Mind and Body

Control Your Mind and Conquer Your Body

You’ve been working hard and seeing some serious results. You start allowing yourself a few more treats…you skip a few days at the gym…you tell yourself you earned it. You still work out and eat fairly well, but as time goes by, you start noticing that your clothes get a little tighter or that some of the pudge around the middle came back. All of a sudden it seems that while you’re still living a somewhat healthy lifestyle the weight is coming back. Now what? How can you avoid this seemingly inevitable slip backwards? Read on!

Research has shown that over 80% of those who lose weight actually gain it back (and then some) within two years. This doesn’t just take a toll mentally, but it also causes our body physical harm. Not only is the extra weight a health risk, but recent studies have linked the gain-lose-gain cycle to potentially life-threatening conditions, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, depression, heart disease, and cancer. Let’s discuss some ways in which you can prevent this from happening.

First, if get your mind focused, everything else will follow. That’s my number one key to success. That’s my big secret. There are no quick fixes to losing weight. You need to get your head in the game…and keep it there…if you want to maintain weight loss. It’s not easy. We work so hard to take the weight off, so that once a few pounds creep back on, we feel like we just undid everything. That’s not true. Life happens. Maybe we missed a few workouts or deviated from our diet a little, but as long as you keep your mind on the end goal, it won’t matter. Get right back to the gym and to your regular workouts when you can. Be stricter with your diet after those events pass. Everything will eventually fall back into place.

If I’ve learned anything over a lifetime of yo-yo dieting and weight struggles, it’s that deprivation is almost always the root of all evil with weight loss. Taking out the foods that you love will only lead to you binging on them later. I always use this rule of thumb: wait a half hour (or the length of one TV show). If you still want that snack/food, have a little. It will be better than eating twice as much later on. Also, consider having your favorite “unhealthy” snack as a treat rather than a cheat. People will often feel guilty when they think of themselves “cheating” on their new healthier lifestyle. If you look at is as a treat, you will look forward to it and there will be less guilt afterwards. Be sure to control your portions; just because it’s a treat meal doesn’t mean you should go nuts. Indulge a little, but still practice moderation. When in doubt, opt for a healthier version of your favorite “unhealthy” food. Almost everything has a healthy alternative. For example, choose guacamole or salsa rather than queso or another dip. Select frozen yogurt or protein based ice creams instead of the more fattening brands. Try to cook or bake your favorite foods so you can control what goes into it. You can create healthy options which may not be the actual food you are craving, but they are satisfying enough to have the same effect. Get creative! If you genuinely enjoy what you eat, it will make sticking with your plan that much easier.

In addition to diet, you MUST continue working out. It will keep your metabolism moving and keep those extra pounds/inches from creeping back on. Switch up your routine often to avoid plateaus…and boredom. Continue to set goals for yourself, even if you’ve already lost weight and/or accomplished the original goal(s) set for yourself. Setting small goals and switching your routine will keep you motivated and keep you moving.

An often overlooked key to success is the importance of surrounding yourself with positive, supportive people – people who will lift you up and keep you motivated. Not everyone will understand your journey and that’s ok – after all, it’s YOUR journey not theirs. However, it’s important to your success to have at least one person standing by your side to provide encouragement, especially on those hard days. This will not only keep you accountable, but it will keep your head in the game.

Besides getting your mind right, it’s also important to get your body right too. Schedule an appointment with your doctor and have him/her check your hormone levels. Your hormones control every aspect of weight loss, including your metabolism, where you store your fat, your appetite, and even your cravings. Your stubborn belly fat may actually be caused by a hormonal imbalance, such as high estrogen, low testosterone, low DHEA (a hormone of the adrenal glands), high insulin and high cortisol. It’s also important to check on your thyroid. Monitoring these levels will help keep you on track.

Anyone who has lost a significant amount of weight will tell you that the journey never really ends. It will take time and a lot of work, but eventually you will get to a place where you have never felt freer in your whole life. It really is an amazing thing. So as hard as it is, and as bad as it may seem, know that it really WILL be worth it in the end.

By Gina Stallone



What is flaxseed and where is it found?

Flaxseed is a plant that is rich in fiber, protein, minerals, and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). It also contains fiber and lignans, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. Additionally, flaxseed provides magnesium, copper, and vitamins B1, B2, and B6. To get the maximum health benefits, flaxseed should be ground or it might pass through the GI tract undigested. You can buy it and grind it yourself, or you can buy it already milled. Ground flaxseed is best stored in the freezer to prevent it turning rancid.

.What are the benefits?

