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PostHeaderIcon Voodoo, Beliefs, Health and Society

One of my favorite English teacher’s in high school once shared that her grandmother was a voodoo witch doctor who apprenticed her in the art but she walked away from it. When we asked her why, my teacher said she couldn’t stand to watch people get sick and die because of a voodoo curse. “Do voodoo curses really work?” we asked and she said that they did through the power of suggestion.

There are many documented cases of people dying of curses from all over the world and a few more studies to back them, which I will site below. These studies have been used to explain the nacebo effect which happens when people are told about the harmful effects of a drug or disease, and this causes them to experience those effects. We know that if we believe that something will make us better, even if it is only water or a sugar pill, there is a much greater chance that it will. This is known as the placebo effect. The nacebo effect is the belief that something that is harmless will harm you and that placebo effect is the belief that something that has no healing properties will help you. Nacebo creates negative consequences and placebo positive ones. Basically, our beliefs are a huge indicator of how well we heal or how ill we become.

Another example of the nacebo effect was an incident at a ball game where someone got horribly ill and everyone believed it was the food. The whole audience started feeling nausea and even vomited, believing that the food had poisoned them. When the news spread that the cause of illness was not the food, everyone felt better.

Clifton Meador, a doctor at Vanerbilt School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee, documented many cases of the nacebo effect including the one of Sam Shoeman who was diagnosed with end stage liver cancer in the 1970s and was given only months to live. When he died exactly at his allotted time, an autopsy showed that the tumor never spread. “He didn’t die from cancer, but from believing he was dying of cancer,” Meador stated. “If everyone treats you as if you are dying, you buy into it. Everything in your whole being becomes about dying.”

There was a study published in 2007 in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine by Irving Kirsch and Giuliana Mazzoni of the University of Hull in the UK. They asked a group of students to inhale some air that they were told contained a “suspected environmental toxin,” linked to headache, nausea, itchy skin and drowsiness. Half the students watched a woman inhale the air and supposedly develop the symptoms. The results showed that the students who inhaled the normal air and were told that it was a toxin were more likely to get symptoms. The ones who watched the woman get symptoms were even more likely to get symptoms themselves. This result has been compared to many mass psychogenic illnesses in which word of a virus gets out and people get sick without being exposed to it.

Many studies involving control groups where people are told about the side effects of a particular drug resulted in them getting side effects whether they took the drug or a control.

These studies and many more posed some ethical questions in the medical community. “On the one hand people have the right to be informed about what to expect, but this makes it more likely they will experience side effects,” stated Mazzoni.

Reading about the nacebo effect resonates with me because I see it often in my profession. After personal training and teaching fitness/yoga for over a decade, I’ve observed many patterns of belief.  Some people have the strong and unwavering belief that the body is adaptable and that it can heal and get stronger. Others let the fear of exercise lead them to believe that it will hurt them which keeps them from sticking to an effective regimen. Fear of illness or injury can be a self fulfilling prophecy. I’ve also seen people overcome great obstacles and perform skills that were once deemed impossible due to their belief in themselves.

To read my article on beliefs and learn examples on how empowering beliefs can help us accomplish what others deem impossible, you can click here:

http://heroestraining.com/?p=57

I’m tackling this issue again because, at this point in my career, I have been using what I have learned about programming and changing people’s habits to help me change my own beliefs and habits.  I’m realizing, it is my job to prop up the people who don’t believe in themselves and so their new belief in success will lead to just that.

Often, people have thanked me for being the only one who believed that they can change. It helps me to look back at my own life and remember the teachers, friends and family members who put me down or destroyed my drive by telling me that what I wanted to accomplish was impossible. Then I think of all the people who believed in me and how they changed my life.

I asked myself, who do I want to be? Do I want to be the teacher who once told one of my students that her belly fat was a part of age and that she couldn’t get rid of it? Yet, after taking my class for a month, the belly fat came right off. Do I want to be like the trainer who told me that a woman can’t do pull ups especially one who only has two fingers? Yet, I just did 30 pull ups unassisted the other day. Do I want to be like the physical therapist who told a few of my clients that it would take them months and months to heal? Yet, after a few weeks of training with me, they regained their range of motion in a much shorter amount of time.

The truth is there are doctors who won’t perform surgery on people because they can sense that the person’s belief in death will make him less likely to survive. There are teachers who have given up on trying because they think that the children just don’t care. There are trainers who turn down clients just because they feel they don’t have the right mind set. Many of us are taught to do this. But one day, I asked myself, “If I only train people who already have the mindset for it, what good am I? What about the people who really need it?”

There have been times when I have had to be honest with someone and tell them that they can change even if they didn’t believe it. I could tell that what I said hurt them greatly. Then, weeks or months later, they came to me and thanked me for changing their mindset and being the catalyst for them to find the path to health.

What touches me most is seeing new comers come to my class, struggling with the learning curve that often comes with starting up a new fitness regimen. Instead of complaining that they are taking up more space in the class or assuming that they are part of the wave of people who only come for the new year and leave after a month, I have seen my students tell them that they have gone through the same learning curves. I’ve seen my students offer support and encouragement to newcomers overcome with fear and apprehension.

This gives me hope that no one is hopeless. A society’s culture is simply a shared system of beliefs. We are fighting a war against obesity and chronic diseases, fueled by a fast food, inactive and stressful culture. Many of us have won the battle and have created new habits of health and well being. It is up to us to create a new culture, one that embraces positive change, healing and support.

So I ask you, do you want to be a voodoo witch doctor and curse people with your doubt? Or do you want to be the healer that motivates them with hope? What can we do to help change the beliefs of a generation?

For a more studies on how our subconscious fuels our beliefs and habits and how we can change that with awareness, click here:

http://heroestraining.com/?p=700

For a list of my blogs in the category of motivation, click here:

http://heroestraining.com/?cat=5

 

 

PostHeaderIcon Much a do About the Hips

The Kinetic chain

The human body and mind is an amazing machine that can move in many directions and achieve amazing tasks. It can climb, run, walk, crawl, swing bats, perform complex martial arts and dance moves, lift heavy loads and perform acrobatic feats. In order to move in this way, our body is like a machine, linked with complex joints, cartilage, tendons, ligaments and fascia. It is moved by bones and muscles and a complex network of nerves. The many tissues have to support, counter, contract and extend in order to perform these tasks successfully and without injury or strain. We call this beautiful harmony of movement that includes all the tissues responsible for it, the kinetic chain. Like a chain in a machine that requires spokes, wheels, breaks, pulleys, belts, wires and energy; our body requires a cooperative link of many types of fibers.

hip-anatomy-200-300
Most people hold their pain and tension either in their shoulders or hips. I addressed the shoulders in my neck and shoulder release blog which you can click here:

RELEASE NECK AND SHOULDER TENSION
Today, I would like to address the hips because dysfunction in this area can create pain and tension in the lower back and knees. The many muscles, ligaments, tendons, fascia and joint tissues in the hips also connect to bones in the spine and legs. When these muscles are out of balance, they can create tension in the knees, back and even the shoulders, neck and feet. Not to mention hip pain. In this blog, I will address some of the more common hip dysfunctions. Many people suffer from these issues without even knowing it.

