Is Crossfit a good fit? Maybe…..

getting ready  Getting a little bored with your routine?  Perhaps you’ve hit the proverbial wall; your weight loss has stalled, your DVDs hold the same old same old, or maybe you want to spice things up–workout wise that is.  There are many ways to add spice; but for now, mainstream exercise is the topic.

Some clients have asked my opinion on Crossfit.  I ask “what do you know about it?”  Most of them tell me “nothing.”

While employed as a staff nurse, I recall a young patient whose doctor visited her with discharge instructions.  This was highly unusual.  Most physicians leave this task to the floor nurse.  I went to her room to help her pack, as well as clarify anything she didn’t understand.  She informed me she slept through most of what her doctor was telling her.  “Can you ask him to come back?” she asked.  I pulled up a chair for a little “heart to heart.”  Understand that this patient was not groggy from surgery.  She hadn’t had any medication to induce drowsiness.  Nor was she a pediatric patient.  Though not much older than she, I put on my “experienced” face.  I told her I would put out a call for the physician, but she had to explain WHY.  This shook her out of her lethargy.  I also told her what I’ve used as a signature phrase throughout my nursing career.  “You are responsible for your own healthcare.”

And just like that patient, I remind my clients that they are responsible for their well-being.  Whether in the capacity of staff nurse, educator, or personal trainer, I am simply a facilitator.

CROSS TRAINING VS. CROSSFIT

Some confusion seems to exist–there are those who interchangeably use Crossfit and cross training.  Crossfit may be a form of cross training.  Considering the intensity level however, it may not be a fit for everyone.  I think of cross training as a form of exercise to alternate with a normal routine.  For example, my son runs cross-country and track.  He occasionally sports a t-shirt around the football elite which reads “My sport is your punishment.”  True or untrue, running would be their cross training.  Players attempting to catch him, to give him a piece of their mind might be their Cross fit, but I digress.

CHECK IT OUT

Crossfit appears to be a collaboration of weight training, plyometrics, rope climbing, tire throwing, tire carrying, gas mask running, kickboxing, obstacle course phenomenon which appears to be grabbing major attention–for diverse reasons.  However, I’m not  convinced that all of the above activities, while wearing the Crossfit label, are indeed mainstream Crossfit.  Still if you are interested, it pays to keep in mind a few ideas.  I will preface this list with what I say in most posts, when talking fitness.  “Not every exercise is for every body.”

1.  Observe to preserve.  Assessment is the first step in the nursing process.  This is the information gathering stage.  It includes history of present illness, review of systems, as well as medications.  Assessment or inventory can be your best friend when discerning whether a program, or even a trainer is right for you.  By observation, you preserve your resources (time, money, and your body) before signing on the dotted line.

2.  Do your homework.  What’s in the facility?  This includes the trainers.  Are they certified?  I’m not saying certification always implies results or guarantees safety, but it does imply credibility.  Asking questions should never be a threat to a personal trainer.  It helps both client and trainer decide if they are a fit for each other.

3.  Ask for a trial class–even if you have to pay for it.  Not everything is free.  Trainers have expenses.  Their time like yours, is a precious commodity.  But before you commit to package or buy 3 get one free deals, ask to try a class.  The only way to know  if something is really for you, is to do it.

Need a little more info?  Check out http://www.crossfit.com.  Videos, personal success stories, and more details can be found on the website.

Fitness is indeed a journey, and its destination can be uncertain–like life itself.   it is fraught with bumps in the road, boredom, success and setbacks.  And like life, there needs to be challenge to effect change.  Yet there are many ways to challenge yourself, to bring about that change.  Furthermore, the challenges you are willing to face, should never outweigh the benefits you want to reap.  Setbacks in the form of muscle breakdown, joint displacement, or other injuries are not the change most of us desire.  Therefore as with any exercise, workout regime, or even trainer, it is up to the participant be mindful; and awake.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Struggling with your weight? You may need this….

need rest Most of us realize, though may not put into practice, the benefits of uninterrupted sleep.  Yet did you know that sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain?

http://runnersworld.com/weight-loss.  The article is entitled “Sleep deprivation may lead to weight gain.”  It is dated November 27, 2012.

HORMONE HIJINKS

This is a tale of two hormones to be exact; ghrelin and leptin.  Ghrelin is the hormone which signals hunger.  Leptin is the one which tells you that you are full.  To keep it straight, I have nicknamed them: “greedy ghrelin and laid back leptin.”  If you are not getting your “great 8” your body can become confused.  A confusion which favors “greedy ghrelin.”  Translation?  Larger appetite–which can translate to a larger you.

