Why I’m a Fitbit hater

I have a more than a couple of clients that are fitbit junkies, and even as someone whose passion is to motivate people to be healthy and move, this annoys me.
Fitbits and the like are extremely helpful in motivating people to get off their duff, to get the regular movement we need every day. Even I get motivated by that! What fitness-minded gal DOESN’T want bragging rights for 10 or 20,000 steps a day, right?

Here’s where I’m a hater: when clients tell me that they don’t come to their workout because they don’t get in as many steps during a strength workout as when they walk or jog around the block.

So, I’m setting the record straight. Here is the truth behind the controversy of strength vs. steps:
Study after study after study shows that, although there is value in cardiovascular exercise, strength training is better for your muscles, your brain, and weight management. So why, please tell me WHY would you waste an hour walking (not even walking in nature–I can totally see the value in that), instead of strength training for 30-45 minutes?

Snow day? here’s something to chew on…

winterscene

Its another snow day here in Cincinnati.  I really love snow days because its a great excuse to cocoon (interpret as sit in front of fire, read, watch movies, work on the computer), and do anything except exercise.  Ever since I got pneumonia several years ago, I can’t run outside.  One more excuse to skip my workout.

But, this year is different because I am committed to training (yes, actually following a training program like I teach) for a May triathlon.  Let me back up a little bit.

So, for the past two years or so, I haven’t been racing, so I haven’t been training.  I’ve been so busy training others that it was really hard for me to get my own training in.  And my friend and training partner got sick 2 years ago, then was working ungodly hours at work.  So that’s my excuse.  I was unmotivated and kind of was in victim/blame mode.  This year something is different.  I actually heard myself.

You know what I mean.  Its like we have this conversation in our heads:

me: I should run today

my head: oh yeah, lets call Mary and see when she can go

me: she can’t go, boo ho0.  I should go anyway.

my head: yeah, but it won’t be as fun, and maybe when you get there it might hurt and then I’ll be sore or hurt myself, and besides its cold out.

me: yeah, better play it safe.

Okay, so then one day in January I was able to step back and really hear myself.  I was like–Oh my gosh!! I sound just like the clients who never come to the gym!  I am so lame!! I am letting everything get in the way of me working out!  If I want to change then I have to take charge and do it.  Pull up my big girl panties.  and Just Do IT.

So, for the past two weeks I have been spinning and running, doing brick workouts, lifting, swimming.  This morning I ALMOST fell back into complacent mode, but I went to the gym (thanks to some motivation from my daughter) and had an awesome workout!!!  Feels so good!  Victorious over my sloth-like tendencies.  🙂 Here is what I did on the treadmill while I watched part of the Pink Panther (I did weights yesterday and missed spinning so I did this today):

Ran at 5.5 (rather slow) for 3 minutes. Then did tabatas at 7.5  (thats 20 seconds run hard/10 rest 8 times).  I rested at 4.0 then sped up to 6.0 until I got to 10 minutes.  Then I did another tabata set same as the first.  Rested until 16 minutes and ended with another tabata set.  That brought me to a little over 2 miles and 20 minutes.  Felt great!!!  Don’t get me wrong.  It was hard, but I have to share this key insight:

As I was doing my second set of tabatas (at about the 4th round), I started to feel more relaxed.  I definitely was keeping track of my form, very conscious of using my core and hamstrings/glutes, but I started to feel like I could breathe slower.

Physiologically this isn’t really earth shattering, but I want to share it with you because of this:

We tend to feel that something is hard and then stop because it hurts, or we feel weak.  This happens when I swim.  My first 100 m my arms are burning, but then it goes away.  Push ups are the same way.  Once warmed up, the muscles, given the proper rest, can keep going and the burn goes away.

So, two lessons here…

#1:  Listen to yourself.  are you playing the victim card?  do you blame other people, your situation, your family for not doing what you really want/need?  work that out.  being a victim is all in your head, so you can change it.  Read a book for inspiration about an athlete who beat all odds and conquered the worst to rise above.  this is a great story.  Listen to some inspiring music like Eye of the Tiger or Firework.  Might sound kind of corny but it works.

#2: Keep going.  Don’t stop when your muscles start to burn (there is a difference between burn and hurt–listen to your body).  Push past the burn and see if it goes away.

Happy snow day!  Share your favorite snow day workout in the comments below!

Elyse

Are you making the 3 most common mistakes with your kids?

These 3 mistakes can cost your kids their health.  It might seem pretty simple, but because you are on this list, you are in the know!  Its difficult to sort out what information is valid and what is not these days.  Marketing hype is at an all time high, especially when it comes to two subjects: kids and health. 

Here is the truth: no hype or BS.  These are the 3 biggest mistakes people make with their kids’ health and what you should really do:

#1.  Do you offer your kids gatorade before, during or after sports? 
This is a big marketing pitfall.  Gatorade and simlar drinks are full of artificial colors, flavors, and sugar–way more than they need of sugar and “electrolytes”.  Drinking these products even occasionally can  cause weight gain in a lot of kids, especially if they start at an early age.   

solutions: 

  • if you are worried about electrolyte balance,purchase natural hydration drinks like coconut water, hoist (a new product), or water. 
  • Water is the best, easiest solution
  • If all that’s available is a gatorade-type drink, cut it in half or more with water.  They probably won’t know the difference.
  • Avoid artifical colors in all foods, artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucrolose, and acesulfame K.
  • Read the labels!  If you don’t know what it is, don’t give it to them.
  • If there is an excessive amount of sugar or the Total Carbohydrates are higher than 15, its like drinking soda.  

