings of satiety.

    Here’s an easy recipe that you can make in the crockpot:

    Lentil and Vegetable Souplentil soup


    2 cups dried and rinsed lentils

    14 ounce can diced tomatoes (not drained)

    ½ cup chopped carrots

    ½ cup chopped celery

    16 ounces of vegetable or chicken broth

    2 cups raw spinach

    1 bay leaf

    2 cloves of garlic

    salt and pepper to taste


    Put all ingredients, except for spinach, in a crockpot for about 6-7 hours on low heat. Add spinach at the end for extra nutrition.


    Pilates is a Game-Changer

    Ban Pilates1Bill Schwartz is a 67-year-old member of Midtown Athletic Club in Bannockburn, IL, and while he loves playing team tennis, he never thought Pilates Reformer would work for his “tired, old body.”

    And yet five sessions of working with Pilates Instructor Kathryn Inda have been life-changing for Bill. His tennis buddies were so impressed with his on-court improvement that they are now Pilates class regulars, too.

    Ban Pilates2

    Bill’s friend Steve Jacobsen now joins him in a weekly Monday night Pilates Reformer session with Kathryn.

    Says Bill, “I have a history of lower back problems and had knee replacement surgery a few years back. I didn’t think there was any hope for this old body, but Pilates Reformer has completely changed my life. On the tennis court, I’m getting to balls that in the past I wouldn’t even bother going after.”

    Ban Pilates3

    For more information about Pilates Reformer classes at Midtown Athletic Club in Bannockburn, IL, contact Pilates Coordinator Kathryn Inda at kathryn.inda@midtown.com.

    Ban Pilates5

    Should I Take Vitamins?

    vitaminsMidtown Athletic Club in Chicago’s Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer Jenny Maloney takes over the blog today to discuss whether or not you really need to take a daily vitamin or a mineral supplement each day.

    About half of the American population takes at least one supplement or vitamin daily.

    Billions of dollars are spent on vitamins and supplements each year, for reasons that vary from sports performance to nutrient deficiency (perceived and real), weight loss, and disease prevention. And those taking them vary from professional athletes to senior citizens, from college students to young children.

    Supplements and vitamins are not well regulated by the FDA, so consumer beware. You may not be getting from the supplement what its outside packaging says you are. The FDA makes sure the supplement is safe to take, but that’s about it. And if you’re taking supplements your body doesn’t need, you could be at risk for vitamin toxicity.

    Here is what I recommend:

    1. Support your body’s needs through eating a proper diet full of nutrient-dense foods. Many Americans eat too many empty calories, which leads to poor nutrition. Take a look at how you can improve your meals before grabbing a bunch of vitamins.

    fruits and veggies

    2. Have your blood levels checked to see if you have any deficiencies, and talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian if you are having symptoms of deficiencies. Those at risk for nutrient deficiencies include people with poor diets, those who follow restrictive diets, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and those with food allergies.  Your doctor might prescribe a specific vitamin due to a diagnosed deficiency. You can find more information about vitamin deficiencies here.

    Many people feel better both physically and emotionally when adding vitamins and supplements to their diets. As long as you are taking them responsibly, not taking too many, and eating a healthy diet as well, adding them to your daily routine can be worth it.

    But keep this in mind.

    We are all trying to take better care of our health, and that’s a good thing. However, research shows that vitamins and supplements don’t help with disease prevention.

    The best way to prevent disease and extend your life is through a healthy diet and regular exercise.

    10 Nutrition Tips to Complement Your Fitness Routine

    M-Cafe Caprese Salad-2Whether you’re training for a spring race or you want to counteract the effects of winter weight gain, Jenny Maloney, Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer from Midtown Athletic Club in Chicago, has 10 eating tips to help you get leaner, move faster, and feel better.

    1. Maintain Portion Control

    Use your hand as a guide to measure out your food to ensure you’re eating the right amounts of the necessary daily nutrients your body requires:

    Your palm size determines the amount of protein you require.

    Your fist size determines the amount of veggies you should place on your plate.

    Your cupped hand determines the size of your carbohydrate portion.

    Your thumb size determines the amount of fat you should consume.

    2. Planning Makes Perfect

    Set aside some time each day (or each week) to plan and balance out your meals ahead of time. This helps you avoid last-minute scrambles for meals where you often end up with less-than-healthy options on your plate.

    green smoothie weston3. Keep It Real

    The supermarket shelves are stocked with overly processed, nutrient-poor foods that can easily derail a healthy lifestyle. Purchase real, whole, minimally processed foods with 5 or fewer ingredients whenever possible.