People take flaxseed to treat constipation, diarrhea, IBS, diverticulitis, and ulcerative colitis. Some take it to treat diabetes, menopause, high cholesterol, hypertension, lupus, high triglycerides, cardiovascular disease, obesity, ADHD, acne, and some cancers.

Are there interactions with food or medications?

Flaxseed should not be combined with medications that treat hypertension, diabetes or platelet aggregation. Be cautious combining acetaminophen, Lasix, estrogens and antibiotics.

Are there side effects?

Some people may experience digestive symptoms including bloating, gas, abdominal pain, nausea, constipation, diarrhea or dyspepsia. Higher doses of flaxseed increase the probability of symptoms and over 45 g per day is not recommended.

Slim fit girl doing planking core muscles exercise indoors at ho

Keep Your Core Strong

In the world of exercise, the core is a common focus. Often times, we hear about how important it is to strengthen our core and to improve core stability, but what exactly does this mean? The core is made up of much more than the abdominal muscles. In fact, we derive most of the power in the body from the core.  It is imperative to have core strength and stability to prevent injury and to increase performance. Therefore, it is extremely important to understand what the core is and how we can strengthen it effectively.

The core connects the upper body to the lower body and it affects how we move these body parts. It is involved in activities of daily living, such as bending and lifting, sitting properly at a desk, housework, gardening, sports, balance and stability, good posture, and preventing back pain. Weak core muscles can negatively affect your daily functions. With our sedentary lifestyles, most of us have weak cores. We need to continually work at strengthening these muscles.

The core is made up of muscles from the neck and shoulders down to the pelvis. These include the multifidus, interspinales, intertransversarii, rotatores, internal and external obliques, transversus abdonminis, erector spinae, quadratus lumborum, latissimus dorsi, thoracolumbar fascia, and abdominal fascia. Therefore, core training is not as simple as doing sit-ups.  It is important to train all of the core muscles, not just the “abs,” for effective movement. The core transfers force and acts as a stabilizer, which is why it is important to train the core dynamically in all planes of motion rather than in isolation. Therefore, deadlifts, squats, pushups, pikes to pushups, and planks would be much more effective at training the core than sit-ups. These exercises will create more efficient movement and increased strength. Further, the core should be engaged while weight training other body parts in order to develop core strength. It is important to note that many traditional core exercises do not adequately recruit the abs and have been shown to damage the lower back.

Core stability creates efficient movement and proper positioning to prevent injury. For example, if a cyclist reaches too far forward while biking, it changes the position of the hips and pelvis, which affects posture and power. Similarly, while running, tight hips and lack of hip extension can cause the lower back to hurt and affect performance. It is helpful to use a foam roller to decrease inflammation and tension and to prevent restrictive movement before exercising.  Additionally, meeting with a personal trainer to learn the proper form will ensure you are exercising effectively in order to reach all of your fitness goals.

Don’t neglect your core, since it is the foundation for your health and fitness. The stronger the core, the stronger you are and the better you will feel.  A stronger core equals a more solid you!

Please click on this link for some effective core exercises: https://thearenafitness.com/exercise-library/exercise-gallery/images/pdf/exercise_pdfs/3_core.pdf

Body Types

No Body Is Perfect

by Gina Stallone

This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. This year, the theme is It’s Time to Talk About It because it’s time we explore the various eating disorders, shed light on what is normally considered a taboo subject, and discuss the many life-saving resources that exist.

Eating disorders often involve extreme emotions, attitudes, & behaviors surrounding food and weight. They are real, complex conditions, which can have serious consequences for the person’s health and for the various relationships in his/her life. An eating disorder is not a fad or a phase…or even a lifestyle choice. Rather, these disorders are serious and potentially life threatening conditions that affect a person’s emotional and physical health. The sooner a person seeks treatment, the more likely he/she is to recover physically…and emotionally.

Let’s break down a few common eating disorders so you can recognize a problem when and if you see one:

  • Anorexia: A person suffering from this disorder does not eat, or does not eat an adequate amount of calories/nutrients to sustain daily living. By denying the body its essential nutrients, the body is forced to slow down in order to conserve energy. This results in the following: abnormally slow heart rate and low blood pressure, reduction of bone density (osteoporosis), muscle loss and weakness, severe dehydration, dry hair and skin (hair loss is common), fainting, fatigue, & overall weakness. Additionally, Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder.