 

Hip Flexors

4239R-8517At some point in history, someone invented the chair and this has been the cause of many muscle imbalances. It stopped people from squatting and using the floor. Our sedentary lifestyle based on mostly chair sitting has put us in a posture that compresses our spine and keeps our hip flexors in a constantly flexed position. Because the hip flexors attach the lower back to the upper thigh bone, a tight network of hip flexors (the illiopsoas group) can compress the lower back and limit movement responsible for walking properly. If it hurts to lie on your back with your legs straight, you mostly likely have tight hip flexors. Stretches where you have one foot behind you such as lunging or warrior I can help lengthen tight hip flexors.

Sciatica

The sciatica nerve is the HUGEST nerve in the body. It travels from the spine and through the back of the leg. When the deep muscles in the hips, particularly the piriformis muscle (a deep muscle under the gluteus group) is tight, this nerve can become compressed. The pain can run through the lower back and down the back of the leg. Massage or myofascial release with a massage ball or roller can plus, outer hip stretches such as pigeon pose or any variation of lotus can help release sciatica pain that stems from tight hips.

 

IT band

The StabilizerMuscles3Illiotibial tract or “IT band” is attached to a muscle that sounds like a favorite barista’s drink, Tensor Fasciae Latae and to the Gluteus Maximus. This attaches to tendon and fascae that runs down the side of the leg, from the hip to the knee which is responsible for stabilizing the hip. It gets tight from overuse and causes a pulling in the knee. This pulling can cause the knee to track incorrectly which can wear the cartilage in the knee the wrong way, causing arthritis. Relieving, massaging, resting and releasing the IT band helps release knee pain and imbalances. This imbalance is common in athletes who over exert themselves.

 

Adductors

This muscle group runs from the hip to the knee on the inner side, stabilizing the knee. If weak, it can cause the knees to track incorrectly creating degeneration and arthritis. Lack of strength in this area also stems from our sedentary lifestyle and too much chair sitting. It can be strengthened by performing deep squats, squeezing a ball or block between the thighs or adducting the leg.

The mind body connection

Adept yoga practitioners would say that our problems are not physical but spiritual and mental. The energy and impulses that run through our body can be blocked by karma. A real world example of this is to look at what happens when a dog is afraid. It tucks its tail between its legs. We do the same thing. When we sense fear or stress, we tense our hips.

Sigmund Freud coined the term “anal retention” when he described people who’s parent’s were too controlling. My yoga teacher has told me that the tighter a person’s butt, the more they try to control their life.

The hip area represents the first and second chakras. The first chakra represents where we hold our fear, stress and issues regarding survival. The second chakra deals with creativity, sex, shame and guilt. These are the darker areas of our life, the parts of us we hide away. When we finally release blockages in our hips, we are sometimes filled with great emotional waves. As I went deeper into my yoga practice, I started to experience this but it took me a while to finally let go of what I was holding in my hips. Often, we hold our own mental stress in our body and learning to relax the mind can also alleviate and heal pain in the body. This is why yoga and meditation has become so popular.

For more information about the chakras, click this link:

DEMYSTIFYING THE CHAKRAS

Hip Balancing Workshop

I will be holding a hip balancing workshop in Chatsworth CA, if you are interested, click here:

SPECIAL EVENTS

PostHeaderIcon Dieting Too Much? You Could Be Hurting More Than Your Metabolism

If you’ve ever dieted properly through the education of a dietitian, a support group such as weight watchers or through an online app that calculates your calories for you such as myfitnesspal.com, you may already understand that there is a certain amount of calories you need to eat everyday in order to maintain your weight. There is also a certain amount of calories you need in order to fuel basic functions other than exercising such as digestion, hormonal activities, brain and neurological activity, blood circulation etc. For the average person, about 70% of the calories we burn goes to just keeping us alive and healthy. The rest we burn by doing everyday activities or exercise. We refer to this base caloric number as the resting metabolic rate (RMR)

You can calculate your RMR by going to this link below and entering your height and weight:

http://walking.about.com/cs/calories/l/blcalcalc.htm

This calculates the amount of calories you need in order to maintain weight. If you cut out 300 to 500 of these calories per day or burn this amount through exercise, you can burn one to two lbs. a week. However, if you eat less than about 1200 calories a day for the average person, you may be taking away calories needed to keep you healthy. Of course, everyone is different and your doctor or dietitian should be able to determine what is best for you.

It’s important to note that the math used to calculate the average RMR for your height and weight is for most healthy people. It is not all together accurate. There are many people who’s RMRs are lower than this which means they have to eat even less and burn more calories in order to lose and maintain weight. These people will say they have “low metabolisms” and will say things like, “why is it some people can eat a sandwich and stay slim but if I so much as eat a slice of bread, I will gain weight?” This phenomenon usually happens to people who have dieted too often or incorrectly. They have restricted their caloric intake so much that their body slows down its use of energy. In order for them to maintain body weight, they have to eat even less than the average person.

A famous study done in 1994 by Donelly and colleagues illustrates this. Sedentary women were given only 520 kcal/day for a 12 week period. They were divided into a control group and different exercise groups. While they all lost weight, all of their RMR went down. The ones who exercised the most had the greatest decrease of RMR (down to 240 kcal/day, which represented a 13.5% decrease) This means that this group of women will now have to eat 240 less calories a day or burn 240 calories more with exercise just to maintain their weight than they did before this extreme diet.

This is the yo-yo dieter’s problem and why some people lose a lot of weight only to gain back more in the long run. This is also why most educated professionals will recommend reducing only 300-500 calories a day and no more than that. This is why we say that one to two pounds a week of weight loss is reasonable and why ethically minded professionals will not ask you to lose more weight or reduce more calories than this. But there is more.

After being starved for so long, the body will hold on to fat as a means of storage so when the starved subject does lose weight, much of it will be in the form of bone and muscle. This can lead to osteoporosis which is common in anorexic women. This also leads to more sports injuries and poor sports and exercise performance. So even though a person might lift weights, lack of enough protein and other nutrients fails to build the kind of muscle that raises our metabolism.

