Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Give yourself permission for You Time and get in shape

Today's post is a guest post over at Workout Mommy. After having our second son, I learned an important lesson about making the time for myself and getting to the gym. Go check it out!

Thanks to Lisa for the opportunity to post over at Workout Mommy!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Eye Of The Tiger. How to get the most out of your workout

Many people who workout are just going through the motions. At one point they may have had some motivation or were working towards a goal. Then, either the goal is long term, they met their goal and are maintaining or have lost sight and or motivation. Sometimes people do their workout just to do it without getting much from it other than saying they did it.

Whatever the circumstance, it takes focus to change your body and it takes focus to get a worthwhile workout. It takes the Eye Of The Tiger. The hunger and fire from within. Here are a couple of techniques to help you get that edge and maximize your time for optimum results.

Visualization is a powerful tool in making a change, be it physical or mental. It's a technique that works for everyone from the athlete to the beginner at home and it's something that can be applied to every aspect of your life. There are different ways to use visualization in your workout. You can start by visualizing yourself once you've met your fitness goal. Imagine what you look like or your performance in the skills you trained for. Visualizing yourself being successful works wonders.

In the short term, you can also use visualization on a physical level in every workout. While lifting, rather than thinking about your day, the errands you have to run, the conversation with your spouse, the challenges at work - focus on your body and how it's moving and working. With every rep, feel the muscle contraction, focus on your form and notice how your body functions in a bicep curl or a squat. Not only will this help you to become more familiar with your body and keep your focus on your workout, but it will also help to prevent any injuries during your routine.

Another great technique to get more from your workout is to tap into your emotions. Your time at the gym can be cathartic. Some of the best workouts are not only a physical experience, but emotional and spiritual as well. This is can also be an awesome way to purge any ill feelings like anger, rage, resentment and annoyance. By using these powerful emotions you can add fuel to your inner fire to propel you into an intense workout, usually best done during cardio. It's a quick way to get that "runners high". The best part is not only purging those feelings to your benefit in the gym, but reaping the rewards with the end result feeling clear and refreshed.

If you're lost in your routine and needing a little something extra to get you through, try these techniques to see how much of a difference they can make. You'll be pleasantly surprised that they can make a world of difference in a short amount of time.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Back to normal

What started out as a holiday break from writing and focusing on fitness soon turned into a medical leave of absence on the blog here. Shortly after the holidays I became sick, nauseas, tired and just not feeling right. I knew right away that our plans to have another baby were now solid. I was pregnant.

When I am pregnant, I always and forever will develop a complication called Hyperemesis. Over the last few months, I was severely dehydrated and starving due to unrelenting nausea and vomiting. I lost 20 pounds (of muscle, of course) and had to discontinue my workout routine. I couldn't get off the couch let alone do a bicep curl.

Now that the medication is working and the hormones that cause me to be close to death are stabilizing, I feel like I can once again take some time and focus on writing fitness tips and advice - which is great because I feel like I lost some brain power along with the muscle mass.

Posts may not be daily, but they will be at least weekly for now. Since the weather is warming up and people are realizing that swim suit season is right around the corner, more and more people have been asking me about starting my online training program, so the Cyber-Client list has been updated as well.

I have a lot of topics running through my head from marathon training to prenatal workouts (obviously). Hopefully I can get this thing rolling again!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I'll let you in on a little secret. Everything you need to know about getting a gym membership

I've often said that you don't need to have a gym membership in order to get in shape. However, the winter months are quickly approaching and the days of workouts at the park are slipping through our fingers. While some people may want to take their workouts indoors at home, others may be headed to the gym to get the job done.

Gyms are not a bad place to workout. In fact, this is my preferred workout location. There is a variety of equipment, group class options and it's a fun place to people watch. There is a different and often, more motivating energy that can be felt there as well. One of the downsides to working out in a gym is trying to navigate the sales process when looking to purchase your membership. I've worked in a large corporate gym for a few years and know the ins and outs of the car salesman-like tactics that a potential gym member may run into. I'm going to spill the beans on what the sales team might pull on you and things to look for when trying to find the right gym for your workouts.

Location, Location, Location
This is the first thing you want to consider when looking for the right gym. If you have a lengthy commute, it may end up squashing your motivation. The last thing an individual wants to think about when going to the gym is fighting traffic to get there. More often than not, the decision to lounge around at home on the couch will beat the dreaded drive and throw you off the wagon.

Does Size Matter
Some people don't like to workout in a crowd while others may really enjoy the social interaction. Gyms come in all shapes and sizes from high traffic corporate conglomerates to friendly neighborhood "women's only" fitness centers, so finding a gym to suite your comfort level is easy. It's important to find a gym that fits your personality and style. A shy, reserved person is not going to feel comfortable at the commercial club and may end up being intimidated before even walking through the door.

