Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2012

Overhead Shoulder Raises: Fixing Slouching Two Deltoids at a Time

Today I am going to give you instructions on strengthening some of the upper back muscles that get hyper extended from our overly hunched daily routine. A friend of mine did some aid work in Haiti after their recent earthquake. Something he noticed was the excellent muscle tone of the back muscles amongst every age group, especially the elderly. He mentioned that they were quite adept at carrying things without much difficulty, even though he was there to treat the many other ailments they were suffering after the quake. The point is that they had excellent tone in their upper back from shoulder to shoulder, and as a result were not suffering from some of the common ailments of American society, where 10-15% of adults experience neck pain..

One exercise effective at improving tone is the overhead shoulder raise. The overhead shoulder raise involves holding a medicine ball or other weight in front of your body and then simply raising it overhead.
Here are the keys to maintaining good p…

Have Body Type Preferences Changed?

We Tried This: Strong vs. Skinny | According a recent edition of the ACSM Health and Fitness Journal , the fitness industry has made some strides into what is considered a healthy body image. No longer is the muscular look taboo, but the 'lean' look is still the appropriate trend- and the fitness trends are changing too:
Lean isn't always healthy. Body fat percentage and muscle tone, like rings on a tree, tell the true story of how well the body has been kept. Blood tests also tell the tale that lean isn't always healthy.Trendy fitness fads like Zumba and other dance classes aren't getting the job done. Neither are the spin classes. Classic, good-ole fashioned boot camp and weight lifting are getting the results.The attitude is different. People (especially women) demand to be pushed and challenged. And they aren't afraid of 'getting too big' anymore. Just of climbing the next hurdle. Check out the latest trends as we head to the end of 2012 and…

Thanksgiving Mental Exercise: Use it at the Table

I often throw in how important is mental acuity to the overall body functionality. Especially at this time of year when getting large groups of family together, I thought about giving everyone an excellent mental exercise that they can use while *ahem* sitting around and eating at a table (just watch those calories, ok?)

Using this simple method can reduce stress, and especially the additional eating that is often associated with stress. You have probably heard of Dr. Martin Seligman's ACR positive psychology? ACR is Active Constructive Responding, and the basic premise is to promote only positive responses to outside stimuli. There is a good test at the PBS blog to give yourself cues on when to use this technique.

Stay positive, enjoy your families and your time off from work to reduce stress and change your routine. Then feel energized and ready to return to your normal grind and workout, possibly with better tools than before!

Happy Thanksgiving!

New 30 minutes workout- BOSU Style!

AN ALL BOSU WORKOUT: Round One: 10-15 BOSU Push-ups (dome side down, hands on BOSU base):30 seconds BOSU Mountain Climbers10-15 BOSU Push-ups (dome side up, feet on dome):30 seconds BOSU Mountain Climbers10 BOSU Crossover Push-Ups (dome side up, one arm on BOSU, other on floor. Switch for each repetition):30 seconds BOSU Mountain Climbers
 Round Two: 15 BOSU Forward Lunge R & L:30 BOSU Power Skip (see Video below for progressions)15 BOSU Uneven Squats (Right foot on BOSU, left on floor, then vice versa):30 BOSU Power Skip15 BOSU Reverse Lunges R&L:30 BOSU Power Skip Power Skip Video


Round Three30 BOSU Crunches (sit on the third ring from bottom, legs bent, feet on floor, crunch abs):30 BOSU Bicycles30 BOSU Leg Raises:30 BOSU Bicycles :30 BOSU Flutter Kicks (like bicycles, but flutter side to side)1:00 BOSU Plank (dome side up)

The Fitness of Sleep

Understanding the Zombie Teen's Body Clock -

Hey everyone, since we talked about it a few weeks ago, I thought I would share another article on sleep.
Sleep is so important for normal metabolic function. I can tell you that I am guilty of not getting enough sleep too. It's something all of us should work on.