    4. Spice It Up

    Make an effort to eat a variety of foods each day. Just as it’s important to switch up your workouts to prevent boredom and to keep your body from entering a fitness plateau, changing up your meals will ensure your body is getting the various nutrients it needs to help you reach your fitness goals.

    5. Avoid Sugar Bombs

    Sugar is found in large quantities in the most unlikely places, from bread to peanut butter to yogurt and pasta sauce. Read labels before placing items in your grocery cart and look for 5 grams or fewer of sugar per serving.

    photo (59)

    6. Know Your Numbers

    Don’t skip your annual physical and ask your doctor to order bloodwork to check for vitamin or mineral deficiencies. You might not be reaching your fitness goals if your body isn’t getting what it needs from the food you’re eating.

    7. Stay Fueled and Hydrated

    Drink water before, during, and after your workout to stay hydrated. Eat before and after exercising as an energy-boost, to increase the performance and quality of your workout, to preserve muscle mass, and to help with recovery.

    granola bar8. Enjoy an Afternoon Snack

    Choose a healthy afternoon snack to avoid dips in your energy level. An afternoon snack can also prevent you from overeating at night.

    9. Eat for Energy

    Go for carbohydrates, fat, and protein at each meal and snack. Carbs will give you immediate energy, while protein and fat will give you sustained energy.

    10. Be Consistent 

    This is the key to both reaching and maintaining your goal in a healthy way. Find what nutrition and exercise plan works for you and stick with it.

    Eating for Optimum Recovery

    granola barRegistered Dietitian and Personal Trainer Jenny Maloney from Midtown Athletic Club in Chicago shares why what you eat after your workout is just as important as what you eat before exercising.

    Following a vigorous workout, your muscles and tissues need to repair so your body can avoid injury and prepare for your next workout.

    What and when you eat can help make this an efficient and effective process. Try to eat within 30-60 minutes after exercise. If your workout includes resistance training, go for food high in protein and carbohydrates.

    If you don’t have time to eat a real food snack or meal, protein powders and energy bars are a convenient option.  The market is loaded with options, though, so read labels and find one that works for you.

    Choose a powder or bar that has the most natural ingredients and stay away from the more processed and sugary ones. On the nutrition label, look for 5 grams or fewer of sugar, 5-20 grams of protein (more protein for muscle-building), 15-30 grams of carbohydrates, and 5-10 grams of fat.

    Whey protein is quickly absorbed and tastes great in a smoothie.

    Try this Recovery Smoothie recipe with whey protein powder:


    1 cup milk or milk substitute

    2 small, pitted dates

    ½ banana

    ½ cup ice cubes

    1/8 tsp cinnamon

    1/8 tsp vanilla extract

    1/2 -1 scoop of whey protein powder


    Blend and enjoy!

    50 For 50: Dena Levy’s Story

    denaDena Levy, a 14-year member of Midtown Athletic Club in Rochester, NY, turns 50 years young on Sunday, March 22.

    In January of this year, Dena decided to commemorate her milestone birthday by recommitting herself to a once vigorous fitness routine that had in recent years been thwarted by injury and illness.

    Dena decided to complete 50 workouts in the days and weeks leading up to her 50th birthday.

    There was just one challenge, which she didn’t realize until after setting the goal. She had just 53 days to fit in the 50 workouts before March 22.

    With a determined spirit and an unwavering desire to make 50 her best year yet, Dena is on track to reach her goal by Sunday.

    We sat down with Dena to learn more about her 50 For 50 project.

    Q: What inspired you to set this goal?

    A: I had surgery on my Achilles about two years ago and since then, I’ve had a difficult time returning to a consistent workout routine. Each time I got started, something would happen (chronic pain in my foot, pneumonia, etc.). I used to work out regularly, so I was very frustrated.  At the end of January, I decided that before I turned 50 I would get back to a regular routine, and so I came up with “50 for 50.”  The only problem was that I discovered I had just 53 days to get in the 50 workouts.  But I think having so few “rest” days available actually made the challenge more intense, which served as great motivation.

    Q: Do you have a fitness goal in mind for your 50 workouts?

    A: My goal is to get back to a regular routine after the challenge is over, where I work out 4-to-5 times a week. My next goal is to run a 5K in the spring. I haven’t done one since I had my daughter almost 9 years ago. 

    Q: What’s a regular workout at Midtown like for you?

    A: I work out with Dina (personal trainer Dina Smock) once a week, and then generally I use the treadmills. Sometimes, I will mix it up by using a bike or an elliptical. 

    Q: How many workouts have you completed so far?

    A: As of today, 47.

    Q: How have you kept yourself accountable?

