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.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Mummies can testify that you should take care of your body.

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I have mentioned before that I am an archaeology nerd.  For my birthday this year my mom bought me tickets to go see MUMMIES OF THE WORLD on exhibit at the Leonardo Museum in Salt Lake City, UT.  It was amazing.  Of course the Egyptian mummies were so cool but I was amazed at the Peruvian, Hungarian, and German mummies as well.

You  are probably asking yourself, what does my exercise blog have to do with mummies?  I'll tell you.  With  advanced technology such as CT scans, medical imaging and sterolithography we have today we can find out what kind of life style these people led and also what caused their death.  Many lived a very short and hard life.  Exercise was a matter of survival.  They had no choice as to "should I exercise or not today?" or "Where should I go out to eat?"  We do have choices and those choices have a great affect on our health and longevity.

I am so grateful that I have the ability and the opportunity to exercise.  I am grateful for modern science and medicine that enables me and others to live for longer lengths of time.  I am grateful that injuries haven't crippled me and doctors who know how to help fix and correct issues.  I glad to know how to rehab and correct problems.  I am also grateful for the opportunity to view these mummies and appreciate the life that I have and also the era I'm living in.

It is an amazing exhibit.  You should go.  You should also exercise.  I just had to get that in.
Michael Orlovits. His family was discovered with over 265 other mummies in a church crypt in Vac, Hungary.  Construction in 1994 led to the re-opening of the crypt, which had been sealed since 1838.  His son is next to him.  They all suffered from Tuberculosis. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

You can't compete with what you eat.

No matter how hard you exercise you can’t compensate for a poor diet.   You will constantly struggle with you weight but you will also endanger your total well-being.  Even if you are a very active person it is incredibly hard to make up for the garbage you may be putting into your body.  Even if your weight stays and you expend a great amount of calories, you can’t avoid the damage that may come from high sodium, artificial food, cholesterol, carcinogens and other things that people don’t even know the name of.  Poor diet can affect your mood, energy level or even your concentration. 

No one is going to convince me that exercise is bad.  It is proven to reduce the risks of several metabolic diseases and promote better health and longevity in those who consistently work out.  But exercise alone won’t do the trick if you are looking to lose weight.   “A health report by the World Health Organization listed  (in order) tobacco, high blood pressure, alcohol, cholesterol, overweight, low fruit and vegetable intake, and inadequate exercise as the biggest perils to the health of the world’s richest nations.”  Many of these risks are diet related. 

The obesity rate continues to climb.  Portion sizes are 4 times the size they were in the 1950’s.  Adults, on average, are 26 pounds larger now.  There are several things we can do to be successful at controlling our weight

  • ·         Eat smaller portions (fist size)
  • ·         Don’t feel like you have to finish or clean your plate
  • ·         Fill up with water or vegetables
  • ·         Split a meal with a friend
  • ·         Take part of your meal home
  • ·         Choose healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil
  • ·         Track your daily calories
  • ·         Pick nutrient dense-dense foods

The equation to effective weight loss is simple.  More calories out than calories put in.  Regulating your weight by exercise alone will be tough.  The average calorie burn for a Zumba class is 400-500 calories depending on how much you shake and move.  The average burn for a Birkram Yoga class for a 135 lb woman is 750-900 calories for 90 minutes.  Now reflect on a common meal.  A 6 inch Subway  turkey sandwich on whole wheat, small bag of chips, a medium Coke and one cookie will cost you about  980 calories.  You can see how your workout may not be enough.  You have to burn off 3500 calories to equal 1 pound.  You should only lose 1-2 pounds a week if you want to effectively keep it off.   The exercise classes listed above didn't even cover one meal’s worth of calories.

The key to happiness is a good balance of smart nutrition and exercise.  The key to wellness is good nutrition.  Your good nutrition will supply your body with the calories and energy it needs to workout.  It is a wonderful marriage.  Don’t cheat on either one.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Your Warm Up Is An Essential Part Of Your Workout

A warm up is the body’s physical and mental way of preparing for some type of physical  activity or athletic event.  Prior to every workout or exercise session, your body should be prepared for the cardiovascular and muscular challenges that it will be engaging in. 

