Everything In Moderation

Common causes, injuries, and solutions to the problem.

This week I wanted to talk about over-training and injury. This topic is particularly important to me because, well, it’s a big part of why I went to school to be an Athletic Trainer. In High School I played a lot of sports, and as a result, sustained a lot of injuries from over-training. So today I will share common causes, injuries, and solutions to the problem.
The Problem
Over-training is a complex beast. It’s determined by an imbalance of pro- and anti-inflammatory factors, and can rear its ugly head at the worst of times. When it comes down to it, over-training occurs when the body doesn’t have enough time to recover, and can manifest in the following ways:
elevated resting heart rate and blood pressure
loss of appetite and weight loss
chronic fatigue, workouts described as draining
chronic soreness/slow recovery rates
an increase in colds or infections
a decrease in performance, or an inability to reach training goals
lack of enthusiasm, psychological staleness
Injuries
It’s important to note that while experiencing muscle pain is normal, not all pain is good pain. Make sure you know the difference before you run to the doctor with every little nagging problem, or conversely, avoid the doc when you do have an issue. 
As a result, injuries can also pile up. I commonly see injuries of the shoulder, lower back pain, and even shin splints due to over-training just to name a few. In particular, the shoulder can be fickle. From weight lifting, to swimming, or even throwing a ball around, the shoulder is the poor joint we love to overuse. Some symptoms to look out for include an obvious deformity, it gets popped out of place, difficulty lifting the arm, clicking or popping sensation deep in the shoulder, and/or pain reaching across your body. These symptoms warrant a trip to your favorite doctor, but the good news is that many shoulder injuries DON’T require being sliced and diced to fix them.
Solution
To avoid missing long stints of exercise, you will want to treat over-training by doing… well… nothing! One of my favorite sayings is “you don’t build muscles in the gym. You build them in bed.” The key here is to make sure that you are getting enough rest and proper food to support your physical activity. You should also make sure you shake things up here and there. Doing the same thing over and over again can be stressful on the body and mind, so moderation is crucial. In fact, doing a mix of cardio, weight lifting, and HIIT (join me Monday nights at 6:15 for our HIIT Grit team training) is optimal for reaching almost any goal. On that note, it’s important to remember that you will want to increase intensity carefully. You should make small steps every day toward those goals, one pound or mile at a time. Finally, you will want to take a chill pill. Everyday stress can affect our performance in the gym, so grab a stress ball (or a beer), take deep breaths, and smile more often to feel more refreshed.

Health And Happiness

With most of us becoming fitness slackers during the long Christmas and New Years vacation time, I thought I would summarize some of the best tips on how to not gain weight.

With most of us becoming fitness slackers during the long Christmas and New Years vacation time, I thought I would summarize some of the best tips on how to not gain weight. I use the term not gain for a reason. During this time of year you should be able to enjoy the foods you want to eat, drink the alcohol you want to drink, and cherish the precious time with your family without feeling any guilt. So today I am going to go over the best fitness, nutrition, and lifestyle choices to make to get you through the season sane and slim!
Fitness
If your goal is to get buff during the holiday season… well then the best of luck to ya! I personally aim to maintain my fitness level. Health and fitness should rightfully take a back seat to the enjoyment of friends and family during this time of year. However, this does not mean you should stop exercising completely. In fact, it’s the best thing you can do to not gain weight! So here’s what you should do.
 1. Make physical activity a part of your holiday routine. Don’t be a lemming. Just because everyone else wants to be lazy doesn’t mean that you should be lazy too.
 2. Eat the friggin delicious holiday food. Just be mindful to not eat everything just because it’s in front of you.
 3. Plan around the obstacles. Not having equipment and traveling shouldn’t be your downfall. Follow the links here and here for exercise programs you can do anywhere.
Nutrition
Absolutely nothing can replace the joy of eating grandmas famous Christmas cookies (at least for me this is true). So any advice you get telling you not to, will simply rob you of joy in my opinion. This is because, medical conditions aside, carbs aren’t inherently bad for you and they certainly wont make you fat. They can do harm when over consumed, just like proteins and fats will, but they won’t mess with your insulin causing fat gain (again medical conditions aside). Just don’t go nuts on the macadamia cookies and you will be okay. This goes for the prepackaged stuff as well. Because “eating clean” really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, so don’t fear the not so home made apple pie. And when it comes to alcohol, the message is the same. Moderation is crucial, and there’s no need to worry about gaining weight or losing those guns you worked so hard to polish.
Lifestyle Choices
There are plenty of bloggers claiming to know the secret to the perfect lifestyle. But in reality, you are the only one who knows what’s best for you. Making good responsible choices is a complex process. In my opinion there are many things to consider outside of your immediate actions on you overall health. Think about what brings you joy over the holidays. Think about the choices you make, and how you make them. Savor the moments by take the time to “check in”, pay attention, and be present. Reach out by connecting with friends, family, and whoever else you consider your “tribe.” Consider how you might be able to share good health and well-being with others during this important time of the year. Here are an additional seven things to consider when trying to stay on track over the holidays.
 1. When you’re feeling stressed (which has been known to happen when around a lot of family), take a big belly breath or eight.
 2. Eat slowly, with moderate pauses between bites. The saying “savor the flavor” reigns true for this one.
 3. Be mindful of hunger. Don’t just eat because it’s time to eat or there’s something in front of you. Listen to your body and it will tell you when to eat and when enough is enough.
 4. Make mindful choices. Similar to being mindful of hunger, your body will tell you what to eat. Pick out only the thing you want, and when they are on your dish you can choose to eat what tastes good and leave the rest on the plate, or try something else.
 5. Distinguish between desire and craving.
 6. Practice generosity. Cook, eat, and share food with other to truly get the most out of this holiday season.
 7. Express your gratitude. According to research, this simple action increases our inclination to be caring, compassionate, honest and respectful.
 