Furthermore, stress caused by over exercise and starvation can lead to amenorrhea or menstrual disorders which is a big problem in teenage athletic females. Without the proper hormonal balance needed from getting adequate nutritional intake, muscle and bone health weakens even more because the hormones are very important in regulating the functions that keep our bones and muscles strong.

Again, there are exceptions. If a person is severely obese, they may be able to lose more weight faster. But there comes a time when a person may keep losing fat, long after they have reached the state of having a healthy BMI. I have been in this situation. When I lost weight as a teen, I continued to do so and suffered from lowered metabolism and amenorrhea. This was partly due to incorrect education and body image. I made up for this later on in life, by getting educated and raising my metabolism by eating more healthy foods at the right times.

You can read more about my personal experiences with this in my blog:

How to Raise Your Metabolism (and keep the weight off for life)

As I study for my sports nutrition certification, I’m a saddened by the statistics of young female athletes who sabotage themselves with self starvation and it makes me wonder what we value as a society when our youth values deprivation over health. Realizing that I was once one of those unreported, malnourished kids makes me realize that these statistics are under reported and that there are more self starved people than that. I just want to say that if you are not menstruating properly, if you are not eating enough and wondering why you aren’t losing weight, if you are getting dizzy and nauseous during your workouts due to lack of nutrition, please get professional help. Beauty is more than just being skinny. Beauty comes from confidence, health and values that go beyond what we think we should look like. For this upcoming New Year, my wish is for people to aim for being stronger, more capable individuals who aren’t malnourished due to lack of education and poor body image.

PostHeaderIcon Enhance Your Cardio. (It’s not just aerobics anymore)

Sports science has taught us that we become faster, stronger, lose weight and basically get more results when we mix up our workouts. Unfortunately, we are creatures of habit and unless someone steps in to stir things up, we tend to fall into our regular routines.

Today, I want to give you tips on how to add spice to your cardio workout. Also, these tips will help you get faster, increase your endurance, lose weight quicker, increase your metabolism, and help you improve your race times if you like to compete in 5ks, marathons, triathlons, mud runs or other similar events.

I will describe five cardio workouts. Then I will explain a typical week of training so you understand how to mix up your cardio routine to facilitate results and prevent injuries.

Aerobic or endurance workout: This workout strengthens the heart, creates stamina, and burns fat. It consists of moving at a steady pace that is intense enough to increase heart rate, but not so intense that you are breathing hard through the mouth or have to stop. This workout can continue for a long period of time. It’s great for conditioning, increasing stamina and endurance, pacing, tempo and controlling your breath.

Examples of an endurance workout include a nonstop aerobics class, a long, nonstop bike ride, long distance walk, run, swim, or session on any cardio machine. While this workout is great for the reasons mentioned above, it is not as successful in building speed or power.

If you are a beginner at this type of workout, I suggest you start learning how to pace yourself. See if you can go for fifteen minutes without stopping. Then try going for twenty minutes. Build up your endurance until you can go for a half hour or more. The key is not to push too hard that you burn out after a few seconds or minutes. Learn to slow down so you will last the full workout. You’re body will start creating more blood vessels in your body and mitochondria  in the cells so, over time, you will be able to do more without running out of gas.

Fartleg: This workout also builds endurance but it helps you add some speed and it challenges your heart a bit more. It’s great if you are trying to increase your marathon or 5K time or if you just want to train your body to go harder for a long distance. In this workout, you will go at an aerobic pace (a pace you can keep for a long distance at a tempo that is challenging but doesn’t wear you out) for a timed interval, ie. 1 to 5 minutes. Then, pick up your pace and bring your heart rate up for another timed interval ie., 1 to 2 minutes. Then go back to the endurance pace.

This workout is great for increasing your pace. It is NOT the same as anaerobic or interval training because you DO NOT STOP. You simply change the rhythm and pacing of your workout. It still works your stamina.

Examples of a fartleg might be that you go on an elliptical machine for 5 minutes at a pace you are comfortable in. Then you pick up your RPMs and go faster for 1 minute. Then you go back to the original pace for 5 minutes. This can be done while running, walking, dancing, cycling, swimming or any other cardio workout. You can mix up the times. For example, on another day, you can go at the slower rhythm for only 3 minutes and do the faster rhythm for 2 minutes. You can do the slower rhythm for 1 minute and the faster rhythm for 30 seconds. Once you get used to one way of timing it, mix it up.

Beginners will find that the hardest part of this workout is to keep the timing. After a surge of harder work, you will want to stop. Learning to slow down without stopping is part of increasing endurance and teaching the body to be more efficient so you can go harder for longer periods of time and even improve your long distance race times.

VO2 max: This workout consists of going as hard as you can for a long period of time. You still have to pace yourself, but you are breathing hard and at some point, you will burn out. Think of this workout as going at a competitive race speed. It burns a ton of calories but you don’t want to do this every day because you want to avoid burn out or overuse injuries.

At first, you may only be able to do a couple of minutes at this maximum pace but as your body adapts, you can add more and more time. A champion marathon runner is going at his or her VO2 max when they are racing. At the end of the race, they are done for. Some collapse to the ground. It is very intense.

Examples of a VO2 max workout would be running a race, swimming a race or just going your all for a certain amount of time, non-stop.

Some beginners will have a hard time finding a pace that they can keep that is challenging but that will not make them burn out after a few seconds. Others may just have a hard time getting their heart rates up to a max capacity. I do not recommend this workout for beginners. I recommend they spend the first few weeks starting a cardiovascular program with just endurance and fartlegs before they attempt this. I do not recommend this to people who have heart problems. But if you have been doing the same aerobic workout for a while and you are ready to go to the next level, try this as a test, to see where you are or as an intense workout once or twice a week. I do not recommend you do it every day. Think of this workout as a test run to see how much you have improved.

Intervals: Interval training has become very popular lately because of its proof of effectiveness due to many studies purporting that only a few minutes of interval training a week leads to massive results in all realms of fitness. This workout consists of short bursts of highly intense intervals, followed by a timed rest period.  This workout burns the most calories so it doesn’t have to be done for a long period of time. A ten to twenty minute interval workout burns as much or more than an endurance workout that is an hour long.

Examples of an interval workout would be doing a 100 yard sprint at max capacity, then taking a thirty second break and repeating that eight times. Another example would be to do burpees for thirty seconds and take a twenty second break. Another example would be to run 200 or 400 or 800 meters at max capacity and take a two minute break and repeat that six times. Another example would be to go at a faster or harder level on your cardio machine for one minute, then rest for thirty seconds and repeat. You can mix up the intervals and rest periods as your body adapts to this method.