Atypical Anorexia – A person suffering from this disorder will have many of the same symptoms as those with Anorexia. The difference is the person will exhibit those symptoms without weight loss. They are often within or above normal weight range, making their presentation “atypical.” A person struggling with Atypical Anorexia may exhibit an extreme fear of being fat or of any weight changes and resort to abnormal eating behaviors, such as calorie counting, cutting out certain foods/food groups, avoiding social events and functions that involve food, and more. Many individuals who have Atypical Anorexia may not even realize that they are struggling with a severe and deadly eating disorder, simply due to the weight stigma that surrounds this disease. A person may think, “I am not sick enough to have an eating disorder,” because he/she may be within or above a normal weight range.

  • Bulimia: This is when a person will consume large quantities of food, but often follow eating with self-induced vomiting. The recurrent binge-and-purge cycles of bulimia can affect the entire digestive system. It can lead also to electrolyte & chemical imbalances in the body that affect the heart and other major organ functions. Other health consequences include: potential for gastric rupture, inflammation & possible rupture of the esophagus, tooth decay & staining, chronic irregular bowel movements & constipation, peptic ulcers & pancreatitis.
  • Binge Eating Disorder: Also known as Compulsive Eating Disorder, this involves frequent episodes of consuming very large amounts of food but without behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting. There is often a feeling of shame or guilt which accompanies the binge episodes. Binge Eating Disorder often results in many of the same health risks associated with clinical obesity, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, Type II diabetes, & gallbladder disease.

Many people struggle with body dissatisfaction and sub-clinical disordered eating. Research shows that as early as the age of 6, girls start to express concern about their own weight and that an estimated 40-60% of girls ages 6-12 are concerned with becoming too fat. 35-57% of adolescent girls engage in crash dieting, fasting, self-induced vomiting, diet pills, or laxatives. In fact, approximately a half million teenagers struggle with eating disorders or some sort of disordered eating. In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life.

There are various ways in which we can help to prevent eating disorders. Take steps to educate one another, challenge the “ideal” way to look, and spread the word about eating disorders as a whole. Genuine awareness will help avoid judgmental attitudes about weight and about food.

First, educate yourself about the body and food. This will help set a positive example for a healthy and balanced relationship with food. It is important to be healthy and not to talk about or to behave as if you are constantly dieting. Avoid categorizing foods as good versus bad, and just learn optimal ways to eat. Food should be used as fuel to power your body and to provide the essential nutrients needed for daily living. Strive to achieve a healthy balance within your diet…and within yourself.

Remember that there is no ideal or perfect body. Challenge the false belief that “thin is in.” Every person’s body is different. Weight and/or body type does not determine anything about a person’s character or personality, so there should not be any preconceived notions indicating otherwise. We need to love ourselves and our bodies and appreciate all of our good attributes instead of comparing ourselves to an impossible ideal.

Along these lines, we need to educate children in order to help them accept and enjoy their bodies. We should encourage healthy, balanced eating while encouraging physical activity. Convey the message that weight and appearance are not the most critical aspects of their identity and self-worth.  Be sure to always promote and celebrate body positivity while encouraging an open & safe place for dialogue. Many warning signs for eating disorders can appear before puberty. Watch out for things such as refusing typical family meals (or skipping meals entirely), or commenting negatively about themselves or others, such as “I’m too fat; she’s too fat.” Also, pay attention if clothes shopping that becomes stressful, if they withdraw from friends, or they show signs of irritability, depression, and any signs of extreme dieting, bingeing or purging.

Remember, a person can suffer with eating disorder tendencies regardless of their size, shape, or weight. If you have found yourself struggling with abnormal eating patterns or unusual thoughts when it comes to your body and food, be sure to talk with someone you trust. If you think someone you know is struggling with any type of disordered eating, express your concern in a caring manner. Be firm but compassionate and definitely encourage the person to seek professional help. After all, life is too short to spend another day at war with yourself.




National Eating Disorders Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2017. <http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/>.


The War on Women’s Bodies | National Eating Disorders Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2017. <https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/war-womens-bodies>.

Saw Palmetto

Saw Palmetto

What is saw palmetto and where is it found?

Saw palmetto is a plant found in Florida and the southeastern US. The fruit of the plant is used to make medicine in capsules, liquid, tablets, and tea.

What are the benefits?

People take saw palmetto to treat BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) and prostate cancer. Others use it for its diuretic, sedative, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory benefits. Some take saw palmetto to treat colds, asthma, hair loss, and migraines while others take it as an aphrodisiac and to increase libido.

In combination with other herbs, saw palmetto is used to treat prostate cancer.

Are there interactions with food or medications?

Saw palmetto should not be taken with oral contraceptives or anticoagulant/anti-platelet medication.

