Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Don't be a Bump on a Log...

Do you have a desk job? If so, do you make a conscious effort to get up from your desk and move?

I have this conversation with clients frequently  because even if you're exercising everyday you still need to get up and move throughout the day. Doing 30 minutes, even an hour of exercise before or after work is great, but then often at work we sit for 6-8 hours without moving at all.

The Washington Post just ran a great piece with an info graphic to help explain some of the hazards of prolonged sitting. Some of which include heart disease, colon cancer, brain fog etc. I understand that not everyone can be as active as they wish in their workplace, but there are a couple of really easy ways to move more without breaking a sweat or making your boss angry!

1. Stand up every time you take a drink.

2. Stretch your quadriceps every time you go to the restroom. If you're drinking enough water this should be several times throughout the work day.

3. Take the stairs rather than the elevator.

4. Set a timer and try these stretches at your desk every 40 mins.

Implementing some of things may not only reduce your risk for health complications associated with prolonged sitting, but you may also loose some weight! Read here for more info and a fantastic research article.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Using Accountability to Our Advantage

As a trainer we take on many roles in our clients lives. In addition to teaching exercises, anatomy, and programming workouts; we talk about nutrition, water intake, sleeping habits, relationships, work, kids, self esteem, etc, but one of the most important aspects of personal training is accountability. I love what I do and I believe that the quality of each workout matters, but I also recognize that accountability is responsible for a large portion of a clients results!

Even some of the most self motivated individuals could benefit from someone holding them accountable every now and then. Most of us know what we "should" do, (this applies to most choices in life) but often we need someone to hold our feet to the fire. 

How can we use accountability in our lives outside of personal training to help us make the "right" choices?

1. Define your goal. (even if it's simple, I needed someone to hold me accountable to flossing every night, not just most nights, but every night!)

2. Start telling people about it (if you don't feel comfortable sharing it with everyone, write it down).

3. Think about why this "thing" is hard for you to stick with on your own and how someone could possibly support you. Brain storm some strategies.

4. Decide what your schedule is for checking in and if you need someone to be "your person." Talk to them about a plan. (i.e: if I don't bring Seth a piece of floss so that we can floss together by 9pm, he goes and gets one for me).

I know my flossing example is lame, but I want to make it clear that it doesn't have to be big thing. I also want to emphasize that no victory is too small to celebrate. All of these little "wins" like flossing every day, or drinking enough water help us bolster our confidence to take on the bigger challenges in life. Sometimes we weigh ourselves down with self doubt and guilt of past choices, but to improve our odds at achieving the things we find most challenging we must have faith in ourselves, a support system and a PLAN! Go get those dreams using accountability to your advantage!! 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Will You Gain 10lbs This Year?

Ever get that sleepy feeling around 3pm? You’re not alone, that’s your body’s circadian rhythm talking.

Most adults circadian rhythm dips and rises at two different times, so adults' strongest sleep drive generally occurs between 2:00-4:00 am and in the afternoon between 1:00-3:00 pm. There is some variation depending on the lifestyle choices of the individual, including sleeping and waking hours as well as eating habits. The sleepiness experienced during these dips may be more or less intense depending on whether they’ve had adequate sleep in previous days.

(The circadian biological clock is controlled by a part of the brain called the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN), a group of cells in the hypothalamus that respond to light and dark signals. From the optic nerve of the eye, light travels to the SCN, signaling the internal clock that it is time to be awake. The SCN signals to other parts of the brain that control hormones, body temperature and other functions that play a role in making us feel sleepy or awake.
In the mornings, with exposure to light, the SCN sends signals to raise body temperature and produce hormones like cortisol. The SCN also responds to light by delaying the release of other hormones like melatonin, which is associated with sleep onset and is produced when the eyes signal to the SCN that it is dark. Melatonin levels rise in the evening and stay elevated throughout the night, promoting sleep.)[1]

In a perfect world we would sleep when it’s dark and wake when it’s light, providing our bodies with 8-10 hours of quality sleep per night. Unfortunately, for many people this is quite a challenge because of work, kids, school, etc. Adequate sleep is essential to overall health and that can not be emphasized enough. The impact of not getting enough sleep is no laughing matter.