The biggest challenge for beginners will be repeating the intervals. You might find that after going all out for the first or second interval, you’ll have nothing left for the third or fourth. I suggest you start with only a few intervals or make the rest periods longer. Then add more intervals and shorten the rest periods as you get better.  If you eat and recover properly, your body will adapt by building more muscle and power. Over time, you will be able to recover from the initial bursts quicker.

Hills: Hills add resistance to a cardiovascular workout. It is harder to go up a hill due to gravity pushing on our body. This workout challenges our heart and makes our workout more intense. You can run a course on hills non-stop or you can do intervals up a hill. You can simulate hills on a treadmill, bike, elliptical and other cardio machine. You can simulate hills in a studio class by using steps or inclines. Going up a hill can burn a lot more calories and work your heart and muscles harder without you having to increase speed.

The greatest challenge to doing hills is the fact that it engages more muscles and requires more strength. Do not do hills several days in a row. You want to let your muscles recover between days of hills. There is also a greater risk of knee pain. Listen to your body. If your joints are not sore, you are probably fine but if your knees, hips or ankles start to warn you by sending you pain signals, ease off on your training. Hills are comparable to weight training. Do not do a steep hill if you can barely run a flat. Simulate hills slowly, adding a greater incline after you get used to the level below that.

A simulated workout: If you plan to run four days a week, your workouts might look like this:

Monday: endurance workout, 4 miles at aerobic pace

Tuesday: Intervals, three 400 yard runs with 1 minute rest between each interval followed by five 100 meter sprints with 30 second rest between each of them

Wednesday: rest day

Thursday: fartleg, jog at aerobic pace for 5 minutes. Pick up tempo for 1 minute. Keep doing that for 30 minutes

Friday: VO2Max, time trial. Run a 5k course as fast as you can.

You might want to mix up two different types of workouts in one day. Here’s an example of a program where you do cardio three times a week:

Monday: 20 minute endurance workout, non-stop. Followed by eight 100 meter sprints with 20 second rest between them (a mix of intervals and endurance)

Wednesday: fartleg, jog at aerobic pace for 3 minutes. Pick up tempo for 2 minutes. Keep doing that for 30 minutes

Friday: VO2Max, time trial. Run a 5k course as fast as you can. Then run at endurance pace for 10 minutes

You can mix up all four workouts in one workout. I often do this when I teach cycle. Here’s an example of this on a treadmill:

15 minutes at an aerobic tempo, followed by a five minute hill hard as you can (VO2Max) followed by high intensity intervals of adding speed and hills for 30 seconds, then rest for 20 seconds. Repeat intervals five times. End with 10 minutes at aerobic tempo.

All of these workouts will help you break your plateaus, create more speed, power, stamina, and will burn more calories. It will also break you out of your rut and make endurance less boring. All of these workouts can be simulated on a cardio machine or in an aerobics class, can be done running or walking and can be done swimming (with the exception of hills.)

If you would like to know how many calories these workouts burn, check out this post:

HOW MANY CALORIES DID I JUST BURN

 

PostHeaderIcon JOSEPH PILATES, a Hardcore Man with a Hard Core

What is pilates? Pilates is modern form of exercise that has been used by athletes, dancers and every day people in order to maintain strength and flexibility. It has also been used as physical rehabilitation for numerous injuries.

Pilates is named after its founder, Joseph Pilates who was born in Germany and lived from December 9, 1883 to October 9, 1967

It is said that Pilates was a sickly child who suffered from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. He devoted his life to physical fitness and grew up to be a champion gymnast and martial artist. He also studied yoga and many other modalities of fitness. He was a professional boxer who taught self defense and wrestling to law enforcement. He called his system of fitness “contrology” and published a book called “Return to Life Through Contrology” in 1945. This book showcased simple exercises to develop core strength and posture so the mainstream population could fight the debilitating effects of modern sedentary living. I teach many of these exercises in my mat pilates class.

During WWI, Pilates was interned by the British where he continued training his fellow soldiers. Rumor has it that he even made the soldiers work out when they were injured and couldn’t walk by turning their beds into exercise machines by using the coils of the beds for resistance, inventing a modern pilates reformer. Some people say that Pilates would not allow anyone to skimp out on exercising. Others say that Pilates was rehabilitating the soldiers on these beds and that he successfully healed many soldiers this way. It is said that his inmates survived the 1918 flu pandemic due to their great shape and he boasted that they would be stronger than they were before internment.

After the war, Pilates returned to Germany and collaborated with many other fitness and dance experts. He also trained law enforcement but was ordered by the government to train the German army. Disappointed by the political and social conditions, he immigrated to the United States where he met his wife, Clara.

He opened his studio in New York which gained quick attention from the performing arts community. His studio attracted many dancers who suffered from aches and pains and provided a foundation of spinal strengthening, mobility and stamina. Performers were often sent to his studio to rehabilitate their injuries and soon, contrology was part of a regular dance regimen that helped prevent injuries.

Today, Pilates’s students have branched out to teach his method all over the world. It has been adopted by athletic trainers and occupational physical therapists. His method is taught in studios and gyms all over the world and has helped people from all walks of life overcome the aches and pains of athletics, performing arts and sedentary modern living.

“Contrology develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind, and elevates the spirit. In childhood, with rare exceptions, we all enjoy the benefits of natural and normal physical development. However, as we mature, we find ourselves living in bodies not always complimentary to our ego. Our bodies are slumped, our shoulders are stooped, our eyes are hollow, our muscles are flabby and our vitality extremely lowered, if not vanished. This is but the natural result of not having uniformly developed all the muscles of our spine, trunk, arms, and legs in the course of pursuing our daily labors and office activities.”  –Joseph Pilates

PostHeaderIcon Should I Sacrifice Sleep for Training?

Over the years of being a trainer, I have noticed a marked difference between people who achieve the results they want and the ones who have a much harder time. Much of it has to do with how people eat and sleep on top of how they train.

Today I am bringing up the subject of sleep because I heard a motivational speaker say that you should sacrifice sleep in order to get the things you want. As a health professional, I do not agree with this statement due to the evidence I have collected over the years. You can sacrifice mindless television watching, video games, negative thinking and junk food, but one thing you should not sacrifice is sleep. A large number of studies have linked lack of sleep with obesity.

