Megan Cooper, Author at Studio ME Fitness - Page 5 of 9

Megan Cooper

Take Care of YOU This Holiday Season. Stay healthy both emotionally and physically over the holiday season.

Think exercising, eating whole foods, meditation, yoga, reading, time with friends and family, etc. Does reading this list sound overwhelming? Well, it shouldn’t!


During the holidays life can get chaotic and the first few things to go are exercise and nutrition. How do we fight it?


Plan your schedule ahead of time.  This will help you stay more present and in the moment, focused on what this time of year is really all about. Don’t stress about the things you cannot control such as things like, um, Traffic. I personally don’t drive much so when I get in bumper to bumper traffic I start to stress especially since I am usually running late when this happens. I take a few deep breaths and try to calm myself down.  Remember to belly breath.

Why Self-Care is So Important?

Self-care does not mean selfishness. Remember that! Self-care is about carving time out of your day even if just for 1 minute to think about you. If you don’t take the time for yourself and are constantly putting everyone else’s needs first, how are you going to be a good mom, dad, wife, husband, brother, sister, etc. If you don’t manage yourself it can lead to increased cortisol levels which can impact your waistline, productivity, sleep, and emotional well being.  Most, if not all, aspects of self-care will help to reduce stress levels. Read my post about stress here.


Don’t Let the Holidays Be An Excuse

The holiday season can bring about a whole new set of excuses about WHY you don’t have the time or energy to exercise, prepare your meals, or get to bed at a decent time.  


Understandably you may have more going on this time of year than you do during other months but that doesn’t mean your exercise, nutrition, and other acts of self-care take a backseat until January.  


It’s all about choices! YOU have a choice as to how you handle the “expectations” of the holiday season and how they affect your time and schedule.  Keep in mind that the majority of us put these high expectations on ourselves. Remember,  those that care about us just want us to be happy and healthy.  Letting go of perfection and expectations during this holiday season will allow you to care for yourself in a way that is in line with your needs.  It also allows for a lower stress level and more enjoyment.  Who doesn’t want that?

Self Care Methods

Carve out 30-45 minutes at least twice a week to take a class at Studio ME or your studio/gym.


Foam roll or use your Yoga Tune Up Balls for self massage.  These can be a life saver if you are holding tension in your body.  Take anywhere from 10 minutes a day to roll.  Even if you only do your feet you will feel better. Grab a Yoga Tune Up Ball, a racquetball, or tennis ball and place one foot on top of the ball. Hold it in the arch of the foot and roll it around. The harder the ball the more you may feel it. Start with something softer. Try rolling your feel while you are brushing your teeth. That’s one minute per foot. Hey, it’s better than nothing!
Other methods could be pampering yourself whether its getting your hair done, a massage (oh I love hot stone massages), pedicure or manicure, deep breathing techniques, etc.

Lastly, do It Because You Want To

Set boundaries and learn to say NO. There are always a ton of holiday parties and events going on. It’s OK to say no. That is not selfish at all!  You need to take care of yourself so you don’t get run down. Don’t want to go to a party, say ‘No’. I know it’s hard but you will feel much better.


Set intentions for yourself for the festivities coming up this week and next with the New Year just around the corner. What do you NEED to do and what would you like to do. Focus on the need and then add time for YOURSELF.
Happy Holidays!!!

Stay on track with your meal prep this holiday season

The holiday season can reek havoc on our nutrition and meal prep. With all the treats and chaos it can be difficult to stick to your meal planning and prep so I wanted to share with you some tips to help keep your nutrition in line throughout the holiday season and keep your life simple.

  1. Pick two days a week. One will be your big food prep day and the other will be a mini prep day.
  2. Do your shopping the same day as your big prep day. Food will be fresh!
  3. Make it a family event. It will go faster and can be great bonding time with the fam.

Sunday is a great day for your big prep. Here are a few ideas to get you through the week:

  • Boil eggs. Great for breakfast and snacks when you need a quick protein boost.
  • Roast some sweet potatoes and leave the skin on.  Refrigerate and peal when you are ready to eat.
  • Roast all your veggies. Chop, spread on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, some sea salt, pepper or any other of your favorite spice. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Let cool and store in the refrigerator for the week.
  • Soup. Make a batch of soup. It lasts all week!
  • Bake (or grill) your meat.  You’ll probably want to make around two pounds of meat. Store in the refrigerator. This can make for quick salads or breakfasts.Hope these tips help you during the next couple weeks of holiday chaos! If this doesn’t work for you, try a service like Origin Meals. Everything is done for you and Studio ME is a fridge site so all you need to do is pick up the meals, heat (if required) and eat.  Happy Holidays!

12 Days of Fitness is BACK!

Follow us from December 14 -25th for amazing deals. Some deals will be for new members and some for existing members so make sure to tune in daily to check out the deal.  Oh and I forgot to mention that there is a limited supply of each deal so you will need to act fast! Happy Holidays from all of us at Studio ME.


Get Fit. Give Back.

November 19th we kicked off a monthly charity class program.  Our fabulous instructor, Liz, taught an hour long Yoga Barre class. All proceeds were donated to the Mercy Corps for Syrian Relief.  we have such an amazing and giving community at Studio ME. We had 12 people attend class and raised $300 for this charity. This is just the start of this program as we hope to continue to partner with local charities and make a difference one workout at a time.


Yoga Barre on November 19th. All proceeds were donated to Mercy Corps for Syrian Relief

Please join Liz next month on December 16, 2016 from 5:30-6:30pm for Yoga Barre. Our charity of the month is Pajama Pride.  Sign up for class and donate $25 or show up at the door and donate what you can. Hope to see you in December!

November 2016 Member of the Month – Katie Nalepka

Please join me in congratulating Katie on Member of the Month! Katie has been a member of Studio ME for almost a year and has never looked back.

Katie’s Story:

“It was about a year ago, I had been looking to join a gym. I had my eye on a handful, but one of the deciding factors of checking out Studio ME was seeing an old friend highlighted on Facebook as Member of the Month (Hi Tonya!).  I immediately sent her a note to see what Studio ME was all about, and before the end of the  night, I was signed up for my first three classes and planned on joining Tonya for a Saturday IndoRow class. The rest is history!


Over the past year, I’ve slimmed down and toned up and  have so much more energy than I did before – I have turned into a person that looks forward to my work out! I attribute my continued attendance to not only the variety of classes offered, but how the same class varies from one class to the next – you never know what you’re going to get, which I think is great! My current favorites are Kettlebell Circuit and Total Body Row.


When I am not at the gym, I can be found brunching with girlfriends, experimenting in the kitchen, or doing all. the. car. things with my (new!) hubby! We are co-organizers of a winter car rally called The Polar Run which raises money for local charity. I explain it as a day long scavenger hunt and it is a blast. Last year, as a group, we raised over $30K for our local Ronald McDonald House. This year we have over 40 teams raising money for the Minnesota Masonic Charities, which will be doubling our donations- we’re excited to see what we raise this year!”


Katie is ready for The Polar Run. November 2016 Member of the Month.

Stress. Stress. Go Away!

We all have stress in our lives; some more than others. You owe it to yourself and your health to keep your stress under control.


What is stress?

Stress is our body’s natural response to an event. It can be a response to change, sitting in traffic, watching a scary movie, a public presentation, pressure at work, even getting into an elevator or getting on the rowing machine to row 300 meters in shockwave☺ can cause stress.  Stress really is anything can be caused by anything and everyone is different and has a different response.


How the body reacts

When your body in under a state of stress, or demand, it goes into a fight or flight mode. This releases a surge of hormones including adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones trigger an increased heart rate, breathing, increase your blood pressure, and increase sugars in the bloodstream.