Based on this study having a disrupted biological clock can promote weight gain of 10 pounds per year due to a decreased metabolic rate and slowed secretion of insulin. Thereby increasing health risk for type 2 diabetes and obesity. So the question is how do we avoid the side effects of a sleep deficiency or disrupted sleep cycle?

1. Aim for quality sleep by creating a ritual for yourself. Limit light exposure before bed (no TV, or computer screens) before bed, make sure your room is temperate (somewhere between 65-70 degrees) for optimal sleep.

2. Make your room is DARK and/or invest in a sleep mask. This will also be helpful in taking naps when your body really needs one. The best time to nap is between 1-3pm because of our circadian rhythm.

3. Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evenings, when the effect of either wear off  your body will wake you. “Alcohol consumption, in excess or too close to bedtime, diminishes the quality of sleep, often leads to more waking throughout the night, and lessens time spent in REM sleep and slow wave sleep in the later part of the night, the deepest and most restorative phase of sleep.”[2]

4. Exercise during the day to fatigue your body,  most people find that on days they exercise the sleep better!

Life can make it challenging to get enough quality sleep, and if you can’t sleep “normal” hours because of work it can be very difficult to stay motivated to achieve your health and fitness goals. Implementing some of the above strategies can help you to prioritize getting more quality sleep and doing so should help you reach your goals with gusto! If you need more help talking through your sleep strategies let’s talk!

[1] http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-topics/sleep-drive-and-your-body-clock
[2] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-michael-j-breus/alcohol-sleep_b_2616487.html

Friday, January 17, 2014

Giving Blood

When's the last time you donated blood?

Maybe you've never donated before, but if you're open to it now may be the time to start. I hadn't donated in 4 years, but I donated this week and it was a great reminder of how important blood donation is!

Giving blood is good for you and recipient and depending on your blood type your blood may be in high demand to save lives. If you're interested in donating it's easy to call and make an appointment at Blood Source location near you, it will only take 30-45 minutes and you'll be on your way. Let me know how it goes!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Lean Body Diet & Workout

It's January and everyone is looking to clean up their act; by act I mean diet and exercise regime.
I get asked all the time how to get leaner (lose body fat). My first response is to clean up your diet (1), my second piece of advice is to encourage moving more and in a variety of ways (2).

1.) Eat real food. DO NOT start a juice cleanse or "diet." Both of those may "work" in the short term, but if you're really ready to see your body change you have to think long term. Start by making small sustainable changes, adding more vegetables to your diet to crowd out the bad, then start cutting added sugars, maybe then look at your protein consumption and quality of the sources. There are so many thing you can do to improve you diet that it can be over whelming. Give yourself a week to feel comfortable and confident in each change you make. You'll also be able to use this time to key in to the way your body feels....some changes have drastic affects on the way we look and feel, so listen to your body!

What is real food? Avoid processed foods, even ones advertised as good for you. (diet soda, cold cereal, bars, etc) Focus on veggies, protein, high quality fats, fruit and water.

2.) Moving could be taking your dog for a walk, cleaning the house, or actually setting aside time for a workout.

If you're already doing all those things and still struggling to lose body fat you may need to examine the type of exercise your doing and what it does to your hormones. Hormones play a key role in body composition and we want our bodies to have a healthy ratio of muscle to fat. To burn more fat we need to build/maintain muscle mass through exercise and diet so let's look at a couple things that we can do help us burn more fat.

- Strength Training (Think core lifts, dead lifts, squats, pressing etc) (encourages growth hormone & testosterone for healthy muscle growth... the more muscle you have the more calories your body will burn, even at rest.)

- Interval Training (aka HIIT) (elicits increase in caloric burn and EPOC)

- More Sleep (essential in hormone regulation)

- Consuming balanced, high quality meals at the appropriate time. (Long periods of time without food can lead to overeating. Eat your meals throughout the day to maintain energy and satiety.)