Proof of How Lack of Sleep Can Make you Fat

According to a study from the University of Chicago, people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to indulge in candy, cake and other sweets than they are in eating fruits and whole grains. Another study that appeared in “The Annals of internal Medicine” measured hormonal levels in people who do not get enough sleep with those who do. They found that sleep deprivation decreases levels of leptin, a hormone that tells you that you are full. It increases levels of ghrelin, a hormone that makes you feel hungry and makes you crave sweets. Additional studies followed how many snacks people who aren’t getting enough sleep eat. The conclusion was that people who are sleep deprived are twice as likely to eat unhealthy snacks.

Lack of sleep also causes stress, releasing the hormone cortisol which also causes us to crave high-fat foods. Cortisol also triggers survival mechanisms in the body that causes us to store fat in our abdominal area.

For more information on how stress leads to belly fat, check out this post:   http://heroestraining.com/?p=417

A study from Case Western University tracked the weight fluctuations and sleep habits of 680,138 women for sixteen years. They found that the women who slept five hours or less per night were more likely to become obese and the women who only got six hours of sleep a night were more likely to be overweight than women who got seven hours of sleep.

Researchers from the University of Warrick, England followed thousands of children and adults and found that sleep deprivation almost doubles the risk of obesity for adults and children. Another study from Stanford University found that people who sleep less have higher BMI (Body Mass Index) levels. In conclusion, there are a huge number of studies that show that lack of sleep can make you fat.

What is just as remarkable is a study conducted by Glamour Magazine to see if sleeping more will help you lose weight.  They enlisted seven female readers and asked them to sleep at least seven and a half hours each night for ten weeks. They were not allowed to change their dietary habits for those ten weeks. All of these women lost weight.

It is very difficult to train clients who are sleep deprived. They have absolutely no energy. I usually train them as a lesson and tell them that they need to get more sleep if they want to get results. When they experience how poorly they perform and how much they struggle, they realize how important sleep really is.

Sleep is Nature’s Steroid

Some recent studies are being done on HGH (human growth hormone) and how this helps people recover, stay young and gain muscle. When we sleep, human growth hormone is released. This is when injuries are healed, when children grow, when cells in the body are restored and when muscles are repaired to gain strength. If athletic performance or strength gains are your goal, then sleep should be on the top of your priority list. Sleep has also been called “nature’s steroid” by many health professionals for this reason. Before you start your intake of experimental HGH, see if you’re getting enough sleep first.

Sleep Increases Athletic Performance

Mah, Mah and Dement studied college swimmers. They tested their athletic performance for two weeks during their usual sleep-wake cycles. Then they tested them after they extended their sleep to 10 hours a day for 6-7 weeks. The results showed that the swimmers swam the 15-meter sprint 0.51 seconds faster, reacted 0.15 seconds sooner off the start blocks, improved turn time by 0.10 seconds and increased kick strokes by 5 kicks.

They also did a study on 11 male college basketball players. After extending their sleep for as much per night as they could, their timed agility sprint improved by 0.07 seconds; their free-throw percentage increased by 9%; and their 3-point field goal percentage improved by 9.2%.

They also studied seven Stanford University football players. They were tested before and after the sleep extension and their 20-yard shuttle run times decreased by 0.10 seconds. Forty-yard dash times also decreased by 0.10 seconds and daytime sleepiness and fatigue scores fell significantly.

Sleep also helps with memory, strengthening the immune system and alertness. This increases athletic performance, work performance, school performance, and wellness. It also makes you less cranky which should help with your relationships.

How Can I Get More Sleep?

–One of my favorite cures for insomnia is exercise or yoga. This helps release stress and burns energy that can lead to a better night’s sleep. Excess exercise can lead to burn out and insomnia so make sure you are getting just the right amount

–Get your life organized. Set aside time for checking emails, spending time with the family, eating dinner etc. so that everyone can get to bed on time.

–Take a warm bath or shower

–Try chamomile tea, which is known for its ability to calm the body, before going to bed

–The smell of lavender is known to calm the senses and release stress, making it easier to go to sleep.

–Instead of sacrificing things that are good for you, such as sleep, how about cutting out things that are bad for you such as excessive alcohol. Though it can make you feel tired, too much alcohol can mess with your sleep cycles.

–Tobacco is a stimulant that can make it hard to sleep

–Too much caffeine is a stimulant that messes with your sleep-wake cycles.

–Overeating can make it hard to sleep so give your digestive system a break. Also, don’t eat too much processed carbs or sugar right before bed

–Sometimes it is hard to sleep while hungry so a healthy snack like a fruit might help. Just don’t overeat.

–Too much television or video games can also lead to inability to sleep. Try reading a book before going to bed, meditating or listening to soft music. Even cuddle with a loved one.

–Take power naps if sleeping at night is not possible. If you have a hard time sleeping at night, limit nap times.

–Make sure your bed and pillows are comfortable

–Turn out the lights. Bright lights can fool the hormonal system into thinking it is still day time so avoid the television and other lit screens. Let your body know that it is time for bed.

–If you feel your inability to sleep might be a medical issue, check out AASM (the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.) Here is their website:

http://www.aasmnet.org/

How Much Sleep Should I Get?

These are the sleep guidelines according to the National Sleep Foundation:

AGE DAILY SLEEP NEEDS
NEW BORNS (0-2 months) 12-18 HOURS
INFANTS (3 to 11 months) 14-15 HOURS
TODDLERS (1-3 years) 12-14 HOURS
PRESCHOOLERS (3-5 years) 11-13 HOURS
SCHOOL –AGE CHILDREN (5-10 years) 10-11 HOURS
TEENS (10-17 years) 8.5-9.25 HOURS
ADULTS 7-9 HOURS

PostHeaderIcon How do I Get Smaller or Bigger?

Imagine a big pile of dirt. You take some dirt off and the pile becomes smaller, then you put more dirt on and it becomes bigger. This dirt is your caloric intake and your body mass. When you exercise, you are burning calories and body mass. You are taking dirt off the pile and the pile gets smaller. When you eat, you are putting calories and body mass back on the dirt.

You are this pile of dirt. If you want to make yourself stay the same size, you will take off as much dirt as you put on. If you want to get  bigger, you will pile on more dirt than you take off. This sounds like an easy concept to understand but I get a lot of questions about this, so I want to clear up a few things.

Many people mindlessly pile on more dirt than they take off. In fact, a recent study has shown that the average person eats about fifty to a hundred more calories than they should per day and we wonder why we gradually gain weight as we get older. If we exercise moderately, most of those calories will get burned and we will maintain our size. If we exercise more or eat less, we will get smaller, much like that pile of dirt. What a lot of people don’t realize is that a small piece of cheese has more calories in it than it seems and they might be packing more dirt on that pile than they think. A salad that contains bacon, avocado and caramelized walnuts may have a lot more fat and calories (dirt) than what they anticipated. In order to know if you are really doing what it takes to make yourself smaller, you have to educate yourself on the calorie content of foods you eat. According to studies, most people don’t even know what broccoli looks like, thus the obesity epidemic.