The article goes on to state that even if you are restricting calories, if you sleep less than six hours, you sabotage your fat burn.  Since muscle is built around rest, this makes sense.  Lean muscle mass is now sacrificed in favor of fat.

It further stands to reason that the longer you are awake, there’s more opportunity to eat.  Example?

Ever heard of the “Freshman Fifteen?”  It’s that fifteen pounds (or so) that awaits many HS students, welcoming them to collegiate life.  Late nights spent studying or otherwise, is often blamed for the dreaded weight gain.

In the battle of the bulge, there is little quarter given, or fair fight.  For most (including the most avid athlete) it is mostly uphill with little downhill, and hardly any coast.  Well, this may be that rare coast.  Yes, fitting more sleep into hectic schedules can be next to impossible.  This I know from personal experience.  Unfortunately, I also know how it affected my appetite.

From late night (seemed like all night) care plan preparations, to early clinicals, to the constant testing and review, obtaining a nursing degree in two years leaves little time for rest.  Once finished, you must sit for boards.  If you fail, two years of hell– I mean study is down the drain.  Next comes your first job as a registered nurse.  Rarely if ever, do you have the opportunity to work a day shift.  An evening or night shift, is more likely where you will begin.  Add to this skipped lunches/breaks (I often worked without one, as many nurses do), and you find your body retaliates.  Sometimes in weight loss, often in weight gain.  For me it was the latter.

Making yourself a priority is not on most of our “to do” lists.  As a caregiver, wife, mother, late night studier, and personal trainer, I get it.  Two certifications and a higher degree in nursing later, I really got it.  Unfortunately by then, twenty pounds had gotten to me.

Starting a new career in personal training helped; after all, you have to walk the walk if you’re going to talk the talk.  However I have found, no one can help you understand self-worth.  Other’s experiences can be a guide.  But it still is a path–pitfall, downfall, slick, slippery and all, you must tread yourself.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Be sure to check out my ABOUT page.

Questions? Comments?  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

What’s in my “toolbox?” A good stretch

You’ve been hitting the gym at least 4x a week.  Perhaps the pavement, treadmill, or track is where you work out your frustrations as well as your body.  Whether you fight the battle of the bulge doing thisstrong pull up

or thisexcuses dont run,or combination thereof, you probably are in need of some of this.dancer pose

RECOVERY–A tale of two strategies

Actually, recovery is a plethora of strategies.  Strength training usually means you are taking a day or two off between workouts.  Your muscles must recover and rest to perform.  You can see my previous post “If this isn’t part of your workout routine, you may be wasting your time.”  It is dated June 13, 2013 under FITNESS.

If you are a runner, there is debate and dissent regarding recovery runs.  The ideology here is to enhance and utilize muscles not normally used if rested and refreshed, then going for a run.  If you are training for distance, this actually makes sense; as you will need the help of ancillary muscles to support your efforts.

As I have stated in previous posts, for me, recovery is just that–a day to recover.  And nothing recovers like rest.  That being said, I have found my body does not always cooperate.  It may have different ideas.

NO REST FOR THE WEARY

You are lying in bed–about to drift into a well-deserved sleep.  You may get there, or maybe just to the outer limits.  You are then wrenched from your slumber by a foot or leg unwilling to cooperate.  Perhaps it’s a cramp in your instep or toes.  Maybe your legs are a little tingly or just plain restless.  Your arms could be starting their own protest.  What’s going on?

Proper hydration may be an issue.  Beyond this however, your body may be saying “if you want rest, give me some.”  The best way to do this is by including a day or two of stretching.  No it doesn’t mean it has to take the same amount of time as your normal workout.  But it does mean more than 5-10 minutes.

I know what you are thinking, because I’ve been there.  You include a minute or two, or even five of post workout stretching–but it’s usually after an hour or more exercise.  Your body is basically saying “What the hell?  I do all this for you–and that’s all I get? And now you want to go to sleep? Think again.”  Indeed you should.

Whether you are an avid runner, or your idea of working out includes anything but, stretching tight muscles is rest for your body.  A few minutes after the fact is great, but may not be sufficient.

While I enjoy yoga (actually hot yoga), I realize a 60-70 minute practice is not for everyone.  If you are just getting started, a more realistic approach may be to start with a cardio warm-up.  A few jumping jacks, or even a slow jog in place can be where you begin.  Afterwards, with legs hip distance apart, roll your torso downward, reaching for your toes.  Bend your knees enough as to place your hands on the floor.  Alternate bending and straightening your knees.  Roll upward slowly when finished, vertebra by vertebra.