- Prioritizing WATER, FIBER, HEALTHY FAT and adequate PROTEIN consumption for your body weight and activity level.

If you're doing all of these and still struggling let's talk!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Take on 2014 with Perfect Posture

As a trainer I spend my days teaching people how to move better. Something I can't stress enough is how important our posture is. When we're not in the gym we're defining our posture by the way we carry ourselves. Our muscles are developing based on the way we stand and move in our everyday life, our posture is our foundation for all other movement. If you're posture is bad you probably move pretty poorly, if you're posture is good you probably move pretty well. There's a lot of grey area in both good and bad posture, and even when you're posture is good there's always things you can do to make your posture better!

One of my goals and something all my clients will be working on in 2014 is improving general posture and our ability to squat deeply with a neutral stance (feet under hips, toes pointing forward) while keeping chest up. This sounds "doable" right? The best part about this goal is that it's measurable and by achieving a better bottom position on your squat we'll have lots of auxiliary benefits like increased range of motion (ROM) of hip, knee, and ankle joints. Improvement in ROM can make you better at yoga, strength training, etc. Best of all it's likely to decrease risk for over use injuries and acute joint pain. To achieve better posture and ROM you need to increase you're body awareness, pay attention to the way you stand, sit, sleep, and move. Here are a couple things to think about:

1. Standing: When you stand think about pulling your shoulder blades down and back, align your shoulders and head over hips and hips over heels. Gently squeeze your glutes (bum) and pull up through the arches of your feet.

2. Feet: Try to decrease the angle between and heel and toe (stop wearing heels and high support shoes) do this gently by strengthening your feet walking barefoot when at home, think about creating an arch with your feet with your body weight distributed about the foot. Our feet have lots of muscles in them and require conditioning too!

3. Walking: Try to walk with your toes pointing forward (not turned out like a duck or in like a pigeon). Contract your abdominals and keep your torso erect. Ensure your head stays over the shoulders and doesn't jut forward.

4. Siting: Sit only when you have to. When you're siting, think about lengthening the spine by pushing the tail bone back. Sit up straight and squeeze between the shoulder blades, lengthen the neck and keep the torso erect. If you have to sit for extends period of time, try to move around and change positions frequently. You can even do some seated stretches!

Starting with these four things will give you a good foundation for better body awareness and posture. In our next post we'll start talking about how to increase ROM and how we can measure our improvement. Another plus to having good posture is that it makes you look leaner, healthier, stronger, and more confident! Happy New Year!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Training For Life

"What are you training for now?"

"What are your goals?"

Sometimes we have clearly identified goals, like competing in an event or achieving a new PR. During these times we do anything to get to our goal,  we make sacrifices and perhaps neglect other parts of our life. That's great in the short term, but what about the the long term? What do you train for between athletic endeavors? And how do you stay motivated and healthy? I like to think of it as "training for life." I call it "preservationist training," and I program workouts with the priorities below:

1. What movements give me the most bang for my buck with the least amount joint degradation?

2. High repetition exercises can be appropriate at times, but variety is key in preserving joints.

3. Form over pace. I'm sick of seeing sloppy work for the sake of the clock, slow down and work smarter, not harder.

4. Active rest days are key. Get out of the gym or your normal training environment and do something different (go for a walk, play in the park etc).

5. Don't be so hard on yourself, relax, enjoy your life, your workout, food and family. Life is short so make sure you find a healthy balance of gym and time for everything else.

To be honest in the past I have beaten my body up with ridiculous amounts of exercise and extreme eating habits. My long term goal is and always has been to be able to continue exercising with a healthy body for the rest of my life, but my actions were diametrically opposed to achieving my goal. Let's keep this from happening to you, be sure to keep a clear view of your long term goals!

In Summary:

Check in with your goals (both long and short term).
More is not always better and take time to explore how less can be more.