Similarly, I sometimes get clients who want to gain muscle. When they tell me that they aren’t getting results, I make them write down what they are eating and it becomes apparent that they aren’t eating enough. The truth is we often don’t plan what we eat. Most people eat what is available to them at the time which makes it very hard to proactively control our body size. I can’t emphasize enough how important awareness and planning is if you want to change your size.

Clients who want to get bigger often ask, “How can I make sure that the food I am eating is going to building muscle and not gaining fat?”

This all has to do with what you eat, when you eat and how you exercise. To get bigger muscles, you must break them down. You must lift weights until your muscles are sore and a bit torn up (not pulled or injured.) When the muscles heal, they heal a little bigger and stronger. You must give your muscles recovery time. You must eat the right portions of protein, carbs and nutrients and you should do it immediately after you exercise so those calories contribute to repairing muscle and not to storing fat. Body builders plan their workouts, what they eat and when they eat very precisely. The average professional body builder spends 40,000 dollars on food a year.

One misunderstanding clients who want to get bigger have is that only lifting weights will make their muscles bigger. You have to eat more too. Remember that exercise alone will make your pile of dirt smaller. If you don’t have energy to fuel those muscles, they won’t get bigger. If you want bulk you HAVE to eat more too.

One question I get a lot from clients who want to get smaller is, “will lifting heavy weights make me get bigger or bulkier?” Again, you won’t get bigger unless you eat more than what you normally do. Lifting heavy weights takes more energy and burns more calories than lifting light weights. Therefore, lifting heavy weights will take more dirt off your pile, making it smaller. The pile can only get bigger if you eat more.

For example, I once had a client who wanted to get lean and cut. She wanted her abs to have definition for a trip she was planning. I advised her to lift heavier weights but she told me she didn’t want to bulk up. I told her that she would only bulk up if she started eating more. I put her on my program and within a couple of months; she did get much smaller and toned.

Lifting heavier weights helped her build muscle that raised her metabolism. Because she didn’t eat more, her body used the energy stored in the fat she had to help her tone her muscles. Because her fat was being burned to build muscle, she became smaller and leaner.  In general, women don’t bulk up as easily as men because they lack the male hormones that make them bigger. As I stated above, it is a lot of work to get big. Women who are afraid to bulk up don’t challenge themselves when they exercise. Because they aren’t working as hard, they don’t burn as many calories and also don’t get the results they want.

Therefore, if you want to get smaller you have to eat less and exercise more. The harder you work out, the smaller you will get. Exercise will only make you bigger if you eat more calories than you need to fuel that work out.

More on awareness: Sometimes we think we are burning more calories than we really are. Some fitness modalities insist that their workouts burn a thousand calories an hour. This may not be the case. How many calories you burn depends on your metabolism, size or level of fitness. I go into this with more detail in my post about calories here:

http://heroestraining.com/?p=676

Sometimes we think that we can eat a pizza and ice cream and just work out harder the next day. Well, a pizza and ice cream can add up to over 1000 calories and it’s really hard to burn that off. The average person burns about 300 calories during a one hour cardio session. That person would have to work out for an extra two and half hours to burn off an extra pizza and ice cream. This is fine if you have the time but if you don’t have the level of fitness to do this, you risk injuring your body.

Also, if you are binge eating foods with no nutritional value such as ice cream or pizza, you will feel too lethargic to work out hard. Junk food can add to more fat and ruin your workouts. Therefore, we have to be aware of how we approach our lifestyle. If you have a tendency to overeat, this is usually due to psychological attitudes towards food. I’ve had to change many of my attitudes. I used to think I could just go to extremes and work out like crazy so I could support my binge eating. Now I’m learning to eat moderately and exercise moderately.

This doesn’t mean that you should starve yourself if you want to get smaller. Starving yourself will make your metabolism slow down and your body will store fat, making it harder to lose weight. To read about metabolism, check out this blog post:

http://heroestraining.com/?p=172

Also, I will give more resources below, so you know how many calories you should be consuming and burning.

All in all, how we eat and how we exercise is intricately related in determining the size of our body. If you wish to change your size, you have to really think about how much you are putting into your body and how well you are burning it. We personal trainers are very good at tracking these kinds of things so if you need help, just ask. We usually notice things that most people overlook.

I highly recommend you write down your diet and workouts. Websites such as lose it or fitpal have been very successful in helping people change their size and become aware of their lifestyles. If you go to those websites, it will calculate how many calories you should be eating and burning a day based on your current size. Here are some links to wesbites and apps that will help you track how much dirt you are taking off and putting on:

http://www.myfitnesspal.com/

http://www.healthstatus.com/calculate/cbc

http://fitpal.com/

http://loseit.com/

If you don’t like computers, write down what you eat on a food diary. Studies have shown that people who write down what they eat are 50% more likely to reach their goals.

As you can see, changing the size of your body can be a lot of hard work. If this is what you really want, ask yourself what you are willing to change to reach this goal. Ask yourself why you want to change. Is it for health reasons or for cosmetic reasons? What are you willing to change about your body and what are you willing to accept?

For more information on how to know how many calories you are burning, check out this post:

http://heroestraining.com/?p=676

For more information on how to plan out a fitness regimen, check out this post:

http://heroestraining.com/?p=179

PostHeaderIcon How Many Calories Did I Just Burn?

When the porter Ranch YMCA introduced the new Life Cycle bikes, fully equipped with computer technology, we were all excited! The bike can track RPMS (revolutions per minute), WATTS (energy or power used), duration, mileage and how many calories a person is burning. If you wear a heart rate monitor, the bike synchs with it and shows you your heart rate. It also has a USB plug in case you want to record your workout.

One would think that the members would be super excited and most of them were. However, many were very disappointed when they realized that they weren’t burning 1000 calories an hour. Some of the members who struggled to lose weight was also enrolled on a computer online service that helped track her workouts. According to the service, one hour of indoor cycling burns 1000 calories an hour. They were devastated when the consol on her new bike told her she was only burning 250 calories an hour.

Then again, when I was trained on the bike, I was told that there was a good chance that the members were burning more calories than indicated on the consol. She said that the bike was designed so there was no way the members were burning “less” than the number on the machine. The numbers were based on the lowest estimate. This was an ethical decision on the part of Life Cycle. They didn’t want to falsely claim that you are burning 1000 calories so you can eat a ton of junk after your workout, then wonder why you aren’t losing weight.

