Focus on what you can, not what you can’t..

never too old to runI’ve often wondered how people choose a form of exercise.   Are they reminiscing, wishing to recapture their glory days?  Perhaps they ran in high school.  Maybe they played college and/or pro ball.   Maybe it was 2am, and that term paper with annotated bibliography was beginning to ramble.  And those size “small” yoga pants? They have somehow morphed into a size XXL.  Taking a much overdue break, they only thing on is infomercials.  Infomercials promising to take you from your double XL, back into a REAL size small.  You get the idea.  There’s only one problem.  Well more than one.

NOT EVERY EXERCISE IS FOR EVERYBODY

I like variety.  Variety in my workout routine is tantamount.  Running though, is where I find my way back.  The furthest I’ve ever ran is 10 miles. I’ll remember that day as long as I live.  When I’d finished, a little voice told me “this is the furthest you’ll ever go.”  It turned out to be right.  Fast forward a bit, and I found myself picking up weight because I wasn’t running as much as I once did. So enter in a plethora of workouts from INSANITY, to ballet inspired exercises, to PILATES w/bands, hot yoga, etc.  You name it, I did it.  And it WORKED.  I found myself with better muscle tone than running ever gave me.  But somewhere down the line, something else happened–a bulging lumbar disc.  And sciatic flares which range from tingling, to burning, to numbing down the length of my right leg; often reaching my 2nd toe.  They are at their most aggravating about a week to 10 days before my menses.  So what does that mean to my workouts?  More to the point, what does it mean to me?

NO EXCUSES

Many of us deal with issues ranging from bulging discs to knee issues, to ankle problems, etc.  But what I’ve found, is that these declarations won’t emancipate us from what needs to be done.   Whether it’s tennis elbow or cardiac rehab from an MI, results don’t come from declarations of   ” I have this or that..”  They come from doing.  That being said, doing just any form of exercise is not the way.  I can attest to that.  So what is?

FUNCTION,  FORM, and that nasty little N-word–NUTRITION.  There, I said it.

STARTING AT THE END

When I begin MY PROGRAM with a client, is doesn’t start with exercise.  Anyone at any time can You-Tube myriads of exercise routines.  Fitness trackers abound which help you track your steps, tell you if you’ve been sitting too long, or when to move.  Diet plans are not in short supply either.  Everyone has his or her own pet project or advice on what works, what doesn’t, while promising this is the “last diet you’ll ever need.”  They may be right; but chances are, they’re wrong.  Why?  Simple–they don’t have YOUR BODY.  You have your body.   The responsibility is squarely on your shoulders to seek out what works and what doesn’t, and what probably never will.   So this is where I begin–when those who come to me, are at their end.  But more to the point, I begin with intake; an inventory of what THEY ARE IN TAKING.

Is there more to it than that?  Yes there is.  So stay tuned..

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

 

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

 

 

True or false-the maybe of plateaus

reflecting in chair We’ve all heard of them–even stated “I’ve hit a plateau.”  Stagnate, nothing is working.  I’m doing everything right.  Well–maybe.

When someone says this, I can empathize, but not actualize.  Let me explain.  Cue in one of the rules of physics.  “For every action, there is an equal & opposite reaction.”  That doesn’t mean positive or negative. It’s just one of those “facts” here on planet earth.  It is also reason one for my insistence on food diaries.  And yes the old fashioned, hand written kind.

ACCOUNTABILITY is more likely Kinesthetic

Why?  Not real sure.  It seems to follow that when something is hand written, it becomes actual–actualized & realized.  The latter says it all.  If you take time to record your movement-exercise, what you ate afterwards, as well as what you were snacking on while binge watching political skulduggery, you may find that wasn’t your only BINGE.

EXERCISE is exercise–not really

True enough, exercise is movement.  Your activities of daily living (ADLs) are considered movement.  But most of us want more–we want shape, tone, definition, and of course muscle.  For me, I would add elongation w/accompanying definition.  Whatever you crave from your exercise routine–ask yourself “Am I getting it?”  Believing you’ve hit a plateau means THAT routine is no longer delivering.  It may have taken you into a smaller dress size, but may fall short in fine tuning.