Another favorite of mine is to stand with your feet hip distance apart.  Keeping your legs straight as possible, roll your torso down, reaching for your right leg with both hands.  Keep right leg straight, head and torso reaching for right foot. (You need not be able to touch your foot)  Bend left knee, while maintaining your position over straightened right leg.  Roll up slowly.  Repeat process on left side, this time keeping left leg straight, then bend right knee.

If you have hip or knee issues, consult your medical professional for guidance.

If you’re interested in a yoga based stretch routine, check out “Yogalates” on You-Tube.  The entire workout is an hour and a half.  However, it is divided into 4 segments, starting with a beginner section.  If you are just getting started, this might be for you.  Pace is slow and articulate.  Another pick is “60 minute Yin Yoga for Spine.”  This is one in a series listed under http://www.eckhartyoga.com.  Again, the operative word for both is “slow.”  If you are an advanced yogi, or looking for something more up tempo, these may not be your routines of choice.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  If your body is keeping you up at night, then it is reacting to your activity–even if it is in the name of healthier living.  Giving it proper hydration and nutrition as well as medical attention is key.  Equally so, is counterbalancing your intense routines with a day of lengthening tight muscles.  Keep in mind, sleep deprivation can come with its own issues–potential weight gain, to name one.

But that’s another issue, for another day.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

I’m hungry….

???????????????????Are you really?  Or are you craving?  Seems like a simple question.  When we are faced with something like this, it’s difficult to tell.  Yet at other times, we know.  Perhaps we are celebrating a special occasion.  We may have feasted like a Roman emporerer, but still indulge in dessert.   For most of us, this misstep won’t spell dietary demise.  Yet it can be a problem for anyone, if these slip-ups, add up.

There are many strange and bizarre lengths many try to alleviate cravings.  From swallowing diet pills which expand (some will expand in your throat if they aren’t swallowed quickly), to gargling mouthwash every time a craving hits, the possibilities though extreme, seem endless.

If you are brushing your teeth faithfully after every meal, perhaps the latter is more practical.  But I don’t think I prefer choking on pill to a craving.

Here’s another solution; a couple which may help.

1.  Drink first, eat last.  No, I’m not talking alcoholic beverages.  Alcohol can lead to dehydration–which may be the reason you believe you are hungry.  Dehydration can disguise itself as hunger.  If you are truly hungry after satisfying your thirst, drinking H20 or anything else will only go so far.

2.  Could you eat an apple, broccoli, or lean chicken breast?  If the answer is “yes,” you are probably truly hungry.  If not, chances are it’s a craving.  This idea I found quite unique–simple enough, and worth a try.  According to participants using this method, most of the time, they were experiencing a craving.  For these three women, it was estimated they saved a total of approximately 1200 calories between them.  This idea came from the Dr. Oz show, which aired Friday, August 16th; here in the Chicago area.  More ideas about handling cravings are posted on his site.

Battling the bulge is never easy.  Even the leanest and meanest find it an uphill battle.  Not every solution is for everybody; what works for one will not work for another.  It helps to be resourceful, avail yourself of current information, evaluate its practicality in your life, then apply.  Perseverance is also key.  So besides questioning yourself about the apple or broccoli, ask this:  “How bad do I want it?” Is that bag of chips or more on my plate worth an extra hour of exercise that day?  If not, you may want to rethink that second helping–or skip the dessert tray.

Getting in shape and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is like pursuing education beyond high school.  You are familiar with the basics, but realize you need more.  It is really continuing education.  There is sacrifice, tests to pass, and tests which you will fail–all while going about your already busy schedule. Therefore, it helps to know “how bad do I want it?”

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.  Questions? Comments?  Email me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

Got a minute?

teaching fitnessOk, I’m asking for more than a minute–more like 15-20 of them.

Newer research suggests that intermittent bouts of exercise, is better than an hour spent at the gym.  Furthermore, if your time is spent sitting all day, that hour you spent working out is offset by the hours you spend sedentary.  Think about it.  If you are sitting 85-90% of the time, while only 10% (or less) is spent exercising, does that add up to an active lifestyle?

Yes, a large part of this investment is nutrition.  However, if you can find 10-20 min, 3-4 times a day, to walk, cycle, do a portion of a workout dvd, run, throw or kick a ball, your metabolism begins to believe you are active.  It then starts to behave as if you are active.  What does that mean? Better use of stored fat for calorie expenditure.  You may also avoid the “munchies” that an hour or two of high intensity exercise often provides.

You don’t have to take my word for it.  A similar story appeared on Dr. Oz–with Chris Powell illustrating short, but effective exercises designed to rev up your metabolism.  I’m sure if you search his site, you will find it.