Some people also found that they burned more calories on one machine than they did on the other, even though they felt like they sweat more and worked harder on the machine that they were burning less calories on. This is due to nothing but inaccuracy of the machines and how they estimated caloric burn. Some machines ask for your weight and others don’t. Without knowledge of your weight, or resting heart rate, the machines can only be so accurate. Many people found that what their heart rate monitors said didn’t always match what the bike said. In fact, the numbers could be more than 100 calories off depending on the day and which bike was used.

These leads me to one of the most common questions people ask me at the end of a class or session, “How many calories did I burn? (How much energy or fat did I burn?)”

This is a difficult question to answer because that magic number is based on many factors such as the current weight of the individual, their metabolism and their fitness level. There are many ways to record calories, from reading one’s pulse to using heart rate monitors or cardio machines such as the Life Cycle bike. All of these machines vary in accuracy and quality

If you are on any blood pressure medication or beta blockers, reading your pulse or using a heart rate monitor does not apply to you. If you are on blood pressure medication, do not bother using heart rate to measure caloric burn. Your medication changes how your heart beats and renders measuring your heart rate as a way to determine energy expenditure useless.

Then what is the best way to measure how many calories I am burning?

Most experts agree that the most accurate way to measure caloric expenditure is by using the Rate of perceived Exertion (RPE) method. This method is not based on a machine or heart rate but on how you feel. It is based on a scale of 1-10.

A RPE score of 4-6 moving but not struggling. 4-6 means that you are exercising comfortably, sweating and pushing but not to the point of great suffering. You can still talk.

A RPE score of 6-8 means that you are breathing hard. You are working so hard that you can’t talk. You might manage a curse word at your personal trainer but that’s all the talking you can do. You can still continue for over a few minutes but you’ll probably be completely exhausted at the end.

A RPE score of 8-10 means that you are pushing so hard that you can barely keep up. You will have to stop after a few seconds because your body won’t be able to take this type of exertion for very long. I often tell my students that the more you suffer the more calories you are burning and this is the truth. I’ll go into more details on this later.

You may ask, “With all the latest technology, isn’t there an accurate, measurable way to calculate caloric expenditure besides using the RPE method?”

Yes, there is. The most accurate way to measure caloric expenditure is to keep you in a metabolic chamber that tracks your heart rate, repository signals and metabolic reactions and also tracking how much oxygen in the room has been consumed.

There are two mathematical formulas used to track heart rate and caloric burn. The easiest way to determine your maximum heart rate (the fastest your heart can pump in one minute when exercising hard) is to take the magic number 220 and subtract it by your age. However, in a laboratory setting, this method has proven to be as much as 20 heart beats off! This is probably due to the fact that it only uses age as a method for determining metabolism.

The other, more accurate formula is to take the result of subtracting your age from 220. Then take you resting heart rate (the amount of beats your heart can beat in a minute while in complete rest. This is best measured when you first wakeup in the morning) and subtract it from that number. Now determine how many calories you want to burn. If you want to burn a ton of calories, estimate 50 to 80% of your max heart rate, divide that remaining number by 50% or 80%. This will show how many beats per minute you need your heart to beat in order to be working out at this intensity. This formula (the Karvonen) formula is more accurate but still can be up to 10 beats off measurements done in a laboratory.

Websites such as this one can calculate this for you:

http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/calculator_target.asp

Again, these methods should not be used if you are on blood pressure medication and the RPE method is much more accurate.

Okay, back to the magic question, “how many calories did I just burn?”

I will divide workouts into four catagories:

Fidgeting – 50- 150 calories per hour. RPE of 1-4. Heart rate is at rest to up to 40% of max heart rate.

Light aerobics—150-350 calories per hour. RPE of 4-6. Heart rate is 30-55% of max heart rate.

VO2 max—350-600 calories per hour. RPE of 6-8. Heart rate is 55-70% of max heart rate.

Anaerobic – 600-1000 calories per hour. RPE of 8-10. Heart rate is 70-90% of max heart rate.

How to understand the differences:

How do I know if I’m fidgeting? Studies have shown that people who fidget burn up to 150 calories more a day than people who don’t fidget and move around. This is the same amount of calories an average person burns by using a cardio machine for a half hour. So everyday tasks burn calories. Examples are: Climbing stairs, walking a dog, taking a stroll, housework, twitching or any other restless movements.

How do I know if I’m doing light aerobics? You are hot and sweaty but you can still talk. You are exerting yourself but not to the point of having to stop. The average fitness enthusiast works out at this pace. Examples of light aerobics are:  Walking or light jogging, dancing, light cycling, circuit training with lighter weights or movements that aren’t extremely difficult, any movement that is at a pace that you can keep for a long time without having to stop and take a break.

How do I know if I’m doing my VO2 Max? You are struggling and breathing hard but you can keep going. You might be able to say a quick phrase or word but you can’t continue talking. This is a more advanced workout. Examples of VO2 max are: Running a long distance race as hard as you can without stopping, high impact aerobics, hitting or kicking a bag as hard as you can for a long time, cycling up a hill, kettle bell workouts, a hard circuit with difficult moves and heavier weights.

How do I know if I am doing anaerobic training? You are pushing to failure. You are expending yourself to such a high intensity that you have to stop, take a timed break or a few breaths of rest. It is not anaerobic if you are not pushing to failure. You rest between bursts of energy because you have to. This workout is for elite athletes or people who are very fit and not prone to injury or heart attack. Examples of anaerobic training are: Interval training, high intensity boot camp, tabata workouts, speed intervals such as sprinting for a timed interval with timed rest intervals in between, plyometrics (explosive power moves), heavy weight lifting that incorporates many muscles (including the legs) such as Olympic lifting with timed rest periods.

Keep in mind that if you are not fit, you don’t have to do much to burn a lot of calories. For example, I always teach mixed levels and give options in my bootcamp classes. Sometimes I will see someone who is advanced and can do the harder moves without suffering too much. Next to that person will be someone else who is new or not as fit. That person will be doing beginner moves but they are huffing and puffing and I can tell they are really exerting themselves. So, I can safely say that the latter person, the one who is huffing and puffing is burning more calories. This is why RPE is so important. After the latter person loses twenty pounds it will become easy to do the beginning moves because he/she no longer has to carry so much weight. They aren’t huffing and puffing as much so they probably aren’t burning the same amount of calories they used too. This is when it is time to move on to harder moves if one wants to continue losing weight.