This article focuses on its affect for teens and how sleep rhythms affect performance during the day. The study is eye-opening.We'll be back next week with a new workout and some health tips. In the mean time, get some rest!

The "Workout:Not-So-Impossible"

Robert Irvine, famous Food Network chef of shows like "Restaurant:Impossible", is no stranger to having to get way too many things done in a short amount of time. His show focuses on him getting tough jobs done in very short amounts of time. He was recently interviewed about his workout routine because this master chef is buff!

Irvine, age 47, says that he has switched to lighter weights but regular workout routines at 5:00 am every morning. The important thing to note is that this guy is always looking for a gym everywhere he goes during his 330 days on the road, and takes some of his crew with him.

In his shows, he generally gets to his destination at 7:00 am, and before you know it, he's hard at work getting the impossible job done. Lesson learned: you can get it done.

He has also shared details about his workout and his commitment. From IdeatFit,com:
I do between 45 minutes to 1 hour of very light weights, but with high reps in sets of 60, 50, 40, 20, 30, 10. I do f…

Could less equal more for exercise?

Recent studies have demonstrated that it may be possible to achieve more weight loss with shorter exercise sessions. The studies compared equivalent workout levels (each burning 600 calories per hour) with different lengths of workouts (one group worked out for 30 minutes and the other, 60 minutes). Normally, we associate more calories burned with more weight loss. In this case, the opposite happened: the 30 minutes group lost 20% more weight than the 60 minute group. One suggestion as to why this may have been the case is that the group with the shorter workout tended to be more active throughout the day.

They also considered the fact that the 60 minute group simply had less energy after their workouts, and therefore their cumulative calorie burn over the course of the day would be less. In my opinion, this is probably the most likely explanation. Fat storage is zero sum: you can only store from what you have extra. If you eat fewer calories than what you burn, then you burn up energy…

Can chemicals in our food cause obesity?

Childhood Obesity Linked to BPA, Study Suggests | Fox News Latino
Plastic Bottles and Toxins|
Public Health Focus: Bisphenol A | FDA

The articles cited above are for guidelines on how to prevent possible effects of chemical toxins that could be affecting how our bodies function. The science isn't there yet, but one thing is for sure- BPA enters your body and is finally excreted. My suggestion is to follow the guidelines as best you can to ensure that these foreign toxins do not get into your diet regularly.

Juicing the Legal Way

In today's NY Times Health Blog, the discussion is about the benefits of different fruit and vegetable juices for major athlete's performance enhancement. Beetroot juice can make you pedal faster. Tim Tebow would swig massive amounts of tart cherry juice before running the stairs at Gator's stadium "The Swamp". Some serious clinical studies were conducted, with the best discovery being the decreased muscle recovery time resulting from (specifically) the consumption of tart cherry juice. Maybe it's the iron content? I know that I will be adding tart cherry to my routine soon. What do you think? Comment below

Too Fat To Fight: The D.O.D. and Healthy Eating

The Defense department has gone on the offensive against obesity since it's landmark "Too Fat to Fight" study from 2010 (which you can access at the link provided). 75% of young adults do not meet the military requirements of fitness. 50 years ago, the concern was vitamin intake. Now, it's poor food choices and inactivity.

D.O.D. has some good online resources which you can find on the link above. They include nutrition and activity ideas for families, not just soldiers. Basically, they are making the case for national security by encouraging a healthy population. Can't fight if you're not fit.