I truly hope everyone has a wonderful time with their friends and family over the holiday season.

Move More, Eat Less?

One phrase that gets thrown around a lot is “move more, eat less” for anyone who wants to lose weight. Because… you know… it’s just that simple. Right?

Resolution season is in full swing, and so is terrible health and fitness advice season. One phrase that gets thrown around a lot is “move more, eat less” for anyone who wants to lose weight. Because… you know… it’s just that simple. Right? No not at all. We spend our entire lives getting to the point we are at now. This means we have to break lifelong habits and create new ones to suit our goals. However, to lose weight we do have to burn more calories than we consume. That’s why today’s post is about practical ways to start your weight loss journey without losing your resolution mojo by Valentine’s day.
Never Be Hungry
WHAT?!?!?! Eat food to lose weight? There are actually great reasons to never be hungry. Generally speaking, people are really bad at being hungry. It’s distracting, and can be constant reminder that we’re denying ourselves and that we’re struggling. It also makes us more likely to give into temptation (cake looks a lot more tempting on an empty stomach). This can create a feedback loop where the harder we try to diet, the more likely we are to fail. To avoid the feedback loop, think “more is less.”
More Is Less
Obviously you don’t want to eat just anything to stay full. Making smarter choices will mean that you stay full while consuming fewer calories. What I really mean is that you should have;
      More colorful vegetables,
      More water,
      More lean protein,
      and more healthy fats (olive oil, avocados, walnuts, etc.).
By doing these things we will eat less calories by crowding them out with more nutritious, fibrous, and filling foods. By eating more will be less hungry and less likely to feel like we’re denying ourselves things. These steps will also help us avoid eating the “healthy” foods, like 100 calorie cookie snack packs, that don’t fill us up. In addition to being weary of the “healthy” label on foods, consider high intensity interval training (HIIT). Using HIIT training has been shown to decrease the feelings of hunger, while cardio training has been shown to increase the feelings of hunger. Come to our free Grit demos these next few weeks to see how a safe, motivating, and effective HIIT program is done!
 
Master Consistency
Mastering consistency, not intensity, is the last key to success. Making a bigger cut in your food intake will certainly make it harder for you in the long run. Being consistent, pacing yourself, keeping it simple, recognizing your shortcomings, and keeping it fun/fresh are crucial for long term success. Not only for your diet, but for your exercise program too. If you’re new to exercising, or getting back into shape, you will want to start slowly, learn correct techniques for every movement/stop an exercise when you can no longer control the movement, and cross train one or two days each week.
Keeping all of these things in mind can be tough. But when it comes down to it, your health and longevity is worth the price of the effort you put into it. Here is a great video to watch that summarizes the importance of consistency and safety in exercise, and how a little personal training can get you there. So when you hear “move more, eat less” just remember that this means to never be hungry, more IS less, and to master consistency.

Resolutionary Thoughts

No matter where you are in your fitness journey, I think you will get something out of this post.

