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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Rest and Recovery: The missing link

The importance of rest and recovery has been overlooked in the fast paced world of exercises, fitness, body image, and performance. It's what you do outside the gym that really matters!

The body heals when one is sleeping. Therefore, a lack of sleep (rest) leads to more of a breakdown in muscle tissue causing injuries (micro- tears) that creep up as we get older. For example, sitting at a desk 8+ hours a day, for 30+ years can lead to a chronic shortening of important muscles. By that time, the typical person has experience neck/shoulder/back/hip and/or knee pain of some sort. They decide on starting an exercising program because they've been told by their doctor to do so.

Without the knowledge of when to rest, one would try to do as many reps and sets as possible, or walk numerous miles, or try intense fitness classes to accomplish unrealistic goals. This isn't ideal because it leads to major injuries in the body down to the

Here is an ideal schedule to use when starting an exercising program:

Weight training:
2-3x weekly with moderate size weights
Choose exercises that strengthen your hips and back
10-12 reps / 3-4 sets / rest: 1-2 mins between sets

Endurance Training:
Run/walk 1-4 miles within the first 4 weeks, only increasing 20% each week.
Run/walk between 2-4x a week.
Swimming is a great alternative if you have back or knee pain
Biking is great, but not if you have back pain
Don't forget to include weight training to strengthen muscles.

Fitness Classes:
Choose low impact classes at first (yoga, Pilates, water aerobics, etc).
Cardio classes are great for burning calories (kickboxing, boxing, zumba).
High impact classes come with high risk- high reward factors (crossfit), be careful.
Take 2-3 classes a week.
Mix them up monthly to see which instructors and classes you like.

As you see the most any beginner should start with is 3-4x a week if they are strength training or doing endurance training. That leaves at least 72 hours of rest! Please use that time wisely to focus on sleep and nutrition, the other building blocks in recovery.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Understanding the Basics of Fighting Belly Fat

We have all heard the familiar mantra that diet and exercise is the way to address belly fat. While those two factors play a key role in the equations there are others that are just as critical for fighting belly fat.
 Here are several of the main fighting factors:

  • Getting enough fiber (complex carbohydrates)
  • Quality lean protein (.5 to 1 grams per pound of body weight) 
  • Plenty of Water 
  • Proper consistent rest 
  • Effective stress management 

Keeping these simple, yet challenging to maintain factors, in mind will help you break though belly fat barriers.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Active Isolated Stretch

I've have the best opportunity to take the 32 hour Active Isolated Stretch seminar in Bradenton, FL. It consisted of four consecutive 9 hour days of hands on learning with the infamous, Aaron Mattes. This guys has written numerous books on how increasing flexibility leads to a decrease chronic conditions and cardiovascular disease. Most artificial joint replacements are unsuccessful, and other surgeries that claim to fix a symptom only create other problems. Medical science is failing the general population, and it's up to the therapist, trainers, and other allied health professions to bring back the hands-on approach. Active Isolated Stretch is a technique, where the trainer assists the client through a ROM (stretch) while giving a 2 second assisted stretch at the end range. Afterwards, the client relaxes the muscle and does the same stretch into a new ROM. Does it hurt? One should not experience no more than mild discomfort. Individuals say they have "tears of joy". I have been practicing my technique for 3 weeks now, and I must say it has given me great results. First, I should tell you about my history: I was in a car accident while doing clinical rotation in graduate school in 2007. I sustained whiplash on the left side of my neck, which radiated down my arm. I have suffered with the pain ever since to where I couldn't sleep on the left side. Physical therapy, massage, foam rollers, pain meds, would only give me 2-3 hours of relief. I thought I would have to live with the pain, and eventually get cortisone injections. But none of those techniques gave enough effect to change the pain cycle of what was triggering the muscle to spasm in the first place. Due to poor circulation (oxygen), poor flexibility, and lack of strength will cause a muscle or joint to become dysfunctional. Dysfunction causes pain, and then the body starts to compensate for the lack of movement. Next thing, is "bone on bone" arthritis, tendonitis (which is what I have), or other chronic conditions. I was going to a seminar to learn how to treat my clients, not myself. While some student were practicing on me, my left shoulder/neck started to flare up again. Once Aaron Mattes, took me through 4-5 different stretches and gave a slight manipulation, I was pain-free! No joke. It was like magic. I knew right then, that this was something everyone should experience. All my clients have some sort of pain (that's why they hire me), and its my job to help them out. Here are some videos of what I was learning. Once I become proficient I'll load some of myself:

Monday, December 16, 2013

How to curb Holiday Drinking

Can I drink and lose weight?

It’s that time of year, when friends and family gather and alcohol is involved. It’s hard to say “no” when that is one of the reasons everyone is gathering in the first place. But, when you’re trying to lose weight, alcohol becomes your number one enemy. Alcohol is what we call “empty calories”. Meaning, it has no nutritional value and can be very high in calories. Not only that, the body sees it as a toxin, and will do whatever it takes to get rid of it as soon as possible. Your liver works overtime to process the waste as it absorbs in the bloodstream. Sometimes, the balance is tilted and more alcohol enters the body faster than the liver can process it, and that’s when we run into trouble. Essentially, it stops all other metabolic processes and digestion of other foods that we may have eaten earlier, and stores it. This leads to bloating, weight gain, poor decision making, visual imparities, slurring, etc.
The abundance of calories in the drinks is what directly affects your weight loss. When your body is too busy processing the alcohol, it leaves the carbohydrates and fats to stay stored in your body converting to permanent body fat.
Here are examples of typical drinks that are served at parties and the amount of calories they consist of:
20- ounce beer- 250 calories
One glass of Red or White wine- 120 calories
Margarita- 270 calories
1.5 ounce shot of scotch- 112 calories
1 ounce shot of vodka- 100 calories
Cosmopolitan - 230 calories
So what should I drink? If, I have to!!
Well, if you want to indulge in a drink (or two...), according to the above chart, wine or vodka with a club soda and lime is your best bet.
Happy Holidays! and Happy New Year!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Yummy Summer Recipe

Summer Vegetable and Corn Sauté 
*Quick and easy summer sauté- Add Tofu or Chicken for added protein
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup chopped green onions (about  3-4)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup sliced fresh okra (about 4 ounces)
1 cup chopped red or yellow bell pepper (about 1)
1 finely chopped seeded jalapeño pepper
1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
1 ½ cup of either green beans or snapped peas (fresh is preferred)
1 (15-ounce) can of low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro
1/8 teaspoon salt (sea or conventional)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Begin by heating oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat.
Add onions and garlic; sauté 1 minute
*If adding Tofu or Chicken add now- cook each according
 Add okra; sauté 3 minutes
Then reduce heat to medium
Add bell pepper and jalapeño; cook 5 minutes
 Add corn; cook 5 minutes.
Stir in beans; cook 2-3 minutes
 Stir in cilantro; sprinkle with salt and black pepper

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Building a friendship with each passing mile.

       Much has been written about the benefits of running with friends but I have to admit, I never totally bought into it. I was always content in the fact that running was my solace for the demands of everyday life. What I did when I needed me time. After years of running occasionally with groups and sporadically with friends it has finally hit me.It was not just about how many miles I ran or what pace I was at for each distance but the sharing of the experience. I am not speaking about race day; that can be a different story. I am referring to training and general fitness running.

I had begun to wean in my running schedule and found my runs far less fulfilling. Then a cyclist friend came to me and expressed interest in triathlons but they had not run, in there words, in years. Suddenly, I found myself more focused during our runs and developing greater motivation. There were runs where we spent the entire run decompressing, other had fewer words but the sound of our footsteps. I not only increase my mileage, boosted my running enjoyment but I built a deeper, and invaluable friendship that has extended past the pavement.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Running for life or death?

       As an endurance athlete, I was startled by the Wall Street Journal article  "When Running Is Bad for You"/ "One Running Shoe in the Grave". Not only because of it's alarming title; it struck a nerve within me as well as cause quite a stir in my running group.  The article was also brought up by several clients and members of the group, when they asked my opinion on this issue. There where so many in fact, that it prompted me to delve into the article further and attempt to truly understand the potential dangers we face.

        Initially, when I read the article I noticed that all of the photos where of Triathlons which is an entirely different entity then marathon running solely. A slight digression, I know, but an interesting selection by the author.  The primary study referenced in the Wall Street Journal, is an editorial published in the British Journal Heart. The British Journal Heart is an international peer review journal for professionals in the health care field. In a brief, The Wall Street Journal article,  focuses on the new research metrics that are being tested on "Older" athletes, that are not competing solely in running events.The author discusses how previous research measured primarily the number of deaths during races. While the new research focuses on the negative impact it has on the longevity of runners as they age, specifically those who run over 25 miles a week.  The article included an opinion from two different Sports Cardiologist, one of which authored the paper. The other cardiologist, is a former elite marathon runner, opposes the new research. He believes the researchers are "manipulating the data" as well as strictly focusing there research on association as a runner. Thus, overlooking other potential causes for the negative findings like, pre-existing conditions or diseases. While both sides of the research have valid points, for me the article comes down to reconciling in some way my conflicting passions.  I will have to both agree and disagree with the findings. Tempering my athletic brain with my training profession, so that can both advocate caution to some while, half heartily accepting them for my own training philosophy.

      At the end of the day for me; running/training goes way beyond what health benefits I receive; it speaks to my soul. Every time the ever popular "GO" word is uttered it ignites my competitive drive and urges me forward even when the finish line is invisible.