Thursday, December 20, 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.
Front Shoulder Raise
Here are the keys to maintaining good posture:
  • Feet spread shoulder width apart, shoulders pulled down and back, abs pulled in
  • Rotate the weight while keeping arms straight (not locked elbows)
  • Do not shrug or sway. Always keep your body still
  • You should feel this behind the shoulders and along the center of the back
Check out this video as well for more on maintaining form (but he still sways too much) and other modifications:
You can modify this exercise by using bands as well. If you are unsure of the form: talk to your trainer

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

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 into 2013, and take a moment to evaluate your fitness trends. See if what you have been doing is working for you, or if you need to crank it up.

If you are really considering a change- think boot camp. It's all your own body. Give it a try sometime

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

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!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

New 30 minutes workout- BOSU Style!


Round One: 

  • 10-15 BOSU Push-ups (dome side down, hands on BOSU base)
  • :30 seconds BOSU Mountain Climbers
  • 10-15 BOSU Push-ups (dome side up, feet on dome)
  • :30 seconds BOSU Mountain Climbers
  • 10 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 Skip
  • 15 BOSU Reverse Lunges R&L
  • :30 BOSU Power Skip
Power Skip Video

Reverse Lunge
Forward Lunge


Round Three

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

Thursday, October 18, 2012

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!

Monday, October 15, 2012

The "Workout:Not-So-Impossible"

Robert Irvine, Master Chef on Food Network

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 four exercises per body part with one minute rest in between. For example, bench press: 60, 50, 40, 30, 20, 10; one minute; next is another body part and so on. I find this gives me an aerobic workout that also burns fat. When I’m finished I have a shake. This morning I did an hour of cardio, but normally I do 20 minutes of cardio three times per week.
You don’t need to be in a gym to work out. You can swim. You can walk. You can walk up and down stairs. People get this sort of stigma thinking, “Oh, I have to go to a gym, but I don’t look good enough to go to a gym.” The stigma of their extra weight or feeling like they don’t look good enough stops them from going.
Okay. Don’t go to a gym. Instead, find a personal trainer.
Oh and concerning trainers, he says:
Inspiration is the biggest word in the fitness industry. I’m a big believer in trainers because they motivate most people to show up on time, do their workouts and work hard. If you’re a little overweight or just getting into a gym, you need that motivation. I don’t care who you are, if you don’t have [motivation], you may never find it without some help. You need someone to push you. Sometimes I bring my personal trainer on the road with me. 
So find the time. As you see from Irvine, it's never "Impossible"

Thursday, September 27, 2012

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 from fat storage. It is possible to break down protein for immediate energy use, and this can happen in endurance runners for example, but in the average person, this is unlikely.

My suggestion is to work out as much as you can without the feeling of being lazy after the workout. Keep your activity level up throughout the day. Take the stairs, walk instead of drive to a nearby destination, or get off of a train station a stop or two earlier before heading in to work.

Stay tuned to more 30 minute workouts to be posted. Check out some of my previous fifteen minute workouts here or here

Thursday, September 20, 2012

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.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

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

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

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 food is prepared (less salt and fat, more fresh/raw foods, whole grains).

One final suggestion was limiting TV and computer time. So that's it for today- put down the internet based device you're holding and let's get moving!

Monday, July 16, 2012

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. Diagnosing someone suffering from poor gait can predict if they are at risk for Alzheimer's disease, where previous indicators had included falling. Falling is one way to indicate that motor systems in an older adult are beginning to fail. To have a predictor before that would increase the likelihood of preventive care being successful in deterring the onset of the disease, for example.
Read more about falling and Alzheimer's

Thursday, July 12, 2012

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!

Sleep- it's good for you!
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 regular work time population. The paper does stress that there is evidence that exercise helps to manage the stress and anxiety in some of their patients and recommends it as part of an overall holistic strategy for a healthy lifestyle.