With resolution season coming up, I wanted to give some tips on how to adjust your fitness goal, and stick to your resolution! For most people, the key this time of year is to either shake things up, or start a new, safe, and enjoyable exercise program. So, no matter where you are in your fitness journey, I think you will get something out of this post 🙂
Shake It Up
One of the best ways to shake things up is to reevaluate your goals. Often times when I get stuck in a training rut, it’s because I am aimlessly exercising. To break loose from the chains of exercises staler than flat beer, I make sure I have a purpose. Whether it’s to gain muscle mass, trim down, or prepare my body for the rigors of joining a team sport, I make sure to lift accordingly. In turn, I will know exactly how much time and effort I will need to put in to see my goals come to fruition. Here are seven things to think about, and take into account, when shaking your routine up:
 1. Your training age: Are you a beginner, intermediate or advanced trainee?
 2. Your goals: Are you training for better physique, bodybuilding (muscle size), powerlifting (strength), general health and fitness, conditioning, fat loss or a combination?
 3. Your recovery ability: How well can you handle a large volume of exercise?
 4. Your split routine: Are you training your entire body, half your body, or just a body part or two in a single workout?
 5. Your personal preferences: What style of training do you enjoy the most – short and intense or long and leisurely?
 6. Your results: Is what you’re doing now working well for you?
 7. Your schedule: How much time do have available and how much are you willing to spend working out?
A New Beginning
If you’re new to the gym, or starting back up into a regular routine, it’s important to progress through your weight training safely. So here are some thoughts on when, and by how much, you should increase the iron your lifting.
1. Start small. If you’re new to lifting, start with about half as much weight as you think you can lift. This simple step can not only save you from injury, but it will save you from embarrassing yourself the day after when you cant move your arms due to DOMS.
2. Know when it’s time to increase the weight. In general, it’s safe to start lifting a little bit heavier when you’re completing your last set of an exercise with ease, and barely feeling it the next day.
3. Figure out how much weight to add. Essentially, you should be adding a little bit more weight each week for any given exercise. Pushing yourself will drive results.
The Long Haul
Regardless of your fitness goal, the overarching theme should be that of life long health and fitness. Here are some tips on how to stick to your fitness plan past February.
 1. Announce it to the world. The more people who are aware of your intentions, the more support and accountability you will have.
 2. To go along with this, create accountability measures. Make use of a journal, friend, or accountibilibudy to regularly update your progress.
 3. Tackle the goals with other people. Whether it’s a group, a friend, or hiring a professional, creating a give-and-take system will thwart the feeling of not wanting to work out.
 4. Make very specific goals or resolutions. I went over a few general thoughts on goal making, but utilizing the SMART goal making system, will help ensure your success.
 5. Do something every day. Achieving your dream body/fitness goals doesn’t happen over night. So trying to make it happen all at once isn’t the best idea. Even if it is a really small step, do something that helps you get closer to your goal every day.
 6.Pick a goal that seems impossible. The key word here is seems. That’s because you will be amazed at your self-confidence as you start actually progressing toward that goal.

What Keeps Me Up At Night

To maximize my sleep, I need to stay motivated. So today I am sharing some thoughts on how to stay motivated, and keep things in perspective.