One of the best suggestions from the article is slowing down from the fast pace and thinking more about what you are eating, as well as budgeting time to prepare fresh meals instead of frozen ones. It also suggests that "kid-friendly" meals are too chicken nugget and pizza heavy. Preparing foods yourself allows the family to have better decisions into how the…

Strength Training, Alzheimer's, and Walking

Now that's an odd title... Yes, it appears that, based on some observational research, these things are related. In some research released today during the International Conference of the Alzheimer's Association, poor walking habits and awkward gait can be signs of cognitive inhibition. There is no longer sensitivity integration between different parts of the brain and the rest of the body. You can read more about this at USA TODAY

But Strength Training... According to another study released at the same conference, major improvements were found in test subjects that engaged in weight training:
Participants were tested for cognitive executive functions such as attention, memory and planning. According to [a lead investigator], “the cognitive executive function and associated memory – those are the two traits most linked to dementia.”
At the end of the trial, those in the weight lifting group were most improved.
So what's the point... The goal is early detection. Diagno…

Getting a better night's rest

The Washington Post quotes a survey that many people, for various reasons, are reporting trouble with getting a good night's sleep. Sleep is an important part of normal biological function, helps with recovery, and contributes to proper metabolic function. Not sleeping enough at night can impact a person's ability to think clearly, perform tasks efficiently, affects focus and attention, and it makes you yawn an awful lot!

A excellent research project of the NIH in its Sport's Medicine journal chronicals many of the issues related to interupted sleep patterns as a result of shift work (link for article). Some negative affects of altered behavioral patterns, such as eating at night (mentioned in section 2.2) have links to obesity because of the low metabolic trends during the night hours. As the paper does note, there was some difficulty in gaining access to enough participants to fully study the effects of nocturnal workers versus the behior paterns and exercise habits of a…

The Philosophy of Fitness

Act of Valor star Lt. Cmdr. Rorke explained some basic rules for Men's Health Magazine to create a mentality and lifestyle that sets you up to not only achieve fitness goals, but also some life goals.
Strive for something- set a plan on reaching for an achievement, whether an amount of weight to lose, a distance to run, or a weight to lift. This can prepare you for getting up and completing your task, as long as you believe in completing it.Then strive for more- always challenge yourself to believe that you can accomplish more than what you are doing right nowDon't set limits- just keep trying until you can't go any further. You could be surprised at how much you can do if you just let yourselfWork with someone better than you- that's right, you know they are better than you. Now try to beat them. With the attitude that you can always be better than where you are right now, you can make great strides and changes in your life. It's about the attitude. Give yourself t…

The 15 minutes arm crushing workout

I haven't put a new workout up in a while. This is really just a vanity muscle workout for tone and muscle development, but done quickly can break out a major sweat. That means- don't stop to chat between sets, but just crush this workout!
15 minute arm work out- crush 'em!!! Super fast tricep and bicep workout: First round: Preacher curls and triceps dips 10 tricep dips- works long head of tricep

Exercise- Some Motiviation Required

It requires some thought in to why we do and don't do things. Exercise was not really much expected of the average person when there was so much labor to do around the home and job. Our evolution from labor based to service based industries has created a need for us to generate time for activity. Hence- our need for motivation.
Exercise in ancient Greece, for example, was an ingrained part of the religion and culture. The Gymnasium was dedicated to physical perfection, but also developed into a meeting place of philosophers and educators.
In some ways, exercise is a motivator today for people to look attractive, impress their friends, potential friends, or just to make people notice them. Vanity can motivate.
Sometimes, it's just about pride. The thought of having to buy new clothes to make room for more of you is just not pleasant (especially when you see the selection available). In fact, some studies have demonstrated that monetary incentives have helped people lose weigh…

Fiber for FItness (or just fitting into clothes)

The average American diet simply does not have enough fiber. White enriched flour has almost no fiber content. The most popular veggies are tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, and cucumbers, which have almost no fiber content (or vitamin content for that matter). Fiber helps regulate the digestive system (especially soluble fiber) by moving lipids (i.e. fats) through the blood stream and helping regulate sugar absorption. Insoluble fiber helps move bulk through the intestines, easing constipation and maintaining healthy acid levels.
You should also try to manage the sugar and fiber intake, especially for weight loss. Less sugar equals fewer calories which always contributes to weight loss. Check out the chart below for examples
Other great ideas are some of the whole fruit smoothies such as Bolthouse Farm products which use whole fruits and not juices. Fiber in your diet is an easy way to lose weight without making huge changes, so get started!