Getting 7-8 hours of sleep has been recommended for as long as I can find (it's mentioned in the writings of Maimonides, so we are talking almost 900 years of such medical knowledge), but each person has to find the right balance of time based on their activity level. Associciate sleep with recovery time- if you feel refreshed and ready to go after a night's sleep, then you should feel recovered. If waking up is accompanied by muscle tightness, headache, dizziness, etc., then it is time to re-evaluate your schedule.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

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.
  1. 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.
  2. Then strive for more- always challenge yourself to believe that you can accomplish more than what you are doing right now
  3. Don'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 yourself
  4. Work 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 the chance to be even better.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

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

You can also use an assistance machine or bench like this picture

10 preacher curls - this will work long head of the bicep


Repeat these two exercises as a superset (dips then curls) for three sets

Second Round: Standing bicep curls and posterior tricep extenstions

10 standing bicep curls

Try to keep your elbows down at your side for this exercise. It will work the short head of the bicep

10 tricep extensions- works short head of the tricep

Keep your back straight and extend both arms back on this exercise. Squeeze your arm at full extension to really feel the tricep working, but do not lock out the elbow.

Repeat these two exercises as a superset for three sets

Round Three: Hammer curls and overhead tricep extensions

10 hammer curls

10 overhead tricep extensions (may be done standing)

Three sets, crush it out through the final set. Make sure you do the most weight on these last three sets.

Finish this workout with jump rope or a jog for about 3-5 minutes




Wednesday, May 30, 2012

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 weight, such as offering free healthy meals.

At the end of the day, the best motivator for exercise is going to come down to your desire to always be active. If you want to be able to get to many of the places that you saw at 25 later at 65, then the activity level has to be at or near the level it was at age 25. Muscle responds to stimuli. Do nothing, and it goes away. Do something, and the muscle stays with you for many years to come. Having an exercise program that addresses the needs of functional fitness is the best program for everyone.

To learn more about functional fitness and daily activity regimens, please visit ACSM's new recommendations on quantity and quality of exercise

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

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!

Monday, April 23, 2012

"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 students, with the same result — no consistent relationship between what the students ate and the type of food nearby. Living close to supermarkets or grocers did not make students thin and living close to fast food outlets did not make them fat.
In a study performed by Peter Twist and presented by Scott Avery at which I was present at the 2011 IDEA Conference on Personal Training, there was a correlation between the distances children walked to school (it has gotten shorter over the years and fewer kids are walking), their level of activity at school, and their after school activity. Kids either aren't getting enough activity, or they started with an intense program and later dropped it, or they don't eat right. Obesity is not the plight of the poor, but instead the scourge of every economic level. It's time to start encouraging more activity!

Here are some great suggestions for family and friends to engage in during their busy schedule during the week:

  1. Watch a movie or TV show while on the treadmill, elliptical, or bike. Try joining a gym so that you can have friends join you, and you aren't beholden to the weather
  2. Start a book club that meets while taking a walk around your neighborhood, instead sitting around and eating in someone's house. That could save you anywhere from 150-300 calories in snacking. If you use an e-reader, carry it with you while you walk because they are often back lit and can be referenced while you are all out.
  3. Call family and friends from a cell phone while walking (preferably going hands free with Bluetooth or some other option)
  4. Run shuttle runs across your backyard for 5:00 minutes (probably about 20 times back and forth)
  5. Plant a vegetable garden and pick your salad and dinner options out of your backyard
If we start taking responsibility for our choices instead of believing that society is conspiring to fatten us up, then we can take necessary steps towards making our own lives better.

Monday, April 2, 2012

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. Pass that threshold, and you're toast until you recover. If your body can't bring in enough oxygen to generate more energy (ATP), then it grabs energy from anaerobic phases, which means you are going to run out of gas, fast. Reaching that point is called oxygen deficit.
Muscle tissue stores all of the ATP that you need quickly, but you need to have an efficient aerobic metabolic system to manage the changing levels of acidity produced by longer term running.