Everyone will experience different reactions to the hormonal changes. Some will experience digestive issues, headaches, migraines, sleeping, depression, anger and irritability. Being in a constant state of stress may run down your immune system and lead you to be sick more often. More severe or negative effects can include heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and other illness.

We can’t escape stress, but the good news is that we can keep it under control.


Just 30mins of exercise a day can help reduce the cortisol levels in your body. You don’t need to work out for hours each day if you are doing the right thing.  Intervals can ensure that you get the most bang for your buck in the shortest amount of time possible. More on this soon.



During increased times of stress or demands it is important to fuel your body smartly.  You’ll want to eat more lean protein, vegetables, and healthy fats.  The right balance of these foods will help keep your blood glucose levels normal so that you can combat the effects of increased cortisol.  The more carbs you eat the more you will crave and the more run down you will get storing those sugars around your mid-section.  I personally like to abide by the 80/20 rule when it comes to nutrition: eat balanced meals 80% of the time and you can have your favorites not so health options 20% if the time. If you turn to high carbohydrate food your body will crave more and you will end up in downward spiral.



In last week’s post we talked about the importance of sleep and shared tips to help you sleep better. See it here. Getting enough sleep, 6-9 hours a night, will help lower cortisol levels in the blood stream.


Restorative Yoga

The practice of Restorative Yoga turns off the flight or fight response and engages the process of rest and digest, inducing a physiological state that is the exact opposite of the stress response and allows the body time and means to return to homeostatic balance. We have a restorative class every other Monday from 7:15-8pm. Sign up today.


Deep Breathing

Abdominal breathing each day will reduce anxiety and reduce stress. Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain.  Breathing techniques help you feel connected to your body—it brings your awareness away from the worries in your head and quiets your mind.

Apple just launched a new ‘Breath’ app for the Apple Watch which reminds you to relax and focus. Every four hours it will remind you to take deep breaths.  You can do this in as little as one minute. If you own an Apple Watch and don’t have this turned on, do it NOW!

For those that don’t have an apple watch try this simple technique. Take five deep breaths with a four-second inhale, and a four-second exhale. This will allow your body to reset.  Watch for more breathing tips from us this week.



Fact sheet on Stress.


Take Back the Night- Put that technology down and your body will thank you.

With the change of seasons comes darker mornings. It’s just not fair! This morning was the first time I noticed the significant change.  I can no longer take my bootcampers outside in the morning unless we were to have a flood light but I don’t think the nearby residents would like that.

We are getting closer to the time of year when many of us go to work in the dark and come home in the dark.  The days will continue to get shorter until the Winter Solstice on December 21st. To help our bodies get through this we need to focus on our sleep.

For the Studio ME crew, we posted in our private Facebook group today a little bit about healthy sleep habits to ensure QUALITY sleep. Let’s take a moment to reflect on the post today…

  1. Sleep in complete darkness. It is important for regulating the circadian rhythm and even small amounts light can throw us off. Remove all sources of light in your bedroom.
  2. Avoid technology for at least 90 minutes before bed. That’s right! Put down that damn phone, turn off that TV, and close your laptop.
  3. Keep your room cool. Best around 65 if you can.
  4. Reduce notice or use an app for some gentle background noise. Try Noisli.
  5. Check your mattress? It affects your sleep patterns more than you think. Make sure you have enough support.
  6. Keep plants in your house to improve air quality.

Bonus tips:

  1. If you wake up in the middle of the night, DO NOT look at the time. When you look at the clock, the dopamine (a neurotransmitter) cascade begins in order for you to remember what you saw.  Those individuals that look at the time when they wake up, on average keep themselves up for an extra half hour.
  2. Avoid coffee and energy drinks. They can really throw your body for a loop.


Now that we have done a quick review let’s get on with it…


How many of you can honestly say that you are getting enough sleep and when I say sleep I mean quality sleep?  Do you wake up raring to go? Or do you hit the snooze once….twice….,maybe even three times before dragging you’re a** out of bed?