     A: The best decision I made was to tell people about this challenge. Doing so has kept me accountable. I also put together a small “50 for 50″ Facebook group so I can report to my friends and family where I am and what I have done. It’s a pretty shameless attempt to get encouragement, but it definitely helps. And my daughter made count-down chain for me and every evening she takes off one of the loops from the chain. This has actually helped a lot because we can see how it keeps getting shorter and shorter!

    Happy birthday, Dena! We are incredibly proud of your resolve and commitment to improving your health, and we have no doubt that 50 will be your healthiest year yet.

    Top 10 Nutrition Trends for 2015

    Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer Jenny Maloney from Midtown Athletic Club in Chicago is talking real food, healthy fats, food allergies, and seven other top nutrition trends for 2015.

    We’re six weeks into the new year, and setting and meeting health-related goals is still tops in the minds of many. Whatever your health goal might be this year, staying on-trend will get you on the right track to weight loss, a healthier immune system, or a more fit you by the time the year comes to a close.

    1. Eat Real Food

    This year, fad diets are out, and real foods are in. Consume as many real, minimally processed foods as possible. Grab an apple and some almonds instead of a granola bar and give your body some real nutrients. Also, Big Food is taking notice of increased consumer spending on healthier, organic foods and is making changes to offer more healthful options.

    organic veggies2. Eat Local and Farm-to-Table

    Farmers markets have been around for years and we know that local food is a great, healthier choice. Studies show that grass-fed meat and organic produce have more nutrients than their conventionally grown counterparts. More restaurants are featuring local foods and ingredients and supporting area farmers. In 2015, more people than ever before will shop at farmers markets, food co-ops, and purchase meat and produce from a CSA.

    3. Have Some Fat

    Healthy fats, including those found in olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocado, have long been known to contribute to overall wellness. But new research suggests that butter and steak in moderation are just fine too. Studies have found that sugar, and not saturated fat, is the main contributor to heart disease, so use real butter and whole milk in moderation when cooking.

    food allergies4. New Testing for Food Allergies

    Over the past 10 years, the number of people suffering from food allergies has skyrocketed.  Help is now more readily available for those who have sensitivities or allergies, and with better testing comes relief once the culprits are identified and eliminated from the diet. In addition, restaurants and grocery stores are more allergy- friendly than ever before.

    5. Fermented Foods

    Fermented foods, such as kefir, kombucha, tempeh, miso, sauerkraut, yogurt, and kimchiare, are natural probiotics, or good bacteria that helps balance the gut. These healthy bacteria are good for digestion, help absorb nutrients, and are hot in 2015.

    6. Coconut and Date Sugar

    We already know that we are consuming too much sugar, so many are looking for sugar alternatives or healthier, less processed versions like coconut and date sugar. Keep in mind, though, that while you may get slightly more nutrients from coconut and date sugar, your body will still break them down as sugar, and sugar consumption should be limited. Aim for a maximum of 5-9 teaspoons a day no matter what kind of sugar you prefer.

    amareth7. New Grains

    Quinoa has long been identified as a supergrain, and now others like millet, amaranth, kamut, farro, spelt, and chia (actually a seed), are growing in popularity. Grains are a good source of fiber and B vitamins, and complement a meal nicely.

    8. Leafy Greens

    Kale is still in, but the other leafy greens are rising. Try Swiss chard, collard greens, turnip greens, and mustard greens for variety.  These greens are packed with nutrients like antioxidants, calcium, and Vitamins A, E, and C.

    9. Nutrition Labels and Facts

    Nutrition labels are becoming more user-friendly and easier to understand. More restaurants are providing nutrition information for their food, and consumers are better informed and can use the information to make healthier decisions about what they eat.

    10. Non-GMO Dietgmo

    Awareness of genetically modified foods (GMOs) is growing. More products are being labeled “GMO-Free” because savvy consumers are seeking out these products and buying organic foods to ensure that there are no GMOs.

    Hot Fitness Trends for 2015

    jono senk and hayley hollanderWondering what’s hot and what’s not in fitness this year?

    National Fitness Director Scott Hopson outlines the Top 4 Fitness Trends for 2015 to provide you with some ideas to jumpstart your routine if your fitness resolutions have begun to lag.

    1. Fusion Classes and Small Group Training

    “Gone are the days where people are searching for a solo and singular fitness experience,” says Scott. What’s hot are hybrids: Spinyasa (spin and Yoga Vinyasa), small group training, multi-station OMNIA workouts, and water-dry land classes.

    Why? “Because they’re fun!”, says Scott. Fusion classes and small group training allow you to try something new and exciting in a less intimidating, social environment, which increases your comfort level by providing a social space in which to work out.

    And once you’re in, you want to come back because of the connections you’ve made with others in your class or small group.