TIME OUT to tune in

Mindfulness & meditation are often used (and overused) catch phrases without delivering specifics.  Each one of us is responsible for acquiring our own insights into these.  No one can really tell you how, when, or even if to do this.  We are each accountable for our own mindset.  The takeaway however, is that your ARE ACCOUNTABLE for it.  Sowing to mindlessness reaps its own ramifications–in excesses beyond overeating.

My own delve into this was through hot yoga–and not just an exercise class aka “yoga.”  That was the gateway.  Developing a practice of my own helped me with both meditation & mindfulness.  So it was a two-fer for me.

I’m BORED

If you are bored with counting every carb, shuffling through your cardio, or your grunt & fart routine at the gym, CHANGE IT.  With the advent & explosion of home workouts–from hip-hop to ballet, PILATES to YOGILATES, its easy to find that change.  Also consider trying something you may have been afraid to do.  It doesn’t mean you stick with it.  It just means you’ve tried it. For some it may be CROSS FIT. For others, learning to dance is enough to induce Metamucil-like results.  Whatever the case, doing the unexpected raises heart rate, and stimulates receptor sites in your brain BECAUSE YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING NEW.

Need a few more reasons to explain why you’ve plateaued?  Check these out.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/reasons-you-arent-losing-weight_us_56ddb220e4b03a4056793d2f?

Keep up and keep at it.  Need a little more in-depth advice?

Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

 

 

 

Feed or Fast?

eat it up  Recently, a client asked about intermittent fasting.  “Do you think it’s a good idea?”  My reply was “that depends.”

I’ve read some of the literature on fasting as a way to curb appetite, and of course lose weight.   I’ve also seen some conflicting programming on this topic.  There is a school of thought which believes you should eat within an hour of getting up.  Conversely, there are those which believe you should tighten your window of eating.  According to this, breakfast should be somewhere between 11am and 12pm.  Your last meal should be no later than 5pm.  While neither of these approaches represent a real fast, they may hold some promise for those struggling with weight.

MY TAKE ON FASTING

I’m not convinced this is for everyone; especially if you are taking insulin or on an oral diabetic agent.  If you must take medication with food, again, I don’t think this is your option.  My own delve into this however, taught me a few things.  One insight was this:  as children we are taught to control bowel and bladder.  These are base functions; and there are many a time we put off using the washroom at the first sign of urgency.  Appetite is also a base function.  And yes, often we cannot eat when we want.  If we can though, is it possible to delay that desire?  It is, and can be a teaching tool as well as an exercise in mindful eating–as opposed to the mindless eating many of us indulge.  Controlling an appetite can be likened to controlling bowel and bladder.  Though you may not have thought about it that way (or wanted to), they are both an exercise in self-control.

CONTROLLING AN APPETITE; A METAPHOR FOR TAKING CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE?

Maybe.  I’m not a psychologist.  So this is purely my perspective.  From what I’ve seen there is a link.  More to the point, I believe once there is a change in consciousness, a change takes place in your life.  However, you have to start somewhere.  For those New Year New You believers, know that all the exercise gurus and personal trainers online, in person, or on DVD, will do nothing for you–until you REALLY WANT IT.  Really wanting something involves sacrifice, introspection, and cultivation.  Many of us have in some form or another, wanted to further our education. What did that involve?  Staying up late, even though you had to work the next day?  Saying “no” to a splurge, maybe even what seemed like a necessity, at the time?  Perhaps parties, bridal and baby showers passed you by.   The list could easily go on.   The introspective part of you may have questioned your decision.  Yet if you persisted and really wanted your aspirations, you cultivated–you nourished your desire.  Hopefully you saw it come to fruition.  Again, the question had to be “How bad do I want it?”  And it had to go beyond the New Year New You cliches.

So whats my take on intermittent fasting?  It’s a tool, like anything else in your weight loss toolbox.  Again if you are on medication, diabetic, or have any questions, you should check with your nurse practitioner or MD.  However, experimenting with what makes you full, keeps you fuller longer, or simply asking yourself “do I need one more bite?” are part of the introspective process.  Yes this takes time to cultivate; and involves a bit of self-sacrifice.  You are making an investment.  But just like education, once you have it, no one can take it away from you.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be like…

fitness model male  Chiseled cheeks, bulging pecks, core to die for.  Who doesn’t want that?  For women, a slender and small waist is what most want. Definition is on everyone’s wish list.  Many of us differ, and I would most definitely decline the newest rage; big bass.  Never desired the apple bottom–but to each her own.  Getting my sweat on at my favorite gym, I notice a few things.  Most of the trainers, male for female, really show little differential.  Not just in the way they train, but in the way they look.  Now that for me, is a problem.  It should be for you too.

EMPHASIS–contraction

How many of you, if working with a trainer, found that most of their routines focus on machines, ropes, burpees, free weights, and a litany of other torture tactics they favor?  This is fine, if you’re looking to be a reasonable facsimile of THEM.  Which in many cases, not all, means CONTRACTED.  Your forte doesn’t have to be fitness to understand. Have they ever talked about lengthening, or ECCENTRICS?  CONCENTRIC exercises shorten and strengthen; which is needed to build muscle and burn fat.  BUT ECCENTRIC exercises–those which lengthen and strengthen, is equally important.  And this goes for men as well as women, but it’s the latter who usually desire longer, leaner muscle.  Men focus on power and strength.  But how many of you really want that hunched, shoulder elevated look, when standing? If there’s no balance in your routine between eccentric & concentric exercises, that may be your future–if not your now.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

VARIETY–not just the spice of life, but essential to your routine

We all have routines we enjoy.  For some this means running, others the gym, others still yoga, Pilates, ballet, or a combo platter of the all of the above.  I’ve always loved running, but there came a time when it didn’t always love me back.  Enter in my delve into the world of Pilates, ballet inspired exercises, and ESSENTRICS.  If you’re unfamiliar with the latter, take a look-see.  Originally billed as CLASSICAL STRETCH w/Miranda Esmonde-White, these exercises do more than just lengthen out contracted muscle.  They can help you do & do more of what you enjoy.  Another tip?  BIKRAM yoga.  Bikram yoga for many, is considered the original hot yoga.  How does it differ from other types of yoga?  The room is heated to about 105 F.  The same sequence of 26 postures is repeated in every class.  While this may seem counter-intuitive to variety being the spice of life, it really is a “reset.”  A reset which like Essentrics, can enable you to continue with your favorite form of exercise.

While it is true a body in motion tends to stay in motion, it is equally worth noting this.  Repetition without re-calibration can breed contempt.  And not just your contempt for the exercise, but your body’s contempt for it as well.  This can manifest in a number of ways.  From overuse syndrome, to some muscles becoming more tense while others are underused, it all adds up the same–too much of one thing, and not enough of the other.

So if your personal trainer, favorite form of exercise, or New Year’s resolution has become battle fatigued, set it or him/her aside.  Do your homework, and rethink your training techniques.  If you’re not seeing the results you want, it may be your exercise guru doesn’t know how to get you there.  Or perhaps your routine will not yield what you long to see.  Either way, “being like,” isn’t being you.  You can be your own worst enemy or best friend.  If the latter, investigate these suggestions.  You will find your routine less routine, with energy and refinement you believed were from a bygone era.

As always, check with your nurse practitioner or MD before you make that commitment.  New Year New You is overrated.  The Old You may need some adjustments and fine tuning, but that’s what people like me enjoy doing.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Need help?  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

This is getting confusing…one last word

I'm not the enemyHigh protein low carb diets are reaching epidemic proportion.  And yes, there is a reason I’m borrowing this phrase.  From sugary snacks touted as “high protein, low carb,” to ridiculous amounts of meat only consumption, it’s time to put forth a few facts.  Then, you decide.

Have to preface this with a disclaimer.

As a former dialysis nurse, I am somewhat reserved and dubious about protein intake; especially HIGH PROTEIN INTAKE. True enough, most reading this are not in renal (kidney) failure. Protein must be moderated for those suffering from renal insufficiency. However, it makes me consider the overly paraded cascade of high protein consumption.

CREATININE

Creatinine is a test used to diagnose renal (kidney) function. It can be increased in those who ingest large amounts of meat. Yes, it is only elevated slightly and can be transient–but my question is this. What happens if it is continually elevated, because that’s the majority of the person’s diet? Can the kidneys keep up with this demand?

BUN

Blood, Urea, Nitrogen (BUN) measures the amount of urea and nitrogen in your blood. So what’s that supposed to mean? Well, urea is the end product of PROTEIN metabolism. During a meal, protein breaks down into amino acids. In your liver, these amino acids are catabolized and free ammonia is formed. These molecules combine and form urea, which is deposited into blood, and given over to the kidneys to excrete (rid themselves of). Again, if this is 60-70% (or more) of a person’s diet, now what?

(Source: Mosby’s Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests–3rd edition)

QUESTIONING; NOT DEBATING

I did preface this with my bias. Of course protein diets will help with weight loss. So will smoking. For years women swore by smoking to curb their appetite. Many still do. And while I’m really not trying to compare the two, there is an article which does.

http://www.healthline.com/health-news/food-high-protein-diet-increases-mortality-risk-030414

No, I’m not a vegan, nor do I plan to become one. My palate expresses no desire for bean paste or tofu. I love my chicken, ribs, and steak. BUT, this does not represent my primary or elevated intake. Fish? Forget it for me. I hate fish. However, with the advent and subsequent takeoff of high protein diets being touted, it raises questions. Sure there are other sources of protein; never said there weren’t. But HIGH protein with mitigated or very low carb ratio, can and does have consequences. Many of them numerous, and beyond the scope of what’s discussed in this blog. Need a little more convincing? Ok.

http://www.health24.com/Diet-and-nutrition/Weight-loss/The-dangers-of-high-protein-slimming-diets-20120721

What I’ve always taught, both patients and students is this: Be mindful not just of outcome, but of rationale (the “why” and reason behind an action) Rationale for me, must represent all of the following–cause, relationship, and effect. Yes, these diets will cause you to lose weight. Yes, that is your desired outcome. But what of the other components; relationship and effect?

You be the judge.

The above is a re-post of something I published earlier in the year.  However, I couldn’t think of a more fitting conclusion to this series.  Pulling back the curtain on the latest fad or craze, never gets old.

All for now. Keep up and keep at it.

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

This is getting confusing…a continuation

meat & chopsticks    What to eat.  What not to eat.  When to eat.  You can flip through magazines, look online, and find the be all, end all way to lose weight and/or “become healthy.”  There’s a problem though.  Despite these purported best efforts, few seem to be happy with the results.  Why?  The myriads of reasons and rationales are more numerous than the scope of one post.  But I believe it comes down to this: just as we find clothing labeled “one size fits all,” is mostly nonsense, so are the catch phrase articles touting–eat this, try this, don’t eat that.  Now we know.  But the dilemma remains–what will work for you?

EXPERIMENTATION IS KEY…

First, a simple question.  What does it mean to you to be conscientious?  To be absent or absent-minded?  Consider adding these adjectives to your dining (and perhaps daily) experience.  We’re all familiar with the buzz words “fresh, organic, wild, farm raised…”the list goes on.  Whether they evoke negative or positive connotations to you is of little to no consequence.  Why?  Because we all want fresh food.  We all want to eat better, live longer, and possibly drop a few pounds.  But none of these cleanses, detoxes, or change of habits mean a thing, save the latter.  A change of habit requires a CONSCIENTIOUS DECISION.  Become mindful and not absent-minded regarding how much you put in your mouth.  What does is it like to acknowledge how you feel after a few bites of food?  Are you full?  Not quite?  How much more will it take?  One more fork or spoonful?  Two more?  No more?  Have you ever considered this?  If you’re like most, myself included at one time, you don’t know.  Perhaps its time to find out.

TAKE YOUR TIME..

Discovery and success are two different terms.  Few discoveries yield success after one attempt.  Becoming conscientious will not happen in one, two, or even three attempts.  Better to start somewhere–and if food is an issue, start here.  No diet regime, pill, or exercise routine can reach you, if you persist in absent-minded eating.  What are you eating?  Why are you eating?  Are you really hungry for food..or something else?  No I’m not trying to play psychoanalyst.  Yet questioning why you are doing something doesn’t require a PhD.  It just requires an answer.