So what's my point? Build up muscle and run less.

These programs have you running 3-4 times per week. Maybe your body will be able to respond quickly to the sudden changes, but maybe it won't. It will depend on ones level of conditioning. A deconditioned person may not respond well to all of that walking and running required for these programs. Walking a long distance with either poor posture, incorrect mechanics of movement, or low lactic acid thresholds will be in for some uncomfortable results. Getting yourself in better physical shape by improving muscle tone and flexibility will give you better results in running with fewer injuries and less time spent running

What are the Fundamental Exercises for Getting in Shape to Run

Three major factors contribute to a successful run:
  1. Leg/core strength
  2. Oxygen uptake
  3. Flexibility
The best way to get results is by having an expert trainer who can design a strength program to improve your physical strength and stretch the right muscles to keep you mobile. A solid strength program will have it's collection of squats, lunges, push-ups, back exercises, rotational movements, hamstring conditioning, and ballistic plyometrics. Each person is different, so make sure your trainer has a background in working with lots of populations and understands the muscle functions involved with walking and running. I have taken three years of courses on the demands of running and walking from every age group, and I can tell you that there are multiple scenarios for all kinds of people. One thing is certain: anyone can attempt to run a 5K with a properly designed program.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

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 ingredients have lots of actual whole flours and kernels. Check the fiber content as well. It should have at least 3-4 grams per serving.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

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.
  1. Left leg lunges- step the left leg forward, bend both knees to 90 degrees, and finally return to a standing position. Repeat for one minute
  2. Right leg lunges- same as above, repeat for one minute. For more of a balance challenge, hold your arms up above your head
  3. Left 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.
  4. Right arm clean and press- same as before. For added challenge, try rising to your toes on the pressing part of the movement, or even add a slight hop, before returning to the squatting part of the movement
  5. Single leg line hops- standing on your right leg only, hop forward and back over a line for 30 seconds, then switch to hopping left and right over the line. Repeat on the left leg only.
  6. Single leg squats - this one is tough! Keep one leg off of the floor (either behind you or in front of you), squat to the floor, put your hands on the floor for support, and then pop back up. For added fun, try adding a thrust behind you: after sqautting down to the floor and your hands are down, thrust the single leg back until you are prone, followed by jumping it back underneath your body and then standing up: a single legged burpee. Repeat for one minute on each leg.
  7. Bird dogs: start on the floor on all fours (hands and knees), then extend the right arm and left leg straight out from the body. After they are fully extended and held for a three count, retract the left knee to touch the right elbow for a three count (don't let them touch the floor!), and finally extend back out away from the body. Repeat for one minute. Do the same thing for the other side (left arm and right leg)
Cool Down: Thirty seconds holding a plank (scroll down to see a video), followed by two side planks of fifteen seconds each. Stretch for the last two minutes or foam roll.

Monday, February 20, 2012

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 the psoas muscle is to bend both legs at 90 degrees, one in front and one in back as if it were a lunge position. Next, you drive the pelvis forward, flexing the front knee and extending the rear knee. The stretch should be felt all the way down the inner thigh. You can accentuate the stretch by placing the trailing leg on a bench or ball.
Many types of movement or postures can affect psoas function, so its best to evaluate yourself and adjust your training program with a professional such as myself to properly adjust your posture, walking form, and other contraindicated movements.

Monday, February 6, 2012

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. Balancing your diet to meet your energy needs is the single most important goal.

You may need to eat more fruits and vegetables, go heavier on protein, change the types of fats you consume, and decrease your carbohydrate intake if you only engage in moderate activity. Insufficient energy can effect your mood and decision making abilities, so balance your meals accordingly.

If you are active, more protein and carbohydrates may be necessary, depending on the activity and your level of exertion. Running 5Ks and cycling is different than powerlifting which differs from basketball, football, soccer, and other sports.

If you are not sure about how to manage your meals, then you should speak to a lifestyle management and wellness coach such as myself about effective changes. Be prepared to tell your LWMC all about yourself, your physical activity, and your current eating habits. Some of the changes are basic and do not require a specialist such as a nutritionist to solve some of your dieting dilemmas.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

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.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

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...

Monday, January 9, 2012

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 me about setting up sessions to learn these techniques correctly. Sessions can be in person or online via GChat.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

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 Lambert

As 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 therapist that I realized how much of performance was based on mental skills. More of my time was spent off the practice field counseling my young athletes than actually playing. Coaches expect players to be ready to perform and leave all baggage behind, but if the athlete lacks mental toughness they will not see peak performance. Sport Psychologist, Gary Mack, defines the seven characteristics associated with mental toughness:

Competitive: An athlete who does whatever it takes to win and will go the extra mile for a team. As a coach or fitness professional, observe whether your athletes fight for the ball after making a mistake or give-up.

Confident: An athlete believes he or she can't be stopped. These athletes believe in their abilities and don't allow self-defeating thoughts to take over.

Control: Mentally tough athletes have control of their emotions and behaviors. They won't allow coaches, players and parents to get into their head.

Committed: An athlete who is highly motivated and will avoid letting outside distractions deter them from their goals. As a coach it's important to observe the commitment of each individual athlete to themselves and to their team.

Composure: Mentally tough athletes who can deal with adversity and stay focused under pressure. Those athletes who lack faith in their abilities have more trouble managing their emotions.

Courage: Athletes who believe in themselves are more likely to take a risk. In order to improve individually and as a team an athlete must step out of their comfort zone.

Consistency: An athlete can play their best on the worst day. They possess inner strength to block thoughts that would negatively impact performance.

What coaches don't realize is how much work goes into developing a mentally tough athlete and the impact of environmental influences. The most significant factor in preventing an athlete from being mentally tough is known as negative cognitions or thoughts. As humans we all have core beliefs about the way we see ourselves, others and the world based on life experiences. A young athlete who lives in the inner city is going to see the world differently than another young athlete who lives in a rural environment.

A therapeutic tool I commonly use with both my young patients and athletes is cognitive mapping. The athlete would identify a series of events, followed by their thoughts, feelings, behaviors and consequences. The athlete would be able to visually see how a particular event led to a specific thought. For example, a 13 year old male basketball player missed the winning foul shot and thought he must be a horrible athlete. As a result he may have felt depressed or angry, which resulted in giving up. The consequence was sitting the bench for not working hard after making a mistake. However, if the athlete was able to recognize the belief "I am a horrible athlete" as being irrational and change his thought about the experience, his feeling would also change.

Coaches can support their young athletes by encouraging them to set daily or short-term goals that are measurable. Children specifically like to set long-term goals like winning a conference championship or setting new personal records but lack action steps to get there. As a coach, be sure to know the goals of your athletes and check in frequently on their progress.

It is also important to stress the power of control each athlete carries as an individual and as a team. It is guaranteed mistakes will be made; however are your athletes responding by working harder or giving up? Mentally tough athletes have the ability to control their thoughts from becoming self-defeating. A baseball pitcher may walk a batter, but how he perceives the situation will impact the outcome of his next series of pitches.

Coaches play an intricate role in helping to develop mentally sound athletes at any level whether it's recreational or an elite program. Studies have proven that mental training will not only enhance performance and improve productivity but increase one's passion or enjoyment of the sport. However, achieving inner excellence takes time and effort in the same manner as physical training.

One of the biggest mistakes coaches make is having the need to improve performance solely through training and play. Realistically, ask yourself whether it's your need that's getting met or the need of your athletes. If you coach a high school team and have practice the week of finals be attentive to their emotions and take time to address what's on their mind. Performance training and talent can only go so far without the ability to conquer self-defeating thoughts.

Melissa Lambert LPC, M.Ed, YFS1, YNS, HSSCS Child and Adolescent Therapist