  • ·         Core temperature-The body in general and more specifically muscles work better when they are warm.  It improves muscle elasticity which in turn prevents injury and strain.  Gradual increases in core temperature adequately allow your body to regulate its temperature by sweating.
  • ·         Increased heart rate-Warm up prepares your heart for an increase in activity and prevents a rapid increase in blood pressure.
  • ·         Rehearsal affect-Your warm up should include movements that mirror a lighter or less intense version of what you will be doing for your workout or athletic activity.  Many warm up exercises will cross over and can be used no matter what event you are participating in but some require specific movement patterns.  Boxers should implement movements in the transverse plane to mimic the rotational efforts that are produced with all the upper body movements.  Dancers should focus on slowly lengthening levers and increasing range of motion.  Volleyball players could incorporate altitude changes gradually preparing for drills that will take them from an explosive jump to dropping down for a dig. 
  • ·         Prepare muscles-To effectively prepare a muscle to lengthen and to contract, the intramuscular temperature should be increased which will improve productivity of muscle contraction and avoid the chance of injury.  Particular movement patterns allow you more muscle control as they are prepared for certain movements.  A prepared muscle can contract more forcefully as well as relax more quickly.
  • ·         Improve range of motion-Movement around a joint is gradually increased as well as lever length. The warm up gently prepares for greater range and increases on the stresses and force demands placed on the joints.
  • ·         Use multi-directional movements-Our body moves in multiple planes and our warm up should include all of them.  Start with linear and then progress to the sagittal and transverse planes.
  • ·         Mental preparation-A warm up allows you to practice how you will move.  It allows you to safely practice what is to come and give you the confidence needed to push your skills when the time comes.  It psychologically prepares you to work out at higher intensities because you have mastered the base movements.

  • ·         Length-This should be dependent on the type and length of the exercise session.   The general guidelines for fitness class are 5-15 minutes.  Specific sporting events will be longer depending on the activity.  Collegiate or professional athletes can warm up to 2 hours before they perform.  Fitness level should also be an indicator of the length of warm up.
  • ·         Type-There is a lot of scientific data on dynamic or active stretching versus static stretching in the beginning of a work out.  Strong evidence is lacking in regards to the benefits of using static stretches in a warm up.  Stopping to hold a stretch will drop core temperature  and heart rate and may also cause trauma to muscles that aren’t ready to stretch.  Warm ups are individual and need to be geared to what you are doing and by what your muscles are requiring to get ready.
  • ·         Appropriateness-Your warm up should not only reflect your type of activity but also the climate you will be performing in.  Cooler temperatures require a longer warm up whereas warmer conditions should be watched so as not to produce premature overheating.

  • ·         Less injuries
  • ·         Leads to efficient caloric expenditure by increasing core temperature
  • ·         Leads to more effective and forceful muscle contractions
  • ·         Your metabolic rate will be temporarily improved because of the increased oxygen demands of the muscle movement.
  • ·         Improved neural  pathway messaging from muscles practicing certain movements
  • ·         Increased blood flow though tissues making muscles more pliable and able to contract
  • ·         Improved coordination, muscle control and reaction times.

To fully enjoy the benefits of all the exercise you are doing, you must include a warm up.  If done correctly it will enhance your activity, your longevity as an exerciser and quality of your overall health.

April is National Autism wareness Month

I come across some amazing people at the gym and this week is no different.   One of the people helping me make a fitness video was proudly wearing an autism shirt.  Her son has autism and she such a great advocate for him. His name is Jack.

Autism statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identify around 1 in 88 American children as on the autism spectrum-a ten-fold increase in prevalence in 40 years.  Careful research shows that this increase is only partly explained by improved diagnosis and awareness.  Studies also show that autism is four to five times more common among boys than girls.  An estimated 1 out of 54 boys and 1 in 252 girls are diagnosed with autism in the United States.

ASD affects over 2 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide.  Moreover, government autism statistics suggest that prevalence rates have increased 10 to 17 percent annually in recent years.  There is no established explanation for this continuing increase, although improved diagnosis and environmental influences are two reasons often considered.

Please go to the Autism Speaks website for more information.  Currently Washington allows every state to decide if they offer autism coverage.  Sadly Utah does not.  Thanks Deb for this information.  Your son is lucky to have such a great mom.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Hate is such a strong word

There are many of you out there that have a LOVE-HATE relationship with exercise.  Some need that exercise high and look forward to pushing their bodies.  They love the feeling of burning in the muscles and don't mind being soggy from pushing their limits.  Others despise gyms, sweat, pain and everything they associate with exercise.  In order to get people passionate about moving, we have to understand the reasons why people dislike exercise and what we can do to help turn the "hate" speed bump that slows you down into  a "love" hurdle you jump over.