 There are two things that can keep me up at night. The first being my cats who fight and sprint around like crazy as I’m lying in bed. I call it the “furry fury” hour. The second being the thought that I am not doing everything I can to help  my clients and those I interact with on a day to day basis. To be the very best professional and person I can be, I do a lot of reading. This is because I not only want to know the science behind my profession, but I want to know how I can best communicate my knowledge to those who need it. To maximize my sleep, I need to stay motivated. So today I am sharing some thoughts on how to stay motivated, and keep things in perspective.
Balance
 For me, productivity is only obtainable when I have a (relatively) clear mind. This means I can’t be bogged down by trivial nonsense or things I can’t control. Incorporating strength training, yoga, Pilates, and meditation are great ways to reduce stress and keep me productive. Just as important to me, is the concept of work life balance. Loving what I do comes with the burden of an immense time commitment to my place of work. To avoid burn out, I make time to do thing I love during the week. Whether it’s blocking out time to get lunch with my wife, or simply playing a round of disc golf in the middle of the day, I commit myself to loving life. In turn this allows me the will power to redouble my efforts while at work. Because everything you do is either going to raise your average or lower it.
Be Happy
 When it comes to achieving goals, being happy with you efforts is essential. This is particularly true when it comes to health and fitness goals. Motivation needs to come from within, and being able to sleep at night will be much easier if you know you did the best you can in pursuit of your goal. Fortunately, science shows that exercising makes us happy! Unfortunately, most of us know that it’s getting the courage to go to the gym that’s the hard part. So here are 10 excuses to not exercised squashed.
1. “I don’t have time” – Schedule it and make it a priority.it only takes 10 minutes to make a difference.
2. Too expensive – There are so many outlets for no-equipment workouts. And there are free services to take advantage of at O2 and almost any other gym.
3. “I don’t know what I’m doing  – You get two free sessions from a trainer at O2 so take advantage of our knowledge. If you don’t want to do that, just ask someone who knows what they’re doing for help. People a generally nice, and you may even make a new friend.
4. “I’m too out of shape” – We all need to start somewhere. And unless you’re grunting, no one will really judge you for what you’re doing at the gym.
5. “I can’t commit” – Paying for a service is a great way to commit and follow through. Here are some more ideas that don’t require financial commitment.
6. “I don’t like exercising” – There are so many forms of exercise that, trust me on this, you just haven’t found the one you enjoy yet. Keep trying new things!
7. “I lack motivation”Plan ahead. Schedule yourself to run a 5k or make plans with friends to meet at the gym consistently.
8. “I’m too tired” – Guess what… exercise releases endorphins, increases energy, and elevates your overall mood. So stop being lazy and get it done!
9. “I look good enough” – Loving yourself the way you are is indeed important. But exercise is more than that. It reduces stress, improve your cardiovascular health, improve your mood, sleep better, and feel better.
10. “I’m too old” – NOPE! As we age weight-bearing exercises become super important to maintain bone mass, making modified strength training ideal. Using low impact activities such as water aerobics, yoga, walking, or Pilates are also great ways to stay active.
 Being healthy and motivated means different thing to everyone. So my final thought on the matter is to find yourself a roll model. I look up to people like James Fell, Alan Aragon, and Spencer Nadolsky. But the best roll model I have in my life is my wife. She is the hardest working person I have have ever met, and she is incredibly intelligent. So you may not have to look too far to find the inspiration you need to find success and sleep sound at night.
Bonus picture of the two responsible for keeping me up at night 🙂
 

Hungry For Success?

Food is so much more than a fuel for your body. It’s an experience, it’s joy, it’s a way we socialize.

I’ll start today’s post by asking you a few questions, and I want you to answer them as honestly as possible. What diet are you on right now? What diets have you tried in the past? How well did it (or has it) help you reach your goal? Finally, why did you stop your past diets? These questions are important to answer when searching for the true motivation behind an action such as dieting. But inevitably almost every diet fails due to the same reason. It robs you of something you enjoy! Food is so much more than a fuel for your body. It’s an experience, it’s joy, it’s a way we socialize. So today I am going to talk about why diets shouldn’t stop you from breaking bread (literally) with friends, family, or the weird neighbor you’re not too sure about.

Extremely UN-satisfying 

Most say “STOP” when it comes to eating a particular food. Fats, carbs, beans, meats, and gluten are just a few examples of things that are awesome, but get snatched away when we start a diet. In fact, many fad diets thrive on creating the fear of something (weight gain, disease, toxins, etc.). And when we buy into these notions, what we might fear is the pleasure of the foods, but then we want to rationalize it by saying that what we really fear is its effect on our health. Ultimately, this means that we walk around unnecessarily robbing ourselves of foods we enjoy.

 

Science Said So!!!

Many fad diets claim to be science based, but generally the science is garbage. In fact, it’s pretty darn difficult to study diets/nutrition in general. Just as importantly, science is filled with conditionals and fad diets are not. They don’t take into account individual needs or cultural norms/taboos. Ultimately what happens when we diet is we decrease our caloric intake, and often alter our vitamin and mineral consumption. There’s a plethora of weight loss hormones that get all jacked up when we alter our nutrition so severely. And guess what? Our natural response to such strict dieting is actually to over eat due to hormonal disregulation!

What To Do

Stay hungry. For long-term weight loss and happiness, avoid banning foods. This creates a cycle of cravings, inevitable indulgence, and guilt. Make all foods fit by eating smart 80% and food loses its power. In turn, you wont over indulge and/or give up and therefore you’ll a guilt free happy dieting experience.