For me, sleep is how I decompress from the day. I don’t do well trying to relax or mediate; I just sleep so this is very important topic to me and often overlooked by many of my clients. If you’ve plateaued in your weight loss goals, this could be one of the reasons.


Sleep is SO important for our health, overall well-being, and weight loss.  The focus of a fitness program typically is on exercise and nutrition but let’s face it there is A LOT more to it than that. It is important to pay attention to what your body needs.


The Sleep Foundation published new guidelines. By following these guidelines you can lower your stress and improve your mood, maintain a healthy weight, improve your workouts, and increase your ability to pay attention and remember new information. How are you doing?

  • “Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)
  • Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)
  • Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)
  • School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
  • Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)
  • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
  • Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)”

The Sleep Foundation:

What happens if we don’t get the recommend amount of sleep?


According to T.S. Wiley, author of Lights Out, “There are at least 10 different hormones as well as many neurotransmitters in the brain that go sideways when you don’t sleep enough.”  Melatonin is the tip of the iceberg so to speak.  It is all of the other shifts that change when you don’t get enough sleep such as appetite, fertility, and mental and cardiac health.”


Melatonin is the hormone that helps you to go to sleep and stay asleep.  When the lights are on, your body doesn’t make melatonin.  Instead your body makes cortisol (our stress hormone).  Cortisol then mobilizes blood sugar into the bloodstream as part of the stress response.  This rise in blood sugar calls for insulin to disperse.


When you are mobilizing blood sugar in the hours you should be making melatonin, you are also mobilizing insulin making yourself more insulin resistant.  Insulin resistance causes the blood sugar to get stored as fat around your mid-section.  When you stay up late, even if you are not eating, cortisol is still mobilizing blood sugar out of the liver.  If you stay up, plus eat, that is twice as bad!


We need to “TAKE BACK THE NIGHT,” (I am signing the song as I type this and my husband would be happy as his fav is JT) from lightbulbs, internet, smart phones, television, and computers to improve our health, reach a healthy weight, and reduce our risk for disease. When your body is sleeping its recovering!


Are you ready to TAKE BACK THE NIGHT?


Start practicing those tips I shared above and journal your sleep habits. When you wake up in the morning note how do you feel? What did you do before bed and start to see if you notice a trend and if you can cut out any of those pesky habits.


Those of you that are Studio ME members you are going to get an extra special bonus along with this post. Every day Siri, our fabulous instructor, is going to post one restorative pose that will help you sleep better at night. Try it for one week and report back and let us know how you’re doing?

“Cheat” Meals

Why is it that we use the same word for eating a doughnut and committing infidelity?  What if we stopped using the word cheat to attach morality to our food choices?


CHEAT has a very negative connotation and we can easily internalize that feeling turning it into thoughts of negativity towards ourselves.


Eating a doughnut or a slice (or three) of pizza doesn’t make us a bad person or identify us as being bad. It means we are HUMAN!


Labeling food as cheats can get into our heads and be detrimental in our progress of establishing good habits and mindsets around food.


For a while there I was planning my cheat meals and when I say cheat meals I mean all out baby-think pizza, ice cream or one better, burger, fries and a malt…yum!) and count down the days until I got to eat those things.  More often than not, when the day came didn’t even want it but felt like I had to eat it because I planned for it. I was slowly starting to fine that cheat meals were anti-climactic.


After doing a lot of reading, I started to look at things in a different ligt.


What if you could have any food, any time you wanted as long as you choose to have it?  


I know this sounds really scary and you’re thinking there is no way in hell I can eat what I want when I want but I want you to think about this…


When you are intentional and mindful with your food choices you will discover that most often you don’t even want these “so-called” cheat foods.  Now read it again….go ahead I am waiting…


When you actually “check-in” with your body, you will find that it wants something but a cheat food may not be it.  Instead, your body could be asking for a class of water, rest, or some quiet time.  There is a little trick I use with my bootcamp members…ask yourself these three questions before you dive into those donuts at work just because they are there.

  1. Am I hungry?
  2. Is it smart?
  3. How much do I need?


These three questions have saved me from eating things I really don’t want. When you actually stop to think about it or drink a class of water before you indulge you will find that you may not want it anymore.  Here’s a good read from creator of Tabata Bootcamp™- the Take Three Method for Healthy Eating.


Most of us area already struggling with eating “healthy” and if you are like me, trying to save your cheat days for the weekend.  For the most part, you are CHOOSING to eat protein, vegetables, and healthy fats on a regular basis.  If you are choosing healthy options when you go to reach for those cheat foods you will soon learn how bad it makes you feel after eating them and the nostalgia will wear off. When you actually make a choice to have a latte, pizza, ice cream or in my case my ultimate cheat meal of burger, fries and a malt (my mouth is watering thinking of this) you will enjoy it without guilt or shame and move on. That third question above “How much do I need” is key here.  Everything in moderation!


I really do feel that it is important to get away from using the word “cheat” as it relates to your nutrition choices mainly because of all of the negative emotions and feelings that are associated with it. Who’s with me in changing the way we think about our “cheat” foods?



Member of the Month

Meet Aaron!  Aaron has been working hard in bootcamp and seen dramatic results and all because of his desire to be healither. In just three months he has lost 6% body fat, 4″ on his waist and 25.6 lbs.  Let’s get to know

“Back in March, my wife and fellow Studio ME member Larissa, suggested we join this bootcamp that was being put on. When she told me it started at 5:45 AM, I told her “I’ll think about it”, which is usually code for “No way”.  However, as I thought about it, I was softening. For quite some time, I’ve been wanting to lose weight and just become healthier, and long bike rides on the weekends just wasn’t cutting it. I needed a routine exercise schedule and I know that I actually prefer to exercise in the morning (despite being a night owl), so one day I tell her to sign us up!

I’m pretty sure I felt like I was going to die that first Monday, since I was working so many muscles that haven’t been used in years of working in an office. Slowly however, my muscles became stronger, and weight started to come off.  Couple that with paying attention to how much I’m putting into my body (aka “I think one helping of hotdish is enough”) and I’m excited by the progress I’ve made (even though I’ve still got a ways to go). It makes me want to tell others who have a similar sedentary struggle about how great bootcamp and Megan (and staff) are.  It’s not hard, it just takes dedication and a desire to be healthier.”

May Member of the Month

Meet Michelle.  Michelle has made huge strides in just three months. Please join me in congratulating her and giving her a high five next time you see her.

“When I heard about Studio ME from a coworker in February, I was intrigued — I really didn’t know indoor rowing was a thing, but I was searching for a cross-training opportunity. A longtime bike commuter and sometime endurance biker, my one-sport lifestyle had given me knee problems that were causing misery on and off the bike. Thankfully, by the end of my first Indo-Row I knew I was hooked; this full-body, high-intensity, and low-impact workout was just what I needed.


I just finished up my 12th week as a member and I’m so thrilled about the changes I’m seeing in my body that I feel like a walking infomercial. Lately I’ve been feeling much stronger, and noticing muscle tone and power in places it wasn’t there before — which brings an awesome sense of accomplishment and confidence. I feel stronger and better balanced on the bike, and the knee pain and quad inflammation that were part of my daily life have noticeably decreased. I find myself avoiding stairs less and pushing harder on my commutes, just in time for summer adventures.


Recently I heard someone complaining about the challenge of balancing body positivity with their gym culture, and I had to beam a little about the culture at StudioME. Our focus on personal bests, teamwork, and having fun while working hard has become an island of focus and positivity that I look forward to week after week. I’m so grateful to the awesome instructors and crew that make StudioME what it is!!


I’m looking forward to the coming months: chasing lower split and sprint times, keeping with the foam rolling, getting some serious meters in ahead of my wedding in October, and aiming to be able to join Team Hop Wheels for the MS150 in 2017!”

-Michelle Funk
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