Consider this in the meantime.  To what do you attribute the popularity of DVDs divided in 15-20 minute intervals?  Why is something like Tony Horton’s “10 minute trainer” gaining attention?  Better yet….why do so many fail to stick to an exercise program, that requires an hour or longer, 4-6x a week?  Need another “for instance?”  New Year’s resolutions.  A high percentage of them involve losing weight.  Of that, perhaps fifty percent or more will join a health club.  After about 6 weeks into the new year (I’m being generous) how many are still there?

Yes, life is busy–and there are only 24hrs in day.  We all must take care of families, eat, sleep, and work.  But that doesn’t excuse any one of us, from taking care of ourselves.  Take a walk; take your kids for a walk.  Run around the park with them.  Climb a monkey bar–great exercise for agility.  Whatever it is–10 minute yoga, 15 minute walk at lunch, 20 minute run, 15 minutes of “hide and seek,” it will add up; and more to the point, so will the benefits.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Questions? Comments? Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

Detox 360–Putting it all together

solitudeWhen I began this series, I knew its core wouldn’t be the latest herbal enema.  That can be found in any health food store, and online.  No, this had to entail a bit more–it had to address lifestyle detox initially.   Once completed, I then posted “my favorite reset cleanse.”  Only when lifestyle intervention had been outlined, would I post my idea of a detox or cleanse.

Beginning with “Clean up your act,” this is where the journey initiates.  If your life is out of control or a cesspool, chances are, so is your nutrition.  Your body just follows suit.  That’s why for me, detox must be 360.

TALKING THE TALK BY TAKING THE WALK

Key issues in detoxing your life have been addressed.  A “reset” button has been pushed; not only in your life, but if you have tried the cleanse, also with your body.

If you have put any of this into practice, chances are, others notice.  There is no better way to illustrate a principle, than by becoming a living example.  Continuing on this path requires due diligence; just like nursing.  As I have often told patients as well as my clients, “you are responsible for your healthcare.” Or “you are responsible for your change.”  Personal trainers, just like the medical community, are simply the facilitators.  We show you what needs to be done to maintain your health.  It’s up to you to put it into practice.  However, to truly complete the circle, you become an example to others.  No need to shout it from the rooftops–your improvements will do it for you.

The finishing touch I would like to add is this:  All of what I have addressed in this series is meant to be detox.  Starting with your life, resetting with your cleanse, and understanding daily activity (need not always be intense) creates, rejuvenates, and reclaims your perspective.  And really, what is a detox or cleanse supposed to accomplish?  It’s meant to start a change, and end with being changed.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Questions? Comments?  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

 

 

This might surprise you…..

recovery neededFrom my teen years till now, I considered cardio the ideal fat burner.  High intensity exercises, ranging from INSANITY, back to 80’s style aerobics, were (and still are) the core of my routines.  Strength training, machines or free weights, were a distant second.  If I was too tired for cardio, machines and weights were my “back-up.”  I tolerated strength training; like many tolerate or endure uninvited in-laws; after two weeks.

While that ideology has changed for me, most of you familiar with my posts, realize running preserves my sanity.  Even after a car accident, running was my constant–the north star in a time of uncertainty.  It was there for me to shed the “baby weight.”  It was there after a long work day; working with people who made snobbery an art form.

Since most of my running consists of submaximal workouts, not sprinting, this information would not apply.

Did you know that fat oxidation is reduced, with increasing exercise intensity?

Scraping the surface only, here are a few reasons.

Intramuscular triglycerides (lipids inside of muscle) are used 1st.  Then comes fatty acid oxidation.  Possibly, your body likes to hang on to its excess baggage; for a couple of reasons.  Just in case there’s a famine; just in case you decide to skip a meal or two–just in case you become pregnant.

Lactate also plays its role; it stops fatty acid mobilization.  The good news:  if you are an endurance athlete, you produce less lactate.  Yes, it’s a slow process to become one of those.   BUT, another perk of endurance training–when you finish, fat oxidation is increased.  Free fatty acids in plasma and intramuscular triglyceride oxidation is increased; contributing to fat usage.

What’s the take away if you want to burn fat?  Slow and low.  More to the point, you might want to alternate low and moderate intensity workout days.

My opinion?  High intensity should be part of your regime.  Why?  To shake things up a bit.  Your body can reach a set point with any routine; high or low.  However, if you start low, you still have somewhere to go.  If you start high, your appetite will definitely match that.  That will leave you with an ever-increasing hunger–quite disconcerting if you are trying to lose weight.

In subsequent posts, I will try to address more on this subject.  The exercise physiology class in which I’m enrolled and deriving this information, should shed additional light.  There is more to fitness than just the newest 3 day detox, or trendy workout routine.  It entails, as with nursing, evidence based practice.  Coupled with experience, this is the premise from which I operate–both as a nurse and now as a nurse personal trainer.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.