Seems like I hear more and more from clients and friends that they have stiff shoulders and backs. This is the time of year when that type of things becomes more common.
Car trips for fall break and holidays, the stress of year end work, holiday stress, etc... When you sit in a car or at a computer for too long, you will experience pain, it doesn't matter if you have perfect posture.
The absolute best way to avoid this is to get up frequently throughout the day. Every 15 minutes if possible, but at least once every hour. Get up, walk around, and stretch.
Something else you can do that is very helpful is this quick circuit:
|Upper back and shoulder stiffness|
Thanks again YouTube for picking a super, awkward thumbnail of me. It takes 10 minutes or less to get through, but it will make you feel so much better. Give it a try some time!
1. 10 Band pull aparts (knuckles up)
2. 10 Band pull aparts (palms up)
3. 10 Dislocators (back to front is one rep)
4. 10 Rolls on upper back
5. 10 Rolls on each shoulder blade
6. Repeat the whole circuit 2 more times as time permits
Fairly simple, but very effective especially when you do it consistently. Hope it helps you!
Will power is weak, while systems are strong. No matter how mentally tough you are, you will eventually break down if you don’t set yourself up for success.
I read an article in the October issue of IDEA Fitness Journal that discussed the topic of overeating. This is a topic near and dear to my food loving heart so I read it with great interest.
Part of the article was a section about setting up your environment to prevent overeating. Dr. Brian Wansink, the director of Cornell Food and Brand Lab, had 3 tips to make your kitchen or office space a healthier environment.
1. Fill up the fruit bowl
This one has a tow fold effect. First, every time you walk by the fruit bowl it is a reminder to eat healthy foods. Much like having a bowl of Hershey’s kisses out will have the opposite effect.
The second reason is when you have readily accessible food like that you are, more likely to eat it. Right now we have grapes in a fruit bowl and a chopped broccoli and hummus in the fridge at my house. Easy, healthy grab and go snacks can be life savers.
2. Make the kitchen less “loungeable”
Totally stealing his word on this one. The longer you hang out in the kitchen, the more likely you are to start eating. Even if you are not hungry. Take iPads, TVs, comfortable chairs, etc… out of the kitchen.
3. Be grateful
This was a really interesting one to me. Dr. Wansink recommends saying one thing you are grateful for before you eat. He says it will improve your eating choices. That one is a new one to me, but I am a big believer in gratitude so I am going to give it a shot.
These are some great tips to help you avoid the trap of mindless overeating. Do you have any other tips to share that work for you? If so, I would love to hear them!
I have been working on a project for a long time and it is finally becoming real. On Sunday, November 5th the 1st annual Rocket City Adventure Race will be coming to downtown Huntsville!
Myself and Girls On The Run (a local non-profit) will be putting on the event. The race will start at 2pm and it is a partner race. This is a race for all ages and for all fitness levels. If you want to walk the whole thing, go for it! The main goal is to have fun and support a great cause.
The race is FREE but we are taking donations for Girls On The Run. Girls On The Run is an activity-based character development program for girls throughout North Alabama. It is a great organization and 100% of the proceeds will go to them.
There will be physical as well as mental challenges along the 2.7 mile long course. Some activities you will encounter are: putt putt golf, riddles, fitness station, and even a selfie station. This will be the most unique race you will experience this year and it won't cost a thing.
Find your partner now! The race is less than a month away. You can sign up here ----> Rocket City Adventure Race
I will give you more updates as we get closer, but feel free to reach out with any questions you might have. It's going to be awesome!
In my last post, I mentioned the research backing High Intensity Interval Training (the cool kids call it HIIT) as a time saving form of exercise. You will even see benefits from using HIIT if you use them in your walking program. Just by going a little bit faster a few times during your walk.
HIIT mixes intense exercise with low intensity “breaks”. I promised to give you a HIIT workout like the ones we do in our boot camps. And that is what I will do my friend!
For this HIIT workout we will do 30 seconds of all out effort followed by 30 seconds of a low intensity version of the same exercise.
Below are your exercises. Do 4 rounds of each (4 hard, 4 low intensity for each exercise, then move on to the next exercise in the series).
1. Kettlebell or dumbbell swings (low intensity do them without the weight or a lower weight)
2. High knees
3. Squats (for lower intensity you can use a lighter weight, no weight, and/or slow down your pace)
4. Knees (one foot forward, one foot back, drive your knee up as hard and as fast as you can. Change side every round.)
5. Seal jacks (arms and legs start out wide, jump them all together and clap your hands like a seal).
In 20 minutes you will work muscles from head to toe, get your heart rate up, get a good sweat in, and feel great afterwards. Plus you will get all the cardiovascular fitness, insulin resistance, and cellular level benefits I mentioned in my last post.
Give this one a try and let me know what you think!
In my last post I talked about using the Kaizen method to form good habits. I used some examples that were shockingly small.
But research has shown there is a way to pack 45 minutes of exercise into 1 minute. It sounds like a product that you would see on late night TV with 8 Minute Abs and something that makes Ramen Noodles cook EVEN faster.
Researchers compared a group of young men who were to perform moderate cardiovascular exercise versus a group of young men who would perform High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). The wanted to see if there were changes in aerobic fitness, how well they could control blood sugar, and muscle function at the cell level.
The first group did a 2-minute warm-up, rode 45 minutes on a stationary bike, and then did a 3-minute cool down. The other group warmed up for 2 minutes, went as hard as they could for 20 seconds, went 2 minutes very slowly, and then repeated that sequence for a total of 3 sets in 10 minutes. Both groups exercised 3 days per week.
Both groups ended up with:
-20% increase in cardiovascular endurance
-improved insulin resistance
-great increases in cells that produce energy and oxygen in the muscles
Would you rather exercise for 27 hours or 6 hours (with only 36 minutes being hard) to get the same benefit? That’s a pretty easy choice for me.
But, there is always a but, HIIT is not easy! It is also not the only way I recommend you exercise. There are some days you are just not in the mood for intense exercise. Going for a long run, hike, swim, bike ride, etc… at a leisurely pace is still great for your body as well as your mind.
In my next post I will put up a HIIT workout similar to what we do in our boot camp classes.
Bigger is better. We do not like things to be small. When we make changes, they need to be huge and life changing RIGHT AWAY!
And that is where most of us fail.
-I need to quit smoking, I'm going cold turkey.
-2017 is going to be the year I will workout EVERY day.
-Time to clean up the old diet! Get out of here pizza and pasta, get in here broccoli and beets. Salads and water until I lose 40 pounds and get back into those Jordache jeans from 6th grade.
Those scenarios usually end up like you think they would. Our brains are hardwired to make change difficult.
This is a great quote from Robert Maurer's book One Small Step Can Change Your Life, The Kaizen Way:
“All changes, even positive ones, are scary. Attempts to reach goals through radical or revolutionary means often fail because they heighten fear. But the small steps of kaizen disarm the brain’s fear response, stimulating rational thought and creative play.”
Kaizen is the art of making great and lasting change through small, steady steps. It is about getting 1% better every day by doing things that seem so tiny they should be irrelevant.
Two examples of this are:
Eating just one less bite of food every meal. Then a month later, you eat two less bites.
Start an exercise program by just standing on a treadmill for one minute a day.
Those seem like such tiny things, but you don't stop there. You continue to slowly make progress, build confidence, and stick to the program.
Where are you stuck? What is it that you can not seem to accomplish? Are you willing to try something new?
It will take patience, but if you are willing to persist the Kaizen method may be just the thing you need to finally succeed.
In study published in BMC Public Health, researchers wanted to know why some women exercised and others did not. The women were asked:
-what their physical activity levels were
-what they thought about exercise
-what made them feel happy and successful
-what a perfect day looked like for them
-if they considered exercise a priority
All the women in the study had 4 main things that made them happy:
1. Connecting with others
2. Being of service to others
3. Participating in leisure activities and hobbies
4. Feeling relaxed and free from daily pressures
To feel successful the women in the study wanted to contribute to the success of others, accomplish goals, and professional achievements.
Those were the things they could agree on. But when it came to views on physical activity, there was a stark difference.
The “low active” women thought exercise:
-was selfish and took time away from their family
-created stress in their life
-required too much commitment/intense effort
-this intense effort was taking away their need to relax
The “high active” group held the opposite viewpoint on exercise.
Exercise is not punishment! It is not something you do because you had birthday cake at the office or a couple of glasses of wine the night before.
Exercise is a reward to your body! It can make you a better mom, sister, wife, grandmother, employee, and boss.
It can get rid of the stress you are feeling.
It does not take 2 hours a day every day to get in shape. You can see results in whatever time you can fit in, if you are willing to try. I guarantee you have the time, but sometimes you have to make the time if it is not already there.
You do not have to deadlift 500 pounds, do burpees all day, or anything else that seems too intense for you. What do you enjoy doing? Do that!
When you exercise regularly, you are able to relax better. When you relax better, you can sleep better at night. When you get more quality sleep you get more energy. It is a rewarding cycle, not one that decreases your quality of life.
Our boot camps use these principles successfully. It is a place where women can go to connect with others, help each other out, accomplish goals, and get rid of stress at their pace and individual fitness level. For at least that one hour, they can sweat, smile, laugh, and be with their friends in a stress free and positive environment.
That one hour pays dividends throughout the day. These are moms, sisters, wives, grandmothers, employees, and bosses who are better equipped to do the things they need to do during the day. They are stronger mentally, physically, and emotionally because of exercise not in spite of it.
This study did not mention one thing about the physical difference in these women. It only mentioned one thing, their attitudes. And that is great news, because that is what you have complete control over.
So if you consider yourself “low activity” it is time to change how you look at exercise. Find a way to move that makes you feel good and do that! Regular exercise will pay dividends across all areas of your life.
Give it a shot. There are women just like you, who change their lives every day by starting with just one exercise session. Why not you?
The other day I was all excited about my workout. I couldn’t wait to take a trip to Muscleville, population me.
I’m just a few sets in to my very first exercise and it happens. Stinking back spasms.
Not sure if you have ever had back spasms before but they are not much fun. The bad part is that is was completely my own fault that I got them.
If you were making a formula to give yourself back spasms, I came up with a pretty good one. First you get about 4 hours of sleep the night before, then, you drink lots of coffee to make up for that, do NOT rehydrate with water, eat not so great foods, sit a lot working on a project, rush through your warm-up, and then go too heavy too fast doing squats.
That will pretty much do it if you are looking to experience some sympathy back spasms with me. And I knew not to do all of these things, but I still did them. Do you ever get yourself in those situations where you know better, but do it any way?
The first lesson here is to always prepare for your workouts. If you are tired, dehydrated, your nutrition has been terrible, you’ve been sitting all day, and you halfway go through your warm-up chances are good you could injure yourself.
The second lesson was what I did after I got the back spasms. I obviously was finished with my heavy squats and deadlifts for the day, but that did not mean my workout was finished. I found some things I could do (wall sits, bodyweight squats, rear foot elevated squats) and not be completely miserable. Then the next day, I found upper body exercises I could still do.
When you have an injury, you can choose to give up or adapt. I always choose to adapt and you should too. It’s not time to throw in the towel because you are uncomfortable or it’s too hard. What CAN you do? Put the focus there.
Maybe it is time to clean up your nutrition, decrease your stress levels, or improve your sleep quality. If your lower body, upper body, or core is injured find what you can still work on and do that! Studies show doing something works 100% better than feeling sorry for yourself.
If you need help on finding what exercises you can still do, some lifestyle changes you can make, or anything else feel free to reach out to me. Don’t give in, awesomeness is still attainable at all levels of life.
One of the gifts I got my wife for her 40th birthday was a ticket to the Moon Over Three Caves Dance. We’ve been trying to go for years and I am so glad we went because it was awesome!
They had one of our favorite bands, Juice, playing. They actually played at our wedding, so my wife was really excited to see them.
On special occasions, I will take my unique talents to the dance floor. I give the gift of dance to all who are around me because I am a giver. I am familiar with most of the popular line dances, but they all tend to kind of run together for me until I find my way.
Juice played The Wobble at one point and I found myself in a familiar position of knowing just enough to be dangerous. I knew all of The Wobble steps, but I may or may have not had the correct order.
The dance floor was in a state of confusion. There were several people who were thrown off by the slightly different rendition of The Wobble. Some were thrown off by the fact they had no idea what was happening. And others might have been thrown off by the glare on my head.
Somebody needed to do something! They needed guidance. They needed a hero.
They needed a ginger.
So I went all in. I did things big, I did things on the 4 count. I did all the steps you’re supposed to do. I have no idea if it was in the right order, but I did it with gusto.
A funny thing happened. People started following my lead and doing the same flawed moves. It was like that dance scene in Can’t Buy Me Love if you’ve ever seen that.
There are a few lessons to take away from this.
1. You have control over two things in life: attitude and effort.
This is something we preach to our 11 and 12-year old football players all the time. You don’t have control over how fast or big you are, but you do have control over how hard you work and your positivity.
The same thing applies to your exercise program. You can’t control genetics, your schedule, and hundreds of other things. You do have control of how much effort you put into it and whether or not you are going to stick with it. Go hard.
2. Psychology trumps physiology.
One of the top guys in the fitness world, Alwyn Cosgrove says this. That just means there is a lot you can overcome going all in with the help of others. You don’t have to have the perfect exercise program to get results. Don’t overthink what exercises to do, how many times, how many days, etc… A group atmosphere has been proven to help you increase your intensity, overcome fatigue, and get you better results.
3. Be careful who you follow, they probably have no idea what they are doing.
Especially when it comes to dancing.