  • Not in good enough shape-Fitness is an ongoing battle.  Don't wait for perfection to start.  Gauge your activities on what you can do and progress from there.  If you are unsure where to start, ask a fitness expert.  There are great, reputable resources on the internet or ask a trainer to help guide you.
  • Don't like to sweat-Sweat is a good thing.  It is your body's air conditioning system.  If you are not sweating when you are working out, it may be time to change your routine. It is also very cleansing and purifying.  You can also choose an activity that you don't notice that you are sweating like aqua fitness.
  • Knows how much work exercise can be-Not everyone loves to push their bodies to the limit.  Understanding that you have something strenuous before you can be pretty intimidating along with knowing that it is not just the workout but possibly the soreness or fatigue that will probably follow.  Your efforts will be rewarded.  Just stick with it.  You will get great satisfaction from overcoming the intimidation factor
  • Don't have the right clothes-Easy to fix.  There are many apparel options out there with a wide  range of prices and coverage.  Pick something that breaths and helps with wicking.  Don't select something you are constantly tugging on to keep in place or makes you think about your clothes rather than your exercise.  
  • Don't have the skills or isn't coordinated enough-There are so many options out there to choose from. Find things you love to do and start from there.  If you have never danced, don't pick an advanced ballet class.  If you don't like to be on the beat of the music, no worries.  There are several options like boot camp style, strength training, kettle bell, etc.  Once you find your niche, don't stop there.  Get a little confidence under your belt and then try something out of your comfort box.  Zumba is a great class to get you moving and there is no pressure to be the next Beyonce'
  • Don't have the time-Biggest reason people stay away.  Schedule in your workouts just like you would any other appointment.  It should take as much priority as anything else.  Find realistic times that work with your schedule and stick to it.
  • Don't like muscle soreness-Not every workout should give you muscle soreness and it is not healthy to be sore all of the time.  It is totally understandable and expected but your muscles need rest and recovery and not every workout should be so intense that you can't walk the next day.
  • It hurts to move-Injuries can really set you back if you allow them to.  You should always listen to your body.  If you have an injury or a chronic ache or pain, find out what is causing it and then find ways to work out or around the injury without perpetuating the problem.  There are many solutions to maintaining fitness.  Stopping isn't always the solution.
  • Did too much too soon-Many times the motivation is there but you start off too strong.  Pace yourself.  You don't want to make yourself so sore that you can't work out for a week.  Allow your body adequate rest and recovery in between pushes.
  • Had a bad experience-No one likes to get hurt and it if that happens while they are exercising, fear plus the injury can keep people from trying the activity again.  Again, educate yourself on what may have caused the injury and then find alternative ways to strengthen you body especially the injured area.  Muscle imbalances or compensations are top reasons for getting injured.
  • Cost-Many think that they have to join a gym to get fit.  No way.  You can get a great workout without using any equipment but your body weight.  Find a playground and play (exercise) there, YMCA and other community centers offer classes at reduced rates.  Household articles can be used for equipment like milk jugs, canned goods.  Cleaning can be a great workout.  Try lunging every time you push the vacuum forward.
  • Don't like the smell-Well,  that can be tough.  Hopefully it is not you.  Use deodorant but try and not use any strong smelling products.  No one likes to workout next to the person who bathed in their cologne before they came to the gym.
  • No support-If you go to a gym, join a class or small personal training group.  You'll meet new friends and  have fun commiserating or laughing together.  If you exercise on your own, start a running group or get your neighborhood involved in Saturday hike together.  The possibilities are endless.  
Even if you have another reason why you "hate" exercise, don't let it stop you.  Fitness will improve your quality of life and give you many reasons to enjoy every day.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Who showed up to the gym today?