Are there side effects?

Some people report dizziness, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, or headaches. Pregnant and lactating women should avoid saw palmetto because it may affect hormone levels in the body.

FIGHT TO BE FIT! – Bootcamp Class


Bootcamp Class

March Madness Offer: $10/class
Every Tuesday & Thursday at 7 am & 7 pm

Meet the instructor, Gina Stallone

Losing weight is hard…really hard. I know firsthand just how hard this journey can be…but I also know just how AMAZING it feels to finally get it done.
Now I want to help you!
Sign up for my 30-minute total body bootcamp
& let’s Fight to be Fit together!

Contact Gina Stallone – gina@thearena.fitbootcamp

Overeat Greasy Foods

Silencing Your Food Noise

By Gina Stallone

So you overdid it this past weekend…and now you are fighting that annoying voice inside your head which is telling you how bad you are for eating those things. You probably hear that loud voice every time you pick up a sweet or fattening food. That same voice may even tell you that to compensate for your “bad meal,” and you have to now spend hours sweating it all out in the gym. Well, that’s your food noise.

SkinnyGirl creator and best-selling author, Bethenny Frankel, made food noise famous. She defines food noise as the irritating, obsessive voice inside our heads constantly telling us about what we ate, what we didn’t, that we were good for not eating something, or bad for eating something decadent.

Food is often linked to emotions, rather than a means for survival. Once we learn to separate the two, the food voice can emerge. Your food voice helps you decide what it is you really want and when you want it…and tells you that it’s okay to have it all, but not all at once.

It’s okay to have the things we love in moderation. After all, deprivation is one of the biggest reasons weight loss fails. If we deprive ourselves the ability to have a scoop of ice cream or a few nachos, then we end up binging on them, which is much worse.

All too often, we find ourselves obsessing over food. We count calories, track macros, and agonize over every bite of food we take. It even leads us to become obsessed with burning off those extra calories. Instead of a normal workout, people go extra “hard” and eat less than the norm in order to undo one bad meal or one bad day of eating…which is actually unhealthier than the meal itself. It truly is ok to treat yourself from time to time.

People are always asking me how I’ve kept the weight off and what my secret is. Truthfully, there is no secret. I still struggle every single day. I have to watch what I eat and be very diligent about my workouts…or I WILL gain the weight back. I follow a mostly clean diet, not just for the sake of keeping the weight off, but to keep my stomach issues at bay. I would be lying if I said I was strict. I have a terrible sweet tooth. I’ve learned that it’s better to allow myself things within reason. My past experiences have proven that depriving myself of the things I really crave will only lead to a downward spiral and undo all of my hard work. I have learned to stop obsessing and to start enjoying my food, and you can too!

At the end of the day, one of the biggest lessons that you learn during your weight loss journey is that it’s more mental than it is physical. Sometimes, we are our own worst enemy , and we often stand in our own way. Once we get out of our own way, we can open the door to so many more possibilities and pave the way for an amazing journey.

Sweaty Person

Don’t Sweat It!

People exercise for many reasons. Whether it is heart health, weight loss, balance, or stress relief, there is a common misconception that you have to sweat in order to have a productive workout and to see results.  In fact, many people feel that it is a waste of time to exercise if they don’t break a sweat! However, you can still get a great workout and see changes in your body without drenching your clothing.

The human body sweats to regulate body temperature and to cool the body down. During exercise our heart rate and blood pressure increase, which can also cause the body to sweat. In general, men sweat more than women. Some research shows that the more fit you are, the more you sweat. Additionally stress, hormones, genetics, and environmental temperature are factors that affect the rate of perspiration.

Sweating is not directly correlated to the amount of calories burned, and it does not determine whether or not you achieved your workout goals. A good workout should be defined by the duration, intensity, and load of the workout – for both aerobic and resistance exercise.  You can improve muscle tone and strength, improve balance and posture, fix motor problems, increase core strength, and improve endurance without breaking a sweat! For example, pilates, yoga, and strength training with weights are all great for improving muscle tone and endurance. However, most of the time, sweating is kept to a minimum during these activities.

Breaking a sweat occurs more often during a cardio-intensive workout, such as running or spinning.  Aerobic workouts are great for your heart health and they do burn calories as well as help with fitness and weight loss. However, these workouts do not build a substantial amount of muscle and therefore do not increase metabolic rate. A combination of aerobic and resistance training is the best way to reach optimal fitness and weight loss goals.