    “We’re finding that members also feel badly when they miss their group workouts, because they feel they’ve let down their friends in class who count on them to be there for moral support. Once you find your community, you don’t miss workouts often because of the friendships formed over fitness,” says Scott.

    2. Biofeedback

    Wearable technology that allows you to not only track your heart rate, but also your daily stress level and training zone provide you with the data you need for an effective workout.

    The younger generation is suffering from adult diseases (Diabetes, Heart Disease, High Cholesterol) and older adults are living longer with disease. These two facts make biofeedback data essential to maintaining or improving health. Our coaches are trained to work with members on effective biofeedback such as Polar, and MYZONE technology is currently available in two clubs, with more to come. The on-screen data provided by these tools allows you to see the exact effectiveness of your workouts with medical-grade accuracy.

    “Knowledge is power,” says Scott. “The data we provide via these tools makes you accountable for your health, which is key to making the lifestyle changes needed to improve overall fitness.”

    3. Mind.Body

    Yoga and Pilates classes will be hotter than ever this year. According to Scott, “People are more stressed than ever before, and they’re turning to Mind.Body classes for balance, connection, and centering.”

    new Pilates

    While certain extreme workouts at smaller studios and gyms may serve to break you down by encouraging overtraining and under-recovery, Mind.Body classes elevate your spirit through helping participants learn to slow down, breath more completely, and focus on total wellness. This is something people will focus on in 2015 more than ever before.

    youth fitness4. Youth Movement

    Parents are realizing that the earlier they introduce their kids to a fitness routine, the easier it will be for them to continue leading active lives as adults.

    “To adapt to the growing interest in youth fitness, Midtown has created a model based on child development,” says Scott. “Our Youth Fitness coaches and instructors focus on the entire child, including cognitive, emotional, and gross motor skills, to ensure that our programming perfectly fits kids in every age group.”

    We’re also working hard to transform each club’s Kidtown into an area of active, focused play so that when kids are visiting, they’re engaged in physical activity to grow both their bodies and their minds. Several clubs have kids fitness equipment from Exergame Fitness and Pavigym installed, with more clubs following suit in the future.

    We’re one month into 2015. If your commitment to your fitness resolutions isn’t as robust as it was 30 days ago, mix up your routine with a fusion, small group training, or Mind.Body class. Your body will thank you for it.

    New Year, New You: Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem’s Story

    shekhamNeed a little inspiration to get fit in 2015?

    Look no further than Midtown Athletic Club in Willowbrook, IL member Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem.

    Late last year, Heidi joined an online weight-loss challenge program that required her to log a 30-minute workout every day, for one month. She decided to use Twitter to hold herself accountable, figuring that if she announced her workout to her followers, then she had to get it done.  

    We sat down with Heidi to ask her some questions about her workout challenge:

    What was your challenge goal?

    I wanted to get fit, but I don’t believe in weighing myself on a regular basis. Weight loss should be slow and steady. I step on the scale once per month and instead, I focus on how I feel, my energy level, and how my clothes fit.

    What were the biggest challenges of your 30-day workout commitment? 

    With 2 young boys, ages 2 and 4, and a full-time career, I’m exhausted by the end of the day. It was hard to get the energy to get to the gym, but I did it!

     What was the key to your success?

    Being organized! I had to have everything prepared for myself and the boys the night before. I set out clothes, prepped food, had my music playlist ready and my iPod charged. All it takes is one little excuse to find a reason why it won’t work today and I wanted to avoid that all together.

    How did you keep yourself motivated to do a workout every day for 30 days straight?

    I kept telling myself, “It’s just 30 minutes. I quickly discovered that no matter how busy I was, with the proper planning, I could squeeze in a quick, 30-minute workout each day.

    And I did!

     Why Midtown?

    Midtown offers a working mom many conveniences, the biggest one being Kidtown.  I love having the ability to drop the kids off in a place where they are safe, happy, and well-taken care of while I work out, go to the spa, sauna, and steam room, or relax in the tennis lounge or café. The ability to grab a nutritious snack or meal for the kids in the M Café when I’m really short on time is great too.

    I also love the people at Midtown. Many of the associates and members took notice of how hard I was working during my challenge, and I really appreciated that. I also love to use engage on Midtown’s social media channels because I received a lot of support to keep it up there as well.

    Heidi summed up her 30-day workout challenge with this: “The goal to be healthy is great, and for me, it was about setting the goal and reaching it!”

    We’re so proud of you, Heidi.

    You can find Midtown Athletic Club in Willowbrook, IL on Facebook at facebook.com/midtownwillowbrook and on Twitter @midtown_will.

    Tweet Heidi at @heidi_mcsista.

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