#2.  Most parents don’t know how to talk to their kids about weight.  Whether your kid is overweight or not, this is a very hot topic, especially among teens and tweens.  Do you leave magazines around that have a lot of headlines about losing weight or being “skinny?”  Kids pick up on this at an early age, around 8 or 9 years old, when they are becoming aware of their bodies and that they are starting to change.  They will internalize these messages even if we don’t talk about it with them.  There is no doubt that this is a touchy subject.  It can conjure up a lot of emotions for parents and kids.  If you need help, consult your pediatrician, or a psychologist who specializes in body image.

solutions:

  • If your child has a weight issue or is just bigger than other kids her age, talk to her about it.  Don’t ignore it.  She or he knows that they are bigger than the other kids and probably already feels self conscious about it, but doesn’t know what to do. 
  • Talk in terms of “health”, versus fat or skinny.  Even adults should refer to weight this way.   Talk about what is healthy, what is unhealthy, and why its important to you.
  • Emphasize that everyone comes in different shapes and sizes, that there are some things that we can control, like what we eat (healthy or unhealthy choices) and how we choose to spend our time (exercise, or sedentary activities), and some things we can’t control (how tall we are, how easily we gain weight, etc). 
  • Reference images in magazines and on TV as unrealistic.  Be honest about how women are portrayed in the media and express your opinion about it.  It can be very empowering for a young woman to know that its unrealistic and unnecessary to compare herself to what is in the media. 

#3. Does your teen work out with you?  Do you do the machine circuit at the gym together?  While this may be a great bonding experience, having kids work out on machines is not a great way to teach them about conditioning.  I know this really goes against the grain for some, but this is old school.  Here is what you could be doing:

  • Engage in real movement.  Our bodies move in amazing different ways, working the whole body all together.  We should condition our bodies this way too.  This is called “functional movement.”
  • Let them play like kids.  Playing on the playground is very beneficial for overall skill development and mental let down from the stresses of life.  This is extremely important for kids today.
  • Ride bikes together, swim laps, run around the block, if you want to engage them in some more traditional exercises.  I love these exercises because they are things that they can do for the rest of their lives. 
  • Teach them how to use gym equipment at all ages.  The old precaution of not lifting weights before age 13 has banned younger kids from the gym.  Its true–kids can get hurt (at any age) if they don’t use equipment properly.  However, kids can toss a 4 lb medicine ball, stand or even jump on the bosu, learn how to engage their core muscles with planks, do pull ups, and lunges. 

Did you see yourself in this article?  Did this help you?  Please leave a comment!! 

Thanks and  be well…Elyse

 

Foam roller 101

My last post was all about what is a foam roller and why use it.  This time I’m going to give you some examples of what to do with it.

Injuries:

As I said previously, foam rollers are great for injury prevention, to keep muscles balanced, connective tissue healthy, and free from inflammation. But, most people don’t “meet” the foam roller until they’re already injured.  Here, I am going to go over the most common injuries and how to use a foam roller to alleviate tightness and heal the inflamed region.  First, lets briefly understand what’s going on in most injuries.  When I talk about injuries here, I’m not talking about a torn ligament or something very graphic like that.  I am referring to 90% of injuries that occur in runners, bikers, tennis players, and even sedentary people who have some kind of joint pain that is not “orthopedic,” meaning its not caused by something that needs surgery. One way I like to quickly assess the need for medical intervention is to ask these questions:

  • Is the pain constant or consistent with weight-bearing activities. Or, does it go away after using it for a while?
  • Is there a lot swelling or fluid in the joint? Typically micro tears don’t cause a lot of swelling.  An acute case can cause some, but its not significant.  This usually indicates something more serious.
  • When administering the foam roller technique, does the pain lessen?  Even if the tenderness on the trigger point doesn’t go away completely, it should lessen a little if its going to respond to this treatment.

Most injuries are caused by repetitive overuse, tight muscles, and muscle compensation which results in microscopic tears in connective tissue, causing inflammation (and pain).

This is usually characterized by a stiffness and pain in a joint that lessens once its “warmed up.”  For example, people who have heel pain (plantar fasceitis) have the most pain when they wake up in the morning (when the connective tissue is “cold” and tight), but the pain lessens as they walk around more and more.

Okay, now that we have that down, lets talk specifics:

Plantar Fasceitis:  sitting on the floor with your calf (bottom leg) on the foam roller (FR), cross legs and lift your hips off the floor.  Roll around and find a tender spot in the calf (it might be on the inside of the calf).  Once you find the spot, hold it. Don’t roll around on it like you’re giving it a massage.  This is a very common mistake and won’t give you the best results.  It might hurt but it will go away, and it will hurt less the next time.  I know your heel pain is down lower, but trust me.  This is the way to treat it.

Shin Splints:

Shin Splints are characterized by pain in the front of the lower leg (the shin).  Rolling on the back of the leg (same as above), helps, but also rolling on the front of the leg benefits some people as well, especially if the calf rolling is not alleviating the pain.

Next post:  stay tuned for more–there is still so much to go over!!  Alleviating knee pain, hip pain, and back pain.