For more information on plateauing and how to break a plateau, check out this link:

http://heroestraining.com/?p=80

For more information on plateauing and how to break a plateau, check out this link:

http://heroestraining.com/?p=80

For more information, also check out this link on eating, burning calories and how to get bigger or smaller:

http://heroestraining.com/?p=685

PostHeaderIcon Memoirs of a Chubby Kid Who Wanted to be an Athlete

Some people may look at me and think, “She doesn’t know what it’s like to struggle like I do. She’s already in such good shape.” This wasn’t always the case. When I was a chubby kid, I had all kinds of self image issues. I injured my back three times in my life. I’ve also dealt with a knee injury, a hamstring injury, and a groin injury. Like many moms, I dealt with an awful laceration when giving birth to my large son, while the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck. I know what it’s like to have never been fit. I also know what it’s like to lose the ability to move and have to start over from scratch.

The hardest part of my job is teaching group fitness classes that cater to mixed levels. I give many options and modifications in my classes. It’s still difficult for a beginner, who has never taken a fitness class before, to do the easier modifications while those who have been doing it for years are doing harder moves. “Just do the beginning move,” they hear the perky instructor say, as if it were no big deal, as if it’s not a blow to the ego to realize that one is not as fit as everyone else.

I know how you feel. Actually, most of us do. Some of the greatest athletes were beginners once, eating everyone’s dust as they struggled in the back of the herd. It’s okay to be a beginner. To be a beginner is exciting. It means you are doing something you haven’t done before and there is nowhere else to go but up.

I still recall my first week of high school. I spent the summer working out at a gym for the first time in my life. I wanted to take the next step and lose more weight so I joined the cross country team. Everyone else on the team was so fit. I struggled, barely being able to run. I wanted to be able to run like them, but I couldn’t. They could run for miles and miles. I barely jogged and walked the warm up.

On Friday of that first week of school, a boy who knew my older brother teased me and said that my brother told him that I joined the team to lose weight. That day, after practice, I cried. The stress of my first week of high school had built up inside me and I let it all out.

The main thing that gets me, when I look back at this memory is the horrible feeling of embarrassment I had for wanting to lose weight. It was true. I didn’t want to be the chubby one anymore. I was tired of the fat jokes. I was tired of being slow. I wanted to be thin. What was wrong with that? First I was ridiculed for being overweight. Now I was being ridiculed for wanting to do something about it.

I’m sharing this memory with you now because I want you to know that you are not alone. There were times when I felt overwhelmed and wanted to give up. It’s a perfectly normal feeling, especially if you are new to something. Think of the first time you started a new job. In a way, the physical part is easy. The psychological part, the part that is dealing with the stress of change and the reactions of those around us is the hard part.

By the end of my first week of school, I had blisters all over my feet. My coach told me to purchase running shoes but I told him the sneakers I already wore were brand new and that my parents couldn’t afford new running shoes.  I guess my coach got tired of seeing me kick those shoes off because of my blisters, preferring to run on the football field grass. One day, he pulled me aside. He said that he liked my spunk and that if I kept trying, even though I could hardly jog, I would get better. He gave me a check for 100 dollars to spend on running shoes. He told me that it was scholarship money.

I couldn’t believe it! It seemed like so much money and I never spent that much on shoes before. I bought my first pair of Nike running shoes with that money and they felt amazing. It made me feel like a real athlete.

I probably would have quit if people like Coach Martin hadn’t supported me, letting me know that not giving up is better than winning right away. On my first cross country meet, I almost finished last. There might have been one or two girls behind me. I learned what it was like to literally eat someone’s dust. A whole herd of girls ran ahead of me, kicking dust into my face, mouth and eyes. Before I knew it, they were out in the distance and I was alone in the back with a few of the stragglers. At some point of the 5k course on hills, a new group of girls passed me. Yes, another race started and I hadn’t even finished the first one. Struggling up “pukes peak,” a steep hill at the end of the race, was shear torture. Still, I didn’t give up. My goal was to finish the race and I did.

I ran cross country throughout high school and discovered martial arts in the meantime, something I could get really good at. Over the years, I discovered more movement modalities such as yoga and pilates. I learned that exercise isn’t just about weight loss and muscle gain. Exercise can be used to achieve relaxation, rehabilitation, energy and healing. Over the years I have helped athletes, seniors, kids, beginners and elite practitioners, all with their own unique strengths and weaknesses.

I want everyone to know that there are so many fitness modalities that can help you in your journey to being healthy and strong. You just have to start looking. Try walking, running, dancing, martial arts, yoga, weight lifting, aqua classes, chair classes or many more. We are all on our own journey, a journey that will make us explore our bodies and minds. It will make us come to terms with what we can and can’t do, and what it means for us to be healthy.  I hope to offer to my support, no matter what your set backs and accomplishments might be.

For more personal stories and struggles check out:

Be Kind For Everyone You Meet is Fighting a Hard Battle:

http://heroestraining.com/?p=502

PostHeaderIcon General Tips For Proper Lifting

I will be teaching a seminar for the Kaiser Permanente Theatre Department on proper lifting technique. I have put together a very concise list of tips to remember when you lift something heavy. These tips important to keep in mind whether you are lifting weights in the gym, lifting a box on moving day or picking up a child.

As my gift to you, I am posting this list of lifting tips on my website. It is a very quick read but also a great reminder to help prevent injuries.

Always:

Lift objects as close to the body as possible

Keep shoulders in socket. No slumping of shoulders, slouching or shrugging shoulders into ears. Keep the shoulders down and back.

Engage core muscles. Tighten glutes and abs. No slouching or slumping.

Bend from the hips not from the spine

Bend the knees

Keep head in alignment with spine. Dropping the head can throw off balance and ‘cause falls. It also causes the shoulders to slouch.

Make sure your back is warm and that you are not stiff or tight from sitting or lack of movement when you are about to lift something. If you need to warm up, do so.

Always assume you are lifting a thousand pounds and engage your core. You may not be aware of the weight of the object so don’t relax and assume it is light.

Never:

Lock the joints.

Lift more weight than muscles and frame is capable of handling. Even with good form, lifting more than you are conditioned to lift can lead to injuries. Ask for help if you think something might be too heavy for you.

Twist body while lifting. Try to turn by using your legs.

Stop and think:

Think about how you are going to lift and where you are going before you start to lift. What is your best position? What is the best way to lift this object?

Be aware of your space and make sure your path is clear before you start lifting.

When lifting with a partner, communicate effectively. Talk about where and how you will lift the object first. Lift on a “one two three” count. Communicate as you lift, and tell each other if you see anything in the path in front of them. “There is a step coming up.”