"Food Deserts" have sprouted greens!

In today's New York Times Health section, the author quotes studies challenging the First Ladies' assertion of poor neighborhoods being 'food deserts', meaning that they are bereft of any produce and people have no options besides a big mac and fries.

From the article:
Dr. Sturm’s study, published in February in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine, had a different design. With financing from the National Institutes of Health, he used data on the self-reported heights, weights, and diets of more than 13,000 California children and teenagers in the California Health Interview Survey. The survey included the students’ addresses and the addresses of their schools. He used a different data set to see what food outlets were nearby. Dr. Sturm found no relationship between what type of food students said they ate, what they weighed, and the type of food within a mile and a half of their homes. He has also completed a national study of middle school stud…

How to ACTUALLY go from Couch to 5K in Three Months

Have you either tried, thought about trying, or read about these running protocols to get you running a mile or a five thousand meter (5K) race? If you are not familiar with these types of schedules, then follow this link to see a selection of programs that commonly are offered to get you running that first mile or 5K. You could follow those programs, but end up like this:
Just because you've decided to start running doesn't mean that your body is ready to run. Furthermore, even if your body can tolerate the running now, it doesn't mean that it's having a positive effect on you. Running is one of the best exercises for cardiovascular health, but like all powers, it must be used wisely.

To achieve your goal of successfully running, you need to understand oxygen deficit As you work in an aerobic phase, your body is using oxygen to get rid of lactic acid that is building up and making you feel hot and sore. There is a certain pH in which your muscles are able to function…

5 NOT health food products

The Washington Post was kind enough to mention the top five NOT health foods on the market. It's important to note that the sweeping condemnation isn't totally on the mark. For example:

Energy Bars
Yeah most of them are from palm kernel oil and soy garbage. I wouldn't feed this stuff to a pet, and I wouldn't recommend it to you. If the ingredients have any more than 8 letters, it's probably not natural. Stick to Natural Food Bars or Larabars which are certified organic (and kosher!). Raw food bars are pretty good too.

Energy Drinks
Unless you feel drained, don't drink Gatorade or Powerade. Add some flavor to your water because taste helps your body feel more satisfied.  The tounge and brain work against you with this one, so mix up the flavors with natural juices like lemon, lime, or other citrus slices of fruit in your water bottle. You can experiment with other fruits like pears and apples, but they take longer to infuse flavor.

Whole Grains
Make sure that the i…

A new, fifteen minute workout

New Fifteen Minute Workout!!!
Warm up: give yourself about two minutes worth of jumping jacks, but try to hop in different planes of movement. Try standard jumping jacks, then try to switch the timing of arms and legs, and then try scissors jacks switching arms and legs back and forth. Add some twists: make the warm up different.

Workout: This workout is all about unilateral movements- we are using one limb at a time.
Left leg lunges- step the left leg forward, bend both knees to 90 degrees, and finally return to a standing position. Repeat for one minuteRight leg lunges- same as above, repeat for one minute. For more of a balance challenge, hold your arms up above your headLeft arm clean and press- using a dumbbell or any weight you have around the house (a gallon bottle of water, for example), squat down low with the goal of touching the weight to the floor, followed by standing up and pressing your weight overhead. Repeat for one minute.Right arm clean and press- same as before. For a…

What a Pain in the Psoas!

Back pain can present in a few different ways, which we had discussed in a previous post.
Today we are dealing with the iliopsoas and how dysfunction in this muscle can present as back pain
The iliopsoas is involved in hip flexion, but due to its insertion at the 12th vertebrae of the thoracic spine and first through fifth lumbar vertebrae, it is better classified as a postural stabilizer. The psoas hooks up to the lowest part of the back and then extends down to the lesser trochanter on the medial side of the femur. This means that an irritated psoas can be felt from your lower back and buttock all the way down to the middle of your inner thigh. That's a big pain and you know where you will feel it!