 

IS THIS FOR YOU?

Is this a decision for you?  Or someone else?  If it’s being done in the name of a lab value, response to MD orders, or pressure from a loved one, I’ve got some bad news.  And you know what that is.  Conscientious decisions come from your consciousness, not well-meaning advice.  How can you tell the difference?  Sometimes it’s not so easy.  But there’s a sure-fire way to tell.  A true change in consciousness doesn’t just yield results.  It yields a notable change in you.  It will be in the way you respond to many tempting situations–up to and including food.  No, it won’t mean you’ll never have a brownie again, or perhaps two or three.  But it will mean you’ll know when you’ve overindulged.  You won’t become unduly elated or dejected by a number on the scale.  Yet you’ll know how to bring yourself back into balance, if you’re not where you want to be.  Great you may say.  But how do I get there?  Just like anyone interested in making a new discovery–trial and error.  I’ll have more to say on that in subsequent posts.

As you can tell, I’m not interested in re-blogging the latest theoretical jargon–be it try this routine, high protein, low carb, no carb, eat this not that, nonsense.  If you want to live your life by what works for a few, and maybe not you, be my guest.  This is not to say you shouldn’t try new things.  You can only see if it’s a fit, if you try it on.

What I am saying is this:  like that coveted pair of jeans or dress you really want to work for your body, but just doesn’t, leave it.  You don’t need it.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Having trouble navigating what works for you?  We can work on that.  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

 

 

This is getting confusing…a three part series

waterman  I am on a mission.  I’d like straightforward answers to questions regarding food choices, exercise, and  my biggest pet peeve–why we still consider antiquated scales a measure of legitimate progress.

Are any of these on your hit list too?  If you’re at even the remotest point in considering weight loss, they should be.  Since I’m a creature of habit (my own unique ones that is), I’ll start with the last one first.

WANT TO RUIN YOUR DAY?  START HERE..

Start it off by jumping on that old-fashioned scale.  Now I realize there has to be an objective means to your weight loss end.  As a nurse, the words “evidence based practice” are etched in my head.  But evidence can be acquired in a variety of ways.  For me, trying on a top I hadn’t worn since late May, was evidence I’d lost weight. Now mid-August, I don’t recall it feeling this loose.  Does it stretch you may ask?  Not this material.

I’ve also noticed a change in my food choices.  More on that next post.

WEIGHTS & MEASURES..

Now you may believe I am anti-scale.  Not really.  It remains one of the most economical & objective choices to discern progress.  However, before you jump for joy or curse the ground it sits on because of a numeric value, keep this in mind:  Can your scale differentiate between body fat, water weight, or muscle?  If not, why bother?  Don’t waste your time.

Cheaper still?  Invest in a tape measure.  Take your measurements.  Better still let someone else take them.  Loss of inches often precedes loss of weight.  Still evidence based, but often encouraging and less discouraging.

By the way, how are your shoes fitting?  Feet often reflect a loss of weight before your body manifests it.  Also, if you wear a ring consistently, how is it feeling?  The truth is in the digits; and often not those glaring up at you from beneath your feet.

As stated previously, I’m not anti-scale.  Yet I do believe in the right tools for the job.  The right tool here is mandatory.  Saving yourself frustration and heartache, is worth the investment in a scale which differentiates between bone mass, water, muscle, and fat.  At minimum,  it should know what is muscle, what is water, and distinguish these from fat.  Until you can swing this, my mantra is this:  “measure your treasure, because the sole knows.”  Measure your treasure? A loose ring is a telltale sign of weight loss.  So is a declining waistline and hips.  Upper arms and thighs–not so much.  These may actually bulk, depending upon the exercises you perform, before they streamline.  The sole knows?  Again your shoes may be slipping a bit–mine did, particularly in the heel of my shoes as I lost weight.

 

Yes, my profession has little tolerance for all but the facts and objective data.  How that data is collected however, is an entirely different matter; for better or worse.  Nurses realize there is more than one way to get the job done.  And as a nurse and now an American College of Sports Medicine personal trainer, bringing realistic means to an objective end is not only necessary, but my purpose.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

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