Getting to the gym on a consistent basis can be a huge struggle.  Once you are in the doors you may face an even greater challenge.  No, it isn't your trainer.   It is which one of your personalities has decided to show up and how can you work with the personality-of-the-day.   First, pat yourself on the back for just getting to the gym.  Next, recognize who showed up and then, third,  learn how to make most out of  your workout.  Read the common personalities below and if you recognize any of them, learn how to better the inner you.
  • Sandra the social butterfly-Characteristics:  Uses gym time to catch up with friends,  make new acquaintances, or just stall so they don't have to work out. Carries their cell phones with them around the workout floor so they don't miss any opportunity to talk.   Help: I usually encourage people to get a workout buddy or join a class or small group training.  Friends help friends be consistent, stick out a hard workout and even compete a little to raise the bar.  The problem comes when our social interactions interfere with our productivity.  I always tell my clients, "If you can visit through your entire workout, you are not working hard enough."  When you train anaerobically, you don't have a lot of extra oxygen to do a lot of talking.  Work hard and then recover.  Talking during recovery is encouraged.  If you can talk you are back to normal breathing patterns which means your body has recovered and you are ready to go again.
  • Zoey the zombie-Characteristics:  Too tired to effectively do exercises,  no energy, can't remember what exercise they just did or what leg or arm they just used. Hair looks like it is still in bed.  Clothes may be on inside out.  Help: With our hectic schedules and our to-do lists measuring a mile long, it is easy to get a little sleep deprived. People who get quality shut-eye have better brain function and are able to manage their weight better.  Poor sleep rises obesity rate  due to messing with endocrine regulation of hunger and appetite, not to mention less energy to be active.
  • Alan the angry bird-Characteristics:  The music coming from the aerobic studios is irritating, the other members are irritating, the weights are too heavy, etc . They ask a lot of questions like "Why do we have to do this exercise or why do we have to do 12 reps?"  There is generally  very little talking and a lot of eye rolling (temporary problem).  Many exercises are put on their "do not like" list.  Help: Believe it or not, I encourage a little grouchiness.  Sometimes when you are working really hard or challenging yourself to do something new or out of your comfort zone you may get a little sour.  That is OK.  I just have one rule.  It is called the sassing hour.  I don't allow grouchiness to arrive  until you have reached the half way mark in the workout.  After that time you can let out your inner grouch as long as you are still working hard.  Another point to remember is that generally the exercises that you dislike the most are the ones you NEED the most.
  • Wanda the whiner-Characteristics: Usually has one or more muscles that are already sore prior to the workout.  Don't want to do anything strenuous. Usually begins workout with an excuse.   Stretching comes up often as an alternative to working out.  Help: You should always listen to your body.  Small pains,  or muscle issues shouldn't be an excuse not to workout but more of a reason to find what is really causing the issue and finding an alternative way to move.  Inactivity is not an answer. 
  • Oliver the Olympian-Characteristics: Feels like they can conquer the world,  wants to do 10 more reps of any exercise, tends to overdo when they feel great or pick weights that are heavier but not necessarily better.  Help:  When you are feeling good, take advantage but be a smart exerciser.  You should vary your pushes.  Balance out your week with different types of workouts.  Spend 2-3 days doing HIIT or interval training at a high level, balance that out with strength, core, and flexibility training and plus other activities that are fun workouts but aren't extremely strenuous.  Multi-hour workouts several times a week put you at risk for injuries that come from over training.
  • Fireman Fred-Characteristics:  "Where's the fire?"  Always in a hurry, rushing to finish reps, hurrying into the next exercise, always rushing tempo of exercises, always asking what is next.  Help: Our body moves at many speeds and we should train and workout the same way.  We have different muscle fiber types and should train them all. Don't be afraid to slow down or use isometric contractions to activate muscles and stimulate calorie burn.  Something else to consider is the quality of your push.  If you are giving 100 percent to your exercise, you and your body should want  and need recovery.  If you are always ready to do the "next" thing you should consider pushing harder during your exertion and then enjoy the benefits of recovery.
  • Doubting Thomas-Characteristics: Usually asks a lot of questions and or has a lot of inquiries.  "Should I be doing this?" "Am I too old to be doing this?"  "Is this good for me?" "Am I doing this right?" "Should I make this a recovery day?" Help: Don't ignore any of those questions but address them head on.  Fear is huge reason for people not improving or reaching their goals.  Set small and short term goals that can lead up to larger ones and hopefully eliminate some of your doubts.  Education is also empowering.  I love to teach my clients as much as I can so they can see the value in what they are doing.
  • Serious Sally-Characteristics: Smiles are left in the locker, on a mission to get specific workout in,  not in the mood to hear a lot of dialogue.  Help:  There is nothing wrong with taking exercise seriously but life is too short not to enjoy it.  Find some fun in your workout no matter how hard it is.  Be proud that you are completing your workout.  Love what your exercise is doing to your body.
  • No No Joe-Characteristics:  The words don't, can't or won't come up a lot.  Fear, doubt, or injuries are reasons for avoiding certain exercises or classes. Frustrations from chronic injuries tend to hold them back.   Help:  There are many ways to work around injuries, pre-existing conditions or limitations that may hinder our fitness goals.  Your pains and fears are real but we can work with almost anything.  
Recognize and embrace who shows up to the gym, you can work with anyone and get the results you want.  I have embraced all my personalities.  You should do.    

Monday, April 1, 2013

Amazing Abs in April-Day 6

I use dumbbells for this challenge.  If you don't have access to any, no worries.  Use a can of soup or anything  that will add a little weight to your exercises.

Half Roll Back- Starting Position-Picture 1
Starting Position:
         1.  Seated with legs bent and together.  (Can have feet shoulder's width apart for more stability)
         2.  Abdominals compressed and scooped
         3.  Shoulders square and scapula sliding down to back pockets
         4.  Weights close to mid-line of the body
         5.  Neck and shoulders relaxed
         6.  Spine long
         EXHALE-Roll back by increasing curve of lower spine and compression and flexion of abs
         INHALE-Hold in reclined position
         EXHALE-Roll back up to starting position

Focus of exercise:  Improve mobility of spine and increase abdominal strength

         1.  Keep pulling belly button to spine to maintain curve
         2.  Imagine scooping abdominal wall through movement
         3.  Keep abdominals compressed and as flat as possible
         4.  Keep sliding shoulder blades toward back pockets
         5.  Keep arms at shoulder level and relaxed
         1.  Avoid straightening spine as you roll up and back
         2.  Keep from collapsing into low back
         3.  Do not reach forward with neck
         4.  Avoid rounding shoulders
         5.  Avoid overusing hip flexors and initiating movement with hip flexors
         6.  Keep shoulders down for Option from Picture 3
Half Roll Back-Rolling back to increase flexion-Picture 2

Half Roll Back-Option with arms remaining by ears-Picture 3
Half Roll Back with alternating open arms-Starting Position-Picture 1
Starting Position:
         1.  Seated with legs bent and together.  (Can have feet shoulder's width apart for more stability)
         2.  Abdominals compressed and scooped
         3.  Shoulders square and scapula sliding down to back pockets
         4.  Weights close to mid-line of the body but arms reaching straight forward from shoulders
         5.  Neck and shoulders relaxed
         6.  Spine long
         EXHALE-Roll back by increasing curve of lower spine and compression and flexion of abs and simultaneously open one arm out to side while other remains in front of body.
         INHALE-Hold in reclined position
         EXHALE-Roll back up to starting position

Focus of exercise:  Improve mobility of spine and increase abdominal strength while biasing one side with resistance


         1.  Keep pulling belly button to spine to maintain curve
         2.  Imagine scooping abdominal wall throughout movement
         3.  Keep abdominals compressed and as flat as possible
         4.  Keep sliding shoulder blades toward back pockets
         5.  Keep arms at shoulder level and relaxed
         6.  Keep body as square as possible throughout movement
         1.  Avoid straightening spine as you roll up and back
         2.  Keep from collapsing into low back
         3.  Do not reach forward with neck
         4.  Avoid rounding shoulders
         5.  Avoid overusing hip flexors and initiating movement with hip flexors
         6.  Avoid shifting or leaning to one side
         7.  Avoid opening arm to far to the side if alignment cannot be maintained

Half Roll Back with alternating open arms-Open one arm out to side-Picture 2

Half Roll Back with alternating open arms-Open other arm out to side-Picture 3

Arm and Leg Extension with Dumbbell-Starting Postion-Picture 1

Starting Position:
         1.  Lie on the floor with back in neutral with legs bent and together in tabletop position.  Knees are directly over hips
         2.  Arms extended with hands directly over shoulders
         3.  Abdominals compressed and scooped
         4.  Shoulders square and scapula sliding down to back pockets
         5.  Neck and shoulders relaxed
         6.  Spine long 
         EXHALE-Reach leg out while simultaneously reaching arms overhead
         INHALE-Hold in extended position
         EXHALE-Slowly bring leg and arms back to starting position

Focus of Exercise:  Abdominal stability and compression strength

         1.  Maintain space under back.  
         2.  Keep shoulder blades sliding down to pack pockets
         3.  Keep bent knee over hip
         4.  Press leg out with control.  The lower the leg the harder the exercise
         5.  Keep arms long squeezing triceps
         6.  Keep abdominals compressed.
         7.  Keep elbows in 
         8.  Take your time
         1.  Don't let back dump into floor or arch up toward ceiling.  You want to maintain space from starting position
         2.  Avoid hunching or rounding shoulders
         3.  Avoid pulling top knee into chest
         4.  Avoid whipping leg out and in.  It will get those hip flexors too involved
         5.  Don't rush this exercise.  
         6.  Avoid the "trampoline" effect.  Don't hit end range and immediately bounce back to starting position.

Arm and Leg Extension with Dumbbell-Raise arms and extend one leg-Picture 2
Arm and Leg Extension with Dumbbell-Repeat and extend other leg-Picture 3

Starting Position: