Archives for the month of: July, 2012

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Does that last position look familiar? You may or may not do it naked, but chances are you sit for most of the day. Here are my top 4 anti-sit stretches that you can do anywhere. Take a break every couple hours to do these stretches and you might just avoid some annoying aches and pains down the road.

1. Hip Flexors

Beginner

I haven’t been training for 20 years or anything, but I’ve yet to come across anyone with too flexible hip flexors. Get in the half kneeling position (seen above) and keep your torso nice and tall. Squeeze the butt cheek of the leg that’s down and you should feel a stretch at the top of your quad.

Moderate

Progress by taking 1 arm over head and bending to the opposite side. This will intensify the stretch.

Take hands up overhead to make it advanced

The last step will be to elevated the back foot using a bench, stool, couch or the likes. This will now stretch the hip flexors and quads from both the hip and knee joints.

2. Thoracic Spine

We have 3 main sections of the spine. Our cervical (neck), thoracic (mid back- aka t-spine), and lumbar (low back). We want to have good extension, flexion and rotation in our t-spine; and its where most people  lack.

The key for this stretch is to keep your feet, knees and hips stacked; don’t let the top leg shift when you open to twist. Your arm may not touch the ground at first but that’s okay. Spend some time relaxing and taking deep belly breaths (diaphragmatic breathing). The more you relax, the more your arm will sink. This might be my all time favorite stretch.

3. Chest 

The classic doorway stretch. This gets your shoulder out of that internally rotated position to open up the chest and shoulders. Make this dynamic by isometrically pushing into the wall for 6 seconds, and then relaxing for 20 for 3 rounds. You should be able to go deeper each round.

4. Shoulders

The towel stretch: Gently pull the towel up and down to get a stretch in the reciprocal pattern. Make sure to switch hand positions and go the other directions.

BONUS!! 

Lucky you! I’m giving you the money maker. If you have all the stretches in the world to choose from, and can only pick 1- this should be it. This stretch is dynamic, so a video will be better suited, but here’s a picture and description for those of you that are lazy enough to not watch the video 🙂

The Spider Man Stretch

Boo yeah!

Just kidding.

Take a larger than normal lunge forward with right foot and put both hands on the ground. Twist your right hand up toward the ceiling. Right hand down, right foot back (now you’re in plank position) – repeat with left side.

Here’s a video

Now get up and stretch!

-L

First off, I just want to say I completed my first Tough Mudder last weekend at Mount Snow in Vermont. It was ahhhsaaamm. Who doesn’t like jumping into ice baths and being voluntarily electrocuted?? Riddle me that.

My roommates and I right before jumping in the “Arctic Enema”

Also, I just want everyone to know that I rarely, if EVER run. You don’t have to run to be in good cardiovascular shape. Burpees and sled pushes anyone??

Totally candid. I flex randomly..

And in case you were wondering, my back held up well!

ANYWHO, let’s get to the more important stuff… fixing your DIET….

So say you had no job, no children, no stress, and all you had to focus on was planning your meals and workouts. You’d probably be pretty damn happy with the way you looked right?

Unfortunately, that’s not how life works. You have a job, you might have kids, and you most definitely have some kind of stress. Some weeks, work is just crazy, the kids have 15 activities you have to chauffeur them to, you have bills to pay, and what’s for dinner is the last thing on your mind. Next thing you know you’ve just housed a big mac and fries without even realizing you were eating.

Okay well I hope you know enough that there are healthier fast food options, but that’s besides the point

That’s healthy, right?

Anyway, I want to give you some of my basic guidelines that can be very easily made into a LIFESTYLE that you eventually won’t even have to think about. And notice how I say guidelines and not rules. You need to be flexible; some of these might work for you and some of them may not. You should try coming up with your own guidelines that work for you make you feel best.

1. Start with a food journal.
This idea is nothing new. Sometimes you don’t even realize what or how much you’re actually eating until its written and staring you in the face. The key is NOT change your diet during this time and record what you typically eat.  Start with two week days and one weekend day. Record EVERYTHING that goes in your mouth; water and liquids included.

2. Highlight in different colors your carbs, protein, veggies and water.

Look at your ratios. The typical diet will have a terribly off proportion of carbs to protein. Realistically, I like my clients to aim for a 1:1 ratio.

3. Fix your ratio.

Slowly. You can’t do a complete overhaul of your diet because that’s just setting yourself up for failure. You have to start slow. Delete 1 carb and add 1 protein. Veggies and fruit should be highlighted 5-10 times. If its less than that, you need to add some veggies.

4.  Fix your portions. 

A)  Share it. This can be as simple as ordering 1 entree and splitting it with a companion.

B)  Save it. One of my clients asked me how to deal with waiters that are constantly asking if everything’s okay because you’re not finishing your meal. This is my answer: ask for a to-go box before your meal comes and put 1/3-1/2 of your meal in it BEFORE you start eating. When you’ve cleaned your plate, you’ve now gotten your over-zealous waiter off your back, left overs for tomorrow, and the fantastic feeling of self control and accomplishment. You CAN be satisfied with less food; focus on quality over quantity. Your taste buds and waistline will thank you.

C) Toss it. Seriously- you need to get out of the mentality that you have to clean your plate. You’re not saving any children in Africa… you’re only harming yourself. Toss it if you don’t have the ability to share, save or make/order smaller portions.