It is important to understand that you do not have to kill yourself for hours each day sweating profusely to look and feel great. It is great to work up a sweat during a workout, but you do not have to sweat profusely every single session! It is much more important to make sure you are activating the proper muscle groups and using correct form in order to prevent injury and to move efficiently. This will enable your muscle groups to work properly and therefore will help you strengthen them appropriately. This, in turn, will give you the body you want and help you to reach all of your fitness goals.

Arena Heart Healthy Tips (1)

Heart Healthy Habits

February is American Heart Month, which focuses on the prevention of cardiovascular (or heart) disease. Cardiovascular is a term which relates to the heart, as well as the arteries and veins that supply our organs with blood. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women, accounting for 1 in 4 deaths in the United States.  Many Americans have at least one risk factor for heart disease such as high blood pressure, obesity, physical inactivity, or an unhealthy diet. Your risk also increases with age; however, regardless of age, it is NEVER too early to start practicing heart-healthy habits. Here are a few steps you can begin implementing at any age:

  • Check your family history. Ask family members if they have had heart disease or any risk factors for it. If the answer is yes, you have an increased chance for developing the disease will go up so it’s definitely important to learn the information sooner rather than later.
  • Smoking will double your risk for heart disease and stroke. Avoid all smoke, including second hand. Plus smoking combined with certain oral contraceptives can cause an increase in your blood pressure, so women should be sure to choose their birth control carefully.
  • Know your numbers, such as your cholesterol and blood pressure, which will impact your heart health. Visit your doctor regularly to monitor both of these. As we age, it becomes increasingly more critical to monitor changes in our body so make sure to get those regular checkups and screenings.
  • Excess weight increases the heart’s work. It also raises blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and triglyceride levels while lowering HDL (good) cholesterol levels. It can also make diabetes more likely to develop. By losing as little as 10 pounds, you can lower your risk for heart disease.
  • Follow a healthy, balanced diet & exercise regularly. As we age, our dietary needs, as well as physical limits, may change. However, regardless of your age, making smart food choices and keeping yourself active will insure a longer lifespan. A good rule of thumb is to follow these guidelines:
    • Eat more fruits & vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, poultry/fish, and nuts.
    • Avoid red meat, as well as sugary and processed foods, and foods high in sodium.
    • For overall cardiovascular health, the AHA suggests 30 minutes of aerobic activity, 5 days per week along with muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days per week.
  • Regular physical activity can relieve tension, anxiety, depression & anger. Exercise increases the flow of oxygen, which directly affects the brain. Long term stress will cause an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, which can lead to damage of the artery walls. Find ways to reduce and/or manage your stress at home and at work. Practice stress management and relaxation techniques. A stressful situation will almost always cause your quality of sleep to decline, which can also impact your heart health.
  • Part of living a heart-healthy lifestyle is also dependent on getting enough sleep. People who don’t sleep enough are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease—regardless of age, weight, smoking and exercise habits.Studies show that adults who sleep fewer than six hours per night are about twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack as people who slept six to eight hours per night. Good-quality sleep decreases the work of your heart, as blood pressure and heart rate go down at night. Lack of sleep can also increase insulin resistance, a risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Making small adjustments to your daily routine will dramatically improve your overall quality of life. Remember – it’s never too early!! Take action today so you can look forward to a healthier tomorrow!

by Gina Stallone



What is kombucha and where is it found?

Kombucha is a white or black sweetened tea fermented by a colony of bacteria and yeast commonly called SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). The SCOBY complex of bacteria resembles a mushroom in appearance, which has led to the nickname “mushroom tea.” Kombucha is high in acid and can contain caffeine, some alcohol, and vinegar. It contains sugar, B vitamins, antioxidants and other chemical compounds.

What are the benefits?

Kombucha has a reputation for having probiotic benefits, but only in the raw or unpasteurized state. Many claim kombucha helps with digestion and detoxification while some state it helps with sleep. People take kombucha to decrease symptoms of PMS, for memory loss, to increase metabolism, to strengthen the immune system, for weight loss, and to treat cancer, constipation, hypertension, and arthritis. Kombucha has not been highly researched and there is not much scientific evidence to support the purported benefits. Most of the benefits have been shown in animal studies and based on personal reports.

Are there interactions with food or medications?

People taking medications for diabetes should not take kombucha since it has been shown to lower blood glucose.  Since it has alcohol and may not be pasteurized, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems should avoid the beverage.

Are there side effects?

Kombucha can cause nausea, vomiting, stomach problems, jaundice, head and neck pain, and yeast infections. Death has been reported from ingesting kombucha that was contaminated during home preparation.