Psoas tendonitis can be caused by shortening the muscle due to anterior pelvic tilt (does your booty look like J.Lo?), overuse (too may hills during a run or just too much running/walking), or poor posture (are you really supposed to bend over that way?).

The simplest way to stretch t…

Eat More and You Can Lose Weight

Are you tired of hearing about portion sizes to control or lose weight?
You can actually eat MORE and still lose pounds or maintain your weight more easily.
We have been entertained by the prospects of a Twinkie diet to convince us that calorie control may be the only necessary component to proper health. Unfortunately, these tests usually are post hoc  or "correlation not causation" arguments and are not valid. His short term gains may have been significant, but perhaps he should have been compared to someone who was malnourished, etc. in order to better prove causation.
There is an important causation, but it depends on the type of calories you consume. Calories come from carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Carbs burn first, then fat, and finally protein. If the body needs energy quickly and you do not have enough carbs for energy, and the fat is taking too long to break down, then your body can turn to protein, and this can lead to inhibition of lean body mass gains. Balanci…

Kettlebells reducing back pain

The NY Times has an article from this week about training with kettlebells, and how successfully training with them can reduce back pain by training the posterior core muscles that are often weakened by long hours of leaning of desks and computers at work.

The best exercise for relieving back pain is the Kettlebell Swing: When the Swing is executed correctly, it incorporates every posterior chain muscle, loosens tight hip muscles, and improves abdominal strength. The back is kept straight through the movement and the head is always 'looking down field'.

Knowing the correct weight and proper form are important to correct execution of the Kettlebell Swing requires some flexibility and patience with getting the form.

No Junk Science: Junk Food in Our Schools

In today's NY Times, a Pennsylvania University study concluded that: "they could find no correlation at all between obesity and attending a school where sweets and salty snacks were available." There must be a problem with food preferences and not just availability, price, or just blaming school lunches.
If this is your regular lunch, with high fat, high carbohydrate, and very low nutritional content, and combined with little physical activity, then you will have childhood obesity problems.

Instead, lunches should look more like this:

Higher fiber, higher vitamin, higher protein, and lower fat and carb content. Now about that physical activity thing...

15 minute workout- no frills, all results

If you are pressed for time and need to move out some of that energy from being stuck at the desk or in meetings all day, then I have a quick solution for you involving no equipment. You should do all five exercises for 60 seconds and have three rounds (5 exercises x 60 seconds/exercise x three rounds = 15 minutes).

Here's the basic workout: Burpees - Push-Ups - Squats - Mountain Climbers - Deadlift
Perform each exercise for 60 seconds. Take a one to two minute break between each round of exercises if necessary.

Here are some of the exercises mentioned above:

This is a video about the progressions of Burpees

The next video is about Mountain Climbers and its progressions:
Deadlifts can be performed with any 'dead weight' lying around the home, such as a full backpack, a box of books, bag of kitty litter, whatever.

It's imperative that one should learn proper deadlift, push-up, and squat techniques from an expert before attempting them on your own. Feel free to contact m…

Get Your Head in the Game... and in Life

Today's post is from the IYCA Newsletter about the mental component of athletic training: Why Performance Training Alone Isn't Enough By Melissa LambertAs a former collegiate athlete, I remember spending my off seasons training every opportunity I had including weight lifting, running and playing with the men's team to increase my speed of play. I took pride in having the top times in running and physically being able to outplay others. However, I remember playing our rival team and making a huge mistake that could have resulted in the other team scoring. What could have possibly gone wrong when I was in the best shape of my life? I neglected the most significant component of an athlete, my mind. The mental aspect of any sport can make or break a talented athlete regardless of their training regiment. I didn't spend nearly the amount of time training my mind as I did training my body.It wasn't until becoming a girls' premier soccer coach and a licensed therapis…