D) Leave 2 bites on your plate at every meal. If you’re having a hard time downsizing your portions, start with literally 2 bites. It easier said than done– but challenge yourself to see if you can do it at every meal for 1 week. You’ll realize that you actually CAN do it. I’ve heard before that will power is a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.

5. Create guidelines for yourself.

To give you an example, here are a few of my guidelines.  Timing is big for me because if I forget to eat, I’ll find myself ravenous and binging. My schedule is different every day- so I set these guidelines:

A. Wake up between 4:30-6:30, have breakfast between 8-10, lunch between 12-3, a snack before leaving work, and dinner whenever I get home.

B. My hunger is most manageable when my breakfast is small, my lunch is large, and my afternoon snack is almost always a protein shake. Dinner usually consists of protein and veggies.

C. Focus on whole, non-processed food.

D. Drink my daily intake of water before I leave work.

Those are just a few, but most important ones to me. Figure out what kind of eating makes you feel best and write it down. Leave your list somewhere you will see it all the time.

6. Hold yourself accountable.

Keep a 2-day food journal once a month to check yourself.

Just remember: You Are In Control.

-L

If you’ve been following along for the past couple weeks, you know that I’ve recently experienced debilitating back pain for the first time in my life.  It’s still bothering me and I’m on a quest to find out what’s wrong.  Here’s what I know I do right:

1. I workout consistently

2. I train my core (crunches not included)

3. I train my posterior (dare I say almost exclusively.) This in includes deadlifts, hip thrusts, squats, pullups, rows ect.

4. I practice mobility and stability drills daily.

5. I pay attention to my posture and position when I’m sitting, standing,  and sleeping. I even make sure I carry my bag on my right side on the way to work, and the left side on the way back!

6. My breathing mechanics are optimal. (diaphragmatic breathing as opposed to chest breathing)

7. I drink lots of water, eat well, sleep well, and practice stress management.

What the heck!

These are all the things I educate my clients about on a daily basis. So what’s wrong with me? I thought: I must have some structural or muscular imbalance that lifting has exacerbated. So, off to Perfect Postures I went. PP is a facility run by Aaron Brooks in Newton, Ma. They do great work with postural assessments and corrective exercise.

Sure enough, I had a pretty significant left hip elevation. So for the past 6-8 weeks I’ve been doing my corrective exercises diligently, staying away from lifting, and maintaining all my health points.

So here we are, 8 weeks out, and my back is still sensitive.

And I can’t deal with not training any more. So today, I checked my ego, and did a very basic rehab-ish training session:

Warm up included corrective exercises and mobility and stability work

1a) Side lying clams 3×10/side

1b) Lateral band walks 3×10/direction

1c) Shoulders elevated BW hip thrusts 3×10

2a) Hands elevated push ups 3×8

2b) Plank 3x30s

2c) Side plank 3x10s/side

2d) Pallof Press 3×8/side (with 15lbs)

Yes, I know. It looks similar to 85 year old’s program. But what can I say? Sometimes you have to break yourself down to build yourself up.

Work it G-pa

So what’s my next plan of action?

After talking to my colleague and coworker Steve Bergeron, we’ve decided that it probably isn’t a postural issue, a movement pattern issue, a mobility issue or stability issue and that I should probably see a doctor. Although I’m not a huge fan of doctors, I think that has to be my next step to make sure my spine is okay. I’m also going to continue with my correctives and my mild strength training routine.

Well- I’m off to do some research. If you guys have any suggestions on a good ortho/back specialist/chiro please let me know!

Thanks for reading,

-L

This post could also be titled “stuff you should read” but I wanted to give a short preface.

 

I stumbled across the articles below in a timely manner. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but my training log has been pretty inactive lately. My low back spasmed on me about 6 weeks ago and I was out of work for 3 days. To make a long story short I haven’t been able to lift heavy like I normally do in training, and it’s killing me.

My weight’s crept up about 3 pounds and I checked my body fat for the first time in a while- and let’s just say I was not pleased. I was in a bad mood for the rest of the day!

This got me thinking in two different directions:

A. This proves the positive effects of lifting heavy.

B. Why do we need to be so obsessed with the numbers on the scale? Will being 15% body fat rather than 22% body fat really improve my health enough to strive for it? Does the mere stress of striving for it do more harm than good? I think the answer to the last question is yes.

To quote a friend of mine, Katie Mack: “Eating like a normal human being and training to get strong is probably the best way to live. ”

I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes I like to get pinkberry with my friends. And I’m not gunna stop because I feel like I can’t be happy unless I have 15% body fat. To put it simply: Having pinkberry makes me happier than having 15% body fat. Enjoying social situations with food is, in my opinion, one of the best parts of life.

My body isn’t perfect. But why does it need to be? I’m healthy, strong, confident and comfortable. (and not to sound conceited, but I’ve never had a problem in the … we’ll call it ‘flirting’ department).

I just had to…

So with that preface not being so short, here’s some ‘stuff you should read!’ The first is an article on body image from the website whole9life.com. And the second is from a fantastic trainer/blogger named Nia Shanks. Enjoy!

How Perfect is the Perfect Body?

Letting Go of the Fat loss Mindset

Stop Weighing on the Scale- Why, How to get Better Results, and a Challange

 

-L