It's About Time

If you have ever spent more that 5 minutes with me, it is fairly obvious that I love fitness. I have learned so much (sometimes the hard way) in the 30 years that I have been teaching. What better way to share my passion than to start a blog and pass on the information that I share with clients on a day-to-day basis.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Timpanogos Cave-Spectacular Hike

My husband and I had the opportunity to hike to a popular cave system in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah.  The caves are amazing.  I'm not a big fan of dark, cramped and closed-in places but these caves and their history were incredible.  The Timpanogos Cave is the most famous of this system.  The hiking part was fun.  It is 1.5 miles up with a vertical rise of 1092 feet.  You then shimmy through a cave system and then hike your way back down.  The caves were actually discovered starting in 1887 by Martin Hansen.  I don't know how he ever scaled the cliffs to find the small opening of the first cave but he did.  His son and grandson later found other caves.  Here are a few pics.  I want you to try and enjoy the beauty that I did.  Too bad I can't let you enjoy the fitness aspect of the hike as well.
Ready to begin our weekend hike.

Saw my first rattlesnake.  My zoom hasn't worked since I dropped it in the sand and I wasn't about to lean in closer to get a better shot.  Yikes.  I hate snakes.

Ceiling of one of the caves.

This was called the Heart of the cave

This was the original hole used to access the caves.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Be a Savvy Shopper

Trying to find healthy foods can be overwhelming.  Here are few hints that may help you.

  • Plan Ahead
  • Make a grocery list and stick to it.
  • Consult the MyPyramid guidelines for healthy food choices and also portions.
  • Shop the perimeter of the store.  That is usually where all the meats and produce are sold.
  • The less processed the better
  • If the foods you are buying have more than 5 ingredients, think twice.
  • Read Labels
  • Don't let sale pitches make your decisions.  
  • "Fat Free." or "Sugar Free." isn't always the best choice.
If all else fails. Use flow chart above.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

To Do or Not To Do-That is the Question

Decisions, Decisions

Thanks to the internet, exercise, diet and fitness information is so accessible.  I love the commercials where the people are asked a simple question and they ramble on and on because they are overloaded by all the browsing information.  Sometimes when you look for answers it can be very overwhelming.  An intelligent exerciser is always asking questions and using that information to improve their workouts and their performance.  The problem is that there are so many opinions and answers as to what is the “best” exercise or workout that it can be very confusing.  If you search long enough you could find any data that supports either side of an exercise theory or debate.  How can you make good decisions when it comes to your health? 
  • Consult with QUALIFIED professionals.  Make sure the person you contact is giving you recommendations within their “Scope of Practice.”  Many can make recommendations or share personal stories but they may not be applicable to you or their expertise.
  • Read information from reputable resources.  Be careful of popular magazines that want to promote the latest “trend” or make promises of a skinny body in 5 minutes.   Remember-Check the source of the information to see if they are qualified to know what they are talking about.
  • Keep up on the latest fitness information.  That is a hard one because the industry is ever - changing.  As science improves, the more we apply that information and evolve how we should train. If the information is too technical or confusing, use your qualified trainers to help you sort out information.
  • When choosing an exercise or a workout, base your decisions by weighing out the pros and cons of why this certain program would be good for you.  Avoid hard edge judgments of saying this exercise is “right,” “never,” “best-way,” “contraindicated, “or “wrong.”  An exercise that is good for one person may not be for another.  There is no “One exercise program that fits all.” 
  • Evaluate your exercise choices and make sure that the ones you choose will help you achieve the goals you have set.  Just because an exercise is good doesn't mean that it would be a good choice if it doesn't help you reach your goals.
  • Weigh the risks of an exercise.  Even if the exercise is intense, fun, and challenging, you have to decide if the benefits outweigh the risks.

Effective and safe exercises and programs should be based on an assessment of all the pros and cons of each exercise.  You should weigh the risk vs. the benefits and personalize it to what your goals and physical needs are.  

Thursday, August 18, 2011

You Are Never Too Overweight To Workout

I try and use this blog to answer questions that may come up.  I am glad someone asked me this question: "Where/how can I start to incorporate fitness back into my life when I am overweight?"  There are many ways to fight obesity.  Having the desire and deciding to take steps to make it happen is definitely important.  Any time you introduce a  new exercise program you need to set some short-term and long-term goals and make sure that they are realistic.   Here are some suggestions:

  • Individuals undertaking non-medically supervised weight-loss plan should reduce their calories 500-1000 per day, never dropping below 1200, to promote a weight loss of 1-2 pounds a week.
  • Eat 6 small  meals a day to keep energy levels steady.  Don't starve yourself.   Also don't try and just manage your weight by diet.  Use the combination of diet and exercise to achieve your goals.
  • The recommendation for exercise is 5-6 times a week with the minimum being 30 minutes each day and working up to 60.  "More is better."  Begin with 3 times a week if you are starting from scratch.  
  • Choose activities that you like.  You are more apt to stick with it.  Choose your movement wisely.  If you strain your back or knees with your chosen activity, you may want to look at other options. Anything in the pool is good. Sit on an exercise ball instead of a chair.  Try recumbent bikes or walking/hiking for cardio.  Try Pilates on the reformer.  It is a great exercise tool to take the pressure off the joints and still get a great workout.  It is a preferred choice for me with many of my severely obese clients.
  • Get your family and friends to support you in your ambition.  They can help to motivate you along.
Many things can detour you away from your goals when starting an exercise program.  Some common hold- ups are:
  • I am intimidated to workout in front of others.-Joining a gym can be overwhelming.  You worry about not wearing or fitting into the typical gym attire.  Equipment doesn't necessary accommodate or fit.  You stress about not being able to keep up with a class.  You don't know how to use the equipment.  All of those concerns are valid.  You just have to find the right fit.  
  • Every time I workout I feel more pain.  Exercise selection is key. Choose exercises or equipment that adds less stress to your joints and allows you to focus on your movements.   Additional weight accelerates wear and tear on your joints.  If you don't know where to start, find a qualified trainer to help. They can help you with alignment and exercise choice.
 "The field of biomechanics (the relationship between forces and motion in the body) gives us some interesting information about loads that our weightbearing joints undergo. In the hip and the knee, two joints that are commonly affected by arthritis, joint forces are approximately 1.5 times body weight when walking on level ground. This means that when a person weighing 200 pounds is walking along a level sidewalk, the forces on the joint are the same as for a 300-pound person standing still. Other activities place even greater forces on the joints. Getting up out of a chair increases the force to approximately 2 to 3 times body weight. The same is true of going up and down stairs. With more vigorous activities, such as running or jumping, the forces on the joints can approach 4 to 5 times body weight. For patients who are overweight, this means dramatically increased force on the joints."
Don't be intimidated by this information.  Be empowered by it.  Making a choice for a better quality of life is important.  It is never to late to start.  Know that if you start exercising now you can make a difference and you will feel better.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Muscle Imbalance

Loaded with blossoms

It is only twigs on the left side

Can you now see why I thought of  muscle imbalances?  Duh
I love flowers, love plants,  and love fresh food out of the garden.  Oh how I wish I could have a green thumb.  I try so hard but plants and I have a weird relationship.  Take a look at my pictures and you can see what I mean. A client gave me this beautiful Orchid.  Now look at it.  It does great on one side and the other side just sits there.  What is up with that?  My thoughts after looking at this forlorn plan wasn't about getting directions to the nearest nursery for help-No, No, No.    My mind went straight to muscle imbalances.  It is pretty obvious why isn't it????

Muscle imbalances are a very common reason for injuries or the chronic tics and pains that bother us as we get older.  Our muscles should work together symmetrically to promote ease of movement.  Wouldn't it be great if we could just maintain that balance.  There are many reasons why muscles start to get out of sync with each other.

  • Daily Activities-Carrying a backpack inappropriately, wearing high heals,  slouching in our chairs or just overall poor posture.  All of those things can wreak havoc on our alignment and proper muscle recruitment.
  • Work Environment-It is hard to avoid working.  Many occupations make it hard to have maintain good muscle balance.  Think about hair stylist who have to stand all day.  Dentists who have to lean over to look in people's mouths.  Their work can easily promote muscle imbalances and they need to work to counter that.
  • Workout routine-Have you ever seen the people who only focus on their chest and shoulders and not their back? Basically their palms face outward and their arms sit on the front of their body.  Uggg.  Not pretty.  All their strength and attention is focused on the front or what they see.  Or how about the people who only work their upper body but walk around on chicken legs.  Not good.  Balance people, balance.
  • Injuries-When something is hurt our body tends to favor the part or side of the body affected.  We shift or compensate to alleviate pain.  As the injured part is used less it becomes weaker.  The other side or part of the body picking up the slack gets overused.  Weak and overused is a bad combination.
  • Sport Specific-Many sports promote using one lever more than the other.  Volleyball players tend to hit with their strong arm,  Tennis players tend to serve with the same hand and use the same torso rotation for that serve.  The more we have a dominate side the more apt we are to have a muscle imbalance.
All of these issues can be fixed.  Just being aware that you may be compensating in some way can help you avoid major problems or injuries. Be conscious about balancing everything out. Your body will thank you. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Do You Feel Lucky-Punk-Well Do Ya?

Say the title in a raspy voice and try and intimidate yourself into working out.   Did it work?  Probably not.  Scaring people into working out isn't usually effective and being lucky doesn't  help either.  What does work is you SCHEDULING in your exercise just like you would for any other event, or appointment during the day.  I can't live without my calendar and schedule book.  Every week I write in what I am doing for my work outs just like I would if I were scheduling in a client.  Our planners just keep getting more congested and overbooked.  If we don't prioritize for our fitness, even the best of intentions can get interrupted.  There are several environmental factors that influence whether or not a person adheres to their exercise program.  They are 1) Access to a facility, 2) Social Support, and 3)Time.  A lack of time is the most common excuse for not exercising and for dropping out of an exercise program.   People will always make time for the things that are important to them.  We should all make time to exercise.  You'll  feel better when you do.  You might even feel LUCKY.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Forging Friendships at the Gym

Add caption

Some might think making friends at a fitness club may be hard or even kind of creepy but I can't think of a better place.  You are all going there because you have the same goals-health and fitness.  You struggle with the same scheduling issues when it comes to getting to the gym.  You have the same passions like running, spinning or dancing.   A couple of weeks ago an older gentleman at the club had to go in for emergency surgery on his heart.  He was a long-time member and once people heard, everyone was so concerned.  A card and well wishes spread very quickly.  Yesterday was his first day back.  I happened to be on the treadmill when he walked in doing a killer interval class.   I know people cry on the treadmill and I was tearing up.  It wasn't because it was hard, it was because I saw everyone stop what they were doing to rush over and welcome back their friend.  It was so touching.   I have met some of my best friends at a Gym.  Once those friendships are forged, you help each other to become healthier and I think happier.

  • Friends motivate each other to keep coming.  Some days it is just tough to fit in exercise.
  • Friends support each other.
  • Friends encourage each other when the class is hard.  You can both whine to each other while you finish.
  • Friends schedule their workouts together so they can exercise and visit.  I love running and talking.  It distracts me and make the time go by faster.  
  • Friends listen to each other when they are going through tough times.  Your workout can be very cathartic.
  • Friends offer nice competition.  You can push each other to be better.
  • Friends make it hard to cancel or just not do your workout.  You don't want to let them down.
  • Friends share their successes, their injury issues and killer workout stories.  We can all learn from each other.
I am so thankful for all my workout friends.  You have definitely helped me keep my passion for fitness.  

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Be an active Lounge Lizard

Ninety-Nine percent of American homes have a television.  I have to admit I have several.  I'm not a good sitter but I do have my favorites on TV.  (So You Think You Can Dance is on tonight) I don't think there is anything wrong with watching TV UNLESS you do it too much.  The average adult watches 4 hours of TV a day.  AC Nielsen Co says, "In a 65-year life span, a person will have spent 9 years of that life glued to the TV."  Yikes.  No wonder obesity is on the rise.  The American Journal of Public Health study showed that an adult who watches 3 hours of TV a day is far more likely to be obese than an adult who watches less than 1 hour.  There are so many ways we can tweak our watching hours by just incorporating a few little changes.
  • Don't DVR past the commercials.  Use that time to get up and walk around or do some exercising like squats or upper body work.  I remember using this principle with my kids.  "You can watch your goofy show but every commercial you need to work on your flexibility."  
  • Sit on a stability ball or wobble board while watching 
  • Get up to change the channel.  "Whoa, Whoa, Whoa!" might be your response but ignore the channel changer every once in a while.
  • Avoid watching TV while you eat your dinner.  Use your eating time to be with family and work on the art of conversation.  TV also tends to distract us so we may not realize how much we are eating.
  • Riding a bike (stationary of course) or walking/running on a treadmill while you watch is a wonderful idea.
  • Use your TV for fitness. There are so many workout options available now.
  • Pull out your kids XBOX or Wii and participate in your own Olympic events, bowl, play tennis or whatever your game tells you.  So much fun and you can get your whole family involved.
So if your couch has the exact outline of your body engraved into its cushions, that might be a sign that you sit and watch a little too much TV.    Get up and get moving.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


You can achieve the desired posture you are looking for.  Good posture isn’t necessarily just standing or sitting up straight.  Neutral posture is the position of the body with its natural curves that promotes the least amount of stress on your muscles and joints.  Good posture or structural integrity is defined as that state of musculoskeletal alignment and balance that allows muscles, joints, and nerves to function efficiently (Kendall et al. 2005; Soderberg, 1997) “Good posture has long been considered important, even our language recognizes its desirability.  We may refer to someone who is trustworthy as  being upright or a pillar of the community, whereas spineless tells us the opposite."  Think of good posture as the straight path that leads to longevity and a healthy body.

Common Symptoms of Poor Posture
“My back aches when I stay in one position too long.”
“I don’t like how I look in my clothes.  They hang funny.”
“I get a lot of headaches.”
“I carry a lot of tension in my neck and shoulders.”
“I missed work because of my back pain.”

Contributing Factors to Poor Posture
Work Environment-Many of us do activities in front of our bodies that may promote rounded backs and shoulders
Injuries-movement compensations occur regularly with injuries
Obesity-Muscle recruitment, joint action and even gait are modified with obesity.  Genetically where your body stores fat may also affect your posture.
Weak or deconditioned muscles-Muscle imbalance and overuse enhances risk of injury and discomfort
High-heeled  or ill-fitting shoes
Poor Biomechanics-Improper movement of joints can cause compensation of posture and movement.
Poor Movement habits or patterns-Hiking your hip while carrying a child, carrying a backpack, slouching in a chair can all alter posture and the muscles that control it.

Good Posture Tips
Walk, stand, and sit tall
Lift from your sternum-Be careful not to lift your head.
Be patient-It has probably take you years to acquire the posture you have.
Don’t Tense up-When you stand or sit tall don’t overwork muscles to get there.
Know your postural plum lines-Sagittal and  Frontal plane.

Good Posture Requirements
Good ROM (Range of Motion)
Body Awareness-Know where your body is in space and know how to properly put it there.
Normal Joint Movement
Strong Muscles
Muscle Balance

Benefits to Good Posture
Keeps bones and joints in good alignment
Decreases unnecessary wear on joints
Decreases stress on ligaments
Prevents fatigue from inefficiently used muscles
Prevents overuse and strain of muscles
Promotes confidence
Look good!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Planking Epidemic

Planking at Scout Falls

Side Planks, Ball planks, Supine Planks, Push Up Planks-All of these exercises have been come a standard exercise for your core.  Lately it has been taken to a whole new level.  I've seen several postings of this new craze and I can't resist.  I'm joining in.  I have challenged my family and friends to fall for this crazy idea.  I can't see any harm in it.  You may even get a stronger core while you are at it.  If you have no idea what I am talking about, please click on red links below.

Teach Me How To Plank-Some examples of planking may not be suitable for little kids or my mom. Little ones will probably like the potty talk and my mom hates bathroom humor.

Planking Ideas

Planking at Stewart Falls
I challenge you, your kids, your pets, your boss or anyone to do the plank and send me the picture.  Have fun and be safe.

Scout Falls

Kurt, McCall, Maddy
This Saturday hiking thing has become a fun habit for my husband and I.  We're new to Utah so we have lots of places to explore.  We are trying to push this behavior on our friends and luckily we got some of the Andus' to come with us. Sun + Friend + Fitness + Beautiful Surroundings = Happy and Healthy Life.  I love this kind of math.