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

healthy living waterfall Most of us have heard the expression “it takes a village.”  However, it is most often used in conjunction with child rearing.  A parent myself, I tend to agree.

Yet it is applicable in many instances; diet and exercise not withstanding.

Those who follow my blog realize I write “What’s in my toolbox?” posts.  These are exercises I find helpful to keep excess weight at bay.  Again, regular readers know I believe it takes a village.

Before I reiterate my regimen, I want to call your attention to this.  “How you can benefit from combination Mind/Body, Agility, Strength, and High Intensity Interval Training.”  This worthwhile article can be found at http://fitness.mercola.com.

I’ve always believed differential thinking yields differential results. The above article highlights just that.  In nursing, it is called “evidence based practice.”  So what’s the evidence here?  You be the judge.

If your weight loss is stalling, or has stalled, perhaps your body is saying “change things up a bit.”  I find 2-3 days of running/or a high intensity workout like INSANITY gives me results.  However, it is counterbalanced with 2-3 days of parts of BALLET BOOTCAMP, or M.H. Bowers BALLET BEAUTIFUL.  The leg exercises in the Bower’s dvd, rival the intensity (in a different way of course) of INSANITY or any HIIT workout.  Don’t let the short vignettes fool you.  You’ll never feel so accomplished, or relieved, when 15 minutes comes to an end.  If you are looking to challenge your posture, not to mention every muscle in your body, BALLET BOOTCAMP Center Barre segment fits the bill.  Yes, there is a little choreography; but it is performed slowly.  The segments following however, labeled “Phrases,” are for those who possess a ballet background–at least from my perspective.  But they’re fun to try.

If intermittent stiffness is your issue (I can sympathize), hot yoga may be helpful.  It can help relieve tight muscles, as well as utilize those you may not know you had.  No hot yoga near you?  No problem.  Invest in a yoga dvd of your choice, or select one from the myriads on You-Tube.  Turn your thermostat up to about 90 or 95–and go at it.  Most yoga practices are about 45 minutes to an hour; so it shouldn’t overburden your heating bill.

In the quest to lose or maintain weight, remember this:  plateaus are multi-focal.  They are not simply nutritional or exertional.  It is your body’s attempt to regain composure, after all you are put it through with diet and exercise.  That doesn’t mean plateaus cannot be overcome; they can.  Knowing what to do, when to do it, and how can help.  Nothing though, substitutes for a well-trained ear attuned to what your body is saying.  This “listening ear,” like many endeavors, takes time to cultivate.  Once you do however, you will find it is well worth the time spent.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

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

yoga female on top

We are all searching-perhaps desperately–for the next big thing; especially when it comes to battling the bulge.

From personal experience, I can relay what has worked for me.  However, I’m also interested in what has worked for my readers.

What has worked for me?  Primarily, changing my mind about what being fit really means; but more on that under a different entry.

Changing my exercise routine throughout the week

I’ve always enjoyed running.  After the birth of my son, I was looking for a way to lose the “baby weight,” and then some.  My husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas that year.  He was certain I would ask for jewelry, or a memento commemorating our son’s birth.  I did just that–the memento I wanted was a treadmill.

Running became my obsession.  It was the only exercise I took seriously.  Working a busy day shift in PACU (recovery room day surgery), I would get up and run 4-6 miles prior to heading to work.  However, I quickly found unless I was upping my mileage weekly, the weight loss slowed.  Eventually it stopped.  I started to GAIN weight, even though I was running consistently.  I became discouraged.  I soon realized a change in attitude, as well as routine was required.

For me, change came in the form of DVDs.   It also came in the form of beginning hot yoga classes.

So what do I do now?  I incorporate yoga, running, and my favorite DVD into my week.  Running may mean the treadmill or trail.  I realize to running purists the treadmill is anathema.  However, the treadmill is what started me on the road to relieving stress, initiating weight loss, and quieting my nerves after a hectic day.  Running–treadmill or trail–remains to this day, my preferred method of exercise.

DVDs can be a great way to change-up your routine.  I recommend to clients to select one form of a home workout; one that can be performed in under an hour.  This means excuses become void about having time for the gym.  My preference for my clients (after a thorough assessment and MD visit) is to select a DVD one to two levels above their current fitness level.  It may mean taking breaks during the routine; and I encourage them to do so.  Then, get right back at it.  Eventually, you will find you are working into it, instead of growing out of it.  Yet you should expect to grow out of it–if you are faithful to that part of your exercise routine.

Yoga appears to be the new darling of the fitness world.  However, HOT yoga definitely kicks things up a notch.  Room temperature can vary anywhere between 98-105F.  In a crowded room, expect it to be even hotter.  Hydration before, during, and after is key to this workout.  Know this is not for everyone.  Those with heat intolerance, the elderly, certain cardiac issues, or those with problems staying hydrated because of medications, may find this is not for them.  As with any workout, this is a discussion to have with your MD first.

What has not worked for me? What wouldn’t I recommend?  Check out my next entry under FITNESS.  In the meantime, WHAT HAS WORKED FOR YOU?  Let me know.

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