Shift your pants. Not my best pun, but it has a point. When you shift your focus from dropping pant sizes to eating foods that are enjoyable and satisfying, you might actually consume fewer calories. Savoring your foods means you eat slower and feel satisfied with less.

Be realistic. Diets are not meant to be followed forever, so allowing yourself to eat all foods in moderation forms a realistic and sustainable approach. Long term success boils down to healthy lifestyle choices.

Balanced your diet. Proteins are for growth, maintenance and repair. Fats provide vitamin and mineral absorption, hormone regulation, and formation of cell structures. Carbohydrates are your body’s primary source of fuel. Don’t rob yourself of any of these functions by eating foods in moderation.

These last four tips are… well… the tip of the iceberg when it comes to nutrition. Make sure you go with your gut when looking at a new fad diet. And if you’re skeptical, use trusted websites to help in making an informed decision.

Better Than A 6 Pack

Because the cost of getting and maintaining 6 pack abs can be daunting for, well, everyone, I thought it would be a good idea to broaden the scope a bit. So lets take a look at what great things exercise can do for all of us.

As some of you may know, I like to drink and brew my own beer. But before you get your hopes up, today’s post has nothing to do with that! Instead, I wanted to talk about what benefits exercise can bring you besides looking good naked. Because the cost of getting and maintaining 6 pack abs can be daunting for, well, everyone, I thought it would be a good idea to broaden the scope a bit. Many people get fixated on the minutia of exercise and fitness training. I often hear things like “I want Michelle Obama arms” or “Carrie Underwood legs” or my favorite “I just want to look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club.” To achieve these looks, one would have to pick their parents wisely. You can’t change your genes people! So lets take a look at what great things exercise can do for all of us.
Nearly half of the U.S. population is taking at least 1 prescribed drug each year. And unless they’re looking to kick that nasty breathing habit, most people should keep taking them. But wouldn’t it be nice to not be dependent on a pharmaceutical agent to stay healthy/alive? Well the good news is that the 3 most common medications are Analgesics (pain management), Antihyperlipidemic agents (cholesterol management), and Antidepressants. And guess what exercise is great at doing?
Pain In The…
Millions of people deal with chronic pain. From the ever common low back pain, to osteoarthritis (OA), to more severe symptoms of fibromyalgia. For most people, the only option given is to take a drug of some sort. However, research shows that people who exercise and stay flexible manage their pain much better than those who don’t. This is because it takes less pain to make you feel more uncomfortable for those who suffer from chronic pain. Luckily, exercise for cardiovascular endurance, strengthening, and flexibility, can help improve this pain threshold. So check out these links if you or a loved one suffers from lower back pain (yogayogadesk jobtipsexercises), OA (tipstips,exercises),  or fibromyalgia for helpful exercises and tips. 
LDL On The Down Low
 
Without getting too technical, exercise is excellent for raising the cardio-protective HDL’s in your blood. This “good” cholesterol is what you get from exercising at least 5 hours per week. Click here and here for more information. 
 
Exercising makes us Happy! So to smile more you should exercise more. Here’s a glimpse at how it works. Exercise = the brain recognizes this as stress. This causes the brain to think you are either fighting the enemy or fleeing from it (the good old fight of flight mechanism). As a result, our brain releases protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) and endorphins which together minimize the discomfort of exercise, block the feeling of pain, and create a feeling of euphoria.
Zombies Love A Fit Brain & More!
 
The brain not only reacts to exercise, but benefits from it too! So here is a list of other great benefits to the body and brain that are derived from exercise.
 – A decrease in Oxidative Stress which may damage DNA and essential lipids within the brain that triggers neuronal death if not controlled.
 – Decrease Inflammatory Agents accumulate in the brain which can destroy neurons and inhibit neurogenesis (the growth of new neurons) if left unchecked.
 – Balance Hormones like estrogen, testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) that collectively help preserve cognitive ability but decrease with aging.
 – Reduce the risk of Hypertension (chronically-elevated blood pressure).
 – Control or even reverse Diabetes and Insulin-Resistance which is an inability to utilize glucose that linked to lower levels of neuronal growth factors, decreased brain volume, and higher incidence of dementia.
 – Reduce Stress and Cortisol levels which can help with sleep and overall happiness.
 – Makes us more productive at work!
 – Improve Bone Density
Bottom Line
 
Just start exercising and you will feel great. Whether your a beginner in the gym, need to get your fitness in at work, or an experienced lifter, there’s always a way to make it work for you. And no matter what the level, your body and brain will be better for it 🙂