They've Got What You're Looking For
Do you prefer to do circuit training? Do spin classes give you the cardio rush you need on your lunch hour? When touring a potential gym, make sure they have what you need and that it's working. All gyms have elliptical trainers in their cardio station but they aren't going to do you any good if they are perpetually out of order.

Nothing In Life Is Free
Be wary of the free membership trials or free sessions with a personal trainer. This is only a marketing ploy to get you in and talking to a salesman. Sure, you may get to use the gym for a week, but you'll have to sit in the membership sales pit and listen to the "fitness counselor" go through the "7 steps to overcoming an objection" and other sales techniques they learned at the Monday morning meeting. If you're not privy to these business practices, you may end up with a gym membership that you had no intention of singing up for. The same goes for personal trainers. They might take you through a workout on a circuit station, but it's mostly to show you what you don't know about working out, making you feel like you would be lost without their services.

After you've found a gym that's convenient and comfortable with the equipment needed for your training program, you're ready to rock. Don't let the gym staff suck you into any gimmicks or schemes and all you'll have to think about is how much you can bench!

Monday, October 29, 2007

It's time for...Cyber-Client Results!

People have been working out, eating right and achieving great results. Here are some updates from people who've been following the program:

Wendy- Finished another marathon with great time and a wonderful attitude. Amazingly, she finished the race with a blister and a leg cramp, but that was it! If she recovers fast enough, she wants to run another marathon...in 5 weeks. WOW!

Robin- Despite having a few non-workout related injuries, she's still been able to lose 10 pounds and keep it off because she's been great about following her nutrition plan!

Cheri- Continues to buy new clothes because all of her others are getting way too big. Nice!

Ellen- After only a few weeks on the plan, she's lost about 6 pounds and has been shopping for new clothes as well. She's excited about feeling great in her new clothes for an upcoming vacation. I'm excited for her too!

These are great results!! I'm so happy for all of them and I'm excited to see what else they can achieve!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Trick or Treat? What you need to know about artificial sweeteners

The holidays are just around the corner and before you know it, your house will be full of sugary treats. The average American eats approximately 170 pounds of sugar a year or 20 teaspoons a day and considering what the average American looks like, it shows! Is there a way to enjoy our favorite desserts while still keeping our waistlines in check? Artificial sweeteners can help make our indulgences a little lighter but they aren't a guiltless delight.

They go by several names, including sugar substitute, non-nutritive sweetener, very low calorie sweetener, or alternative sweetener. But one thing is common. They all taste similar to sugar with little to no calories or glycemic response. Each substitute is also sweeter than sugar, meaning that a little goes a long way.

Currently the FDA has approved five types of sugar substitutes for use in the United States:

Saccharin is the oldest artificial sweetener, developed in 1879. It is 200 to 700 times sweeter than sugar. After being suspected of causing bladder cancer in rats in 1972, many studies were done which ultimately disproved any link to cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, "Human epidemiology studies (studies of patterns, causes, and control of diseases in groups of people) have shown no consistent evidence that saccharin is associated with bladder cancer incidence." Saccharin has been considered safe for human consumption since 2002 and is marketed under the brand names SweetN' Low, Sweet Twin and Necta Sweet.

Aspartame was approved by the FDA in 1981. It is 200 times sweeter than sugar. Its chemical compound breaks down into a substance known as phenylalanine. This can pose a danger for people who have Phenylketonuria, (PKU) but overall, aspartame is considered safe for the general public. Equal and Nutrasweet are the brand names for aspartame.

Acesulfame-K was approved in 1988 as a "tabletop sweetener" and in 2003 as a general purpose sweetener. It is not metabolized by the body, which means that no calories are absorbed when eaten. It is 200 times sweeter than sugar. It is marketed under the brand names, Sweet One and Sunett. It is frequently blended with other artificial sweeteners.

Sucralose comes from sugar, but it is 600 times sweeter. It isn't absorbed by the body, so it does not add calories to foods. In 1999, it was approved as a general purpose sweetener. It can also be used in home baking to reduce calories in homemade foods. The brand name for sucralose is Splenda.

Neotame is a cousin to aspartame, and is 7,000 to 13,000 times sweeter than sugar. It was approved in 2002 as a general purpose sweetener. Although it is related to aspartame, it doesn't carry the same warning about phenylalanine, because a minimal amount of phenylalanine is produced during digestion. Neotame is not marketed under any brand names yet.

There are a few reasons why someone would consider using a sugar substitute:
  • Dental Hygiene — sugar substitutes are tooth friendly, as they are not fermented by the microflora of the dental plaque.
  • Diabetes mellitus — people with diabetes have difficulty regulating their blood sugar levels. By limiting their sugar intake with artificial sweeteners, they can enjoy a varied diet while closely controlling their sugar intake. Also, some sugar substitutes do release energy, but are metabolized more slowly, allowing blood sugar levels to remain more stable over time.
  • Reactive hypoglycemia — individuals with reactive hypoglycemia will produce an excess of insulin after quickly absorbing glucose into the bloodstream. This causes their blood glucose levels to fall below the amount needed for proper body and brain function. As a result, like diabetics, they must avoid intake of high glycemic foods like white bread, and often choose artificial sweeteners as an alternative.

While artificial sweeteners may reduce the calories in our favorite foods, they do not make them calorie-free. Many people consider artificial sweeteners an essential component to a weight loss program. These sugary treats may be a bit lite with sugar substitutes, but it's portion control that will keep you in your skinny jeans this holiday season.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

To ice or not to ice, that is the question. What you need to know about treating sports injuries.

While one of the aspects of working out using an integrated training program is to reduce the risk of injury, it does not completely eliminate that risk. Let's face it. You're bound to come across a soft tissue injury like a sprain, strain, tear or bruise at some point in your training. Once you've been injured, what do you do next? What is the best way to recover from a sports injury?

There is a plethora of information out there from reliable sources like your Doctor to old wives tales from your know-it-all neighbor down the street. It can be confusing to hear one person recommend ice while another will suggest using heat. So what is an injured athlete to do? Here's a run down of what to do if you've been benched because of an injury.

There are two types of injuries, actue and chronic. Acute injuries are those you have incurred within the last 48 hours. These are your typical sprains, strains, pulls and bruises. Acute injuries tend to have a lot of swelling when the tissue is damaged and possibly bleeds internally. Chronic injuries are those nagging aches and pains that you've been dealing with for weeks if not years. This include arthritis and overuse injuries like carpel tunnel, tendonitis and shin splints, just to name a few.

For Acute Injuries:
First and foremost, stop. Whatever you're doing; running, playing tennis, lifting weights, just stop. By continuing the activity trying to "work through the pain" you will only make it worse. Ignoring the problem won't make it go away and it certainly won't just heal on it's own. "No pain, no gain" is not a mantra to live by and is truly a fitness myth. When soft tissue is damaged it swells. The swelling causes pain and a decrease in motion which limits the use of the muscles. Continuing the activity after incurring the injury will increase the swelling and the pain, causing more damage and a longer recovery time.

Next is R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). Resting the injury will give your body the appropriate time it needs to heal, without re-injury causing the acute injury to become a chronic injury. Using ice will help to reduce the initial swelling which will help to reduce the pain. Never use heat on an acute injury, as heat will induce swelling and inflammation, not reduce it. Compression by using tape or a wrap will help to keep swelling to a minimum and offer additional structural support to the injured body part. Finally, elevating the injury keeping it above heart level will continue to reduce swelling as well.

A few days of using R.I.C.E should help your body heal and ready to start training again. You'll want to take it easy and start with corrective exercise and stabilization training (phase 1 and 2) in the NASM OPT Model, no matter what stage of training you were in when you were injured.

For Chronic Injuries:
Chronic injuries tend to have a lot of built up scar tissue that immobilizes the joint and decreases the contraction of the muscle, which combined, decreases function and performance. By using heat prior to the activity, it will help to relax and loosen the tissues and increase blood flow to the area. Using ice afterward will help reduce the pain and swelling, just like an acute injury.

By following the guidelines in corrective exercise and stabilization training when you begin working out, you can "re-train" your body to work efficiently, minimizing the flare up of a chronic injury.

Here is a quick guide on what to do and when:

Ice or Heat?

Ice Heat
When To Use Use ice after an acute injury, such as an ankle sprain, or after activities that irritate a chronic injury, such as shinsplints. Use heat before activities that irritate chronic injuries such as muscle strains. Heat can help loosen tissues and relax injured areas.
How To Do It Read through the information on how to ice an injury. There are several ways to ice an injury. Heating pads or hot wet towels are both excellent methods. Place a washcloth under hot tap water and then apply to the injured area.
For How Long Apply ice treatments for no longer than 20 minutes at a time. Too much ice can do harm, even cause frostbite; more ice application does not mean more relief. It is not necessary to apply a heat treatment for more than about 20 minutes at a time. Never apply heat while sleeping.

The information in this article is not a substitute for medical advice. If you have incurred a sports injury, please see your Doctor for a proper diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan.