Archive for January, 2012

Learning Never Ends

After attending countless continuing education workshops, fitness symposiums, and various trainings, I still have a thirst for knowledge.  I began my career in the fitness world twelve years ago, but the learning started well before that and will continue each and every day from here on out.  The interest in human movement and biomechanics all started from the time I was three years old and started playing t-ball.  Today I completed a 16 hour training on Kettle Bells.  In order for me to succeed, both for my clients and myself, I must continue to learn.  Reading books, picking my co-workers brains, asking questions, writing blogs, watching videos; these are all sources of my continuing education.

replica of my first softball jersey

I am eager to learn more.  Some say we never learn anything new, we just learn more about what we already know.  In order for us to grow as people, whether in our professional careers or personal lives, we must learn.  Learn more about ourselves.  Learn more about those we interact with.  Learn more about the choices we make.  You can be in sales, management, healthcare, childcare, education, finance, it doesn’t matter.  You can be a mother, father, sister, friend, companion, it doesn’t matter.  There is always room to learn more.

Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still. ~Chinese Proverb

be well-

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Under, Over or Just Right?

A friend of mine recently posted on her Facebook saying she was looking at getting a new Garmin and wanted feedback as to whether or not she should get the one with a heart rate monitor.  It was interesting to see the variety of answers and their reasonings.  The majority of people said no, just get the one that tracks distance.  I’m happy to say she went against popular belief and chose to get the heart rate monitor.

I strongly feel the best way to improving and seeing results is to train at the right intensity.  Getting the most out of your training doesn’t always mean going harder and/or faster.  Using a HRM allows you to see if you are under, over, or at the right intensity.  Depending where you are in a training program dictates your intensity level, no matter if you are just beginning a wellness plan or training for an Ironman.  Someone that is looking to maximize performance verse improve fitness verse lose weight will all train at different intensity levels.  An example of this is shown below for someone my age:

Statistics show that over seventy percent of the people who start an exercise program will quit within the first six months – and many within the first few weeks.  What makes it so hard for individuals to stick with an exercise program?  Why do they give up so quickly?  One of the primary factors affecting adherence to exercise is a loss of motivation.

Most people start an exercise program with a specific goal or need in mind that becomes the driving force or motivation behind their desire to exercise. However, many individuals run into common obstacles that cause them to lose sight of these goals and begin to lose their motivation to keep going.

Fortunately, a heart rate monitor can provide the solution to many of the obstacles that stand in the way of success in an exercise program.  If you want to reach your exercise goals, it’s important to stay in your target heart rate zone during workouts. A heart rate monitor is your constant reminder of the intensity and quality of each workout session.  Nothing keeps you in your zone more accurately than a HRM.

Wearing a heart rate monitor has literally saved my life.  Even though my physical body says I can push harder and longer, my watch is screaming at me once I hit 195 while jogging at a ten minute mile pace.  Exercising too hard can put you at risk for injury.  A heart rate monitor reminds you of the safe and effective heart rate intensity in which you should exercise and warns you when you leave that safety zone.

There are many bells and whistles that come with monitors.  Make sure to do your research, both with companies and features to decide what is best for you.  And if you need any advice, I am more than happy to help.

be well-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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stand Tall, shoulders Back

During yoga class I often talk about the imbalances our physical body has.  Very few of us are symmetrical from left to right, top to bottom and front to back when it comes to posture, strength, flexibility, mobility and stability.  These imbalances are caused by a variety of factors such as repetitive motion like swinging a golf club, always wearing your handbag over the same shoulder, carrying a child on your hip.  They are also caused from injury, muscle tightness, difference in limb length, our every day movement.

Over the past few weeks I have been hindered by some neck and shoulder aches/pains.  So I decided to seek out help.  Some of the treatment I endured was deep tissue release using the Graston technique, a little bit of electronic stim with warm packs and neck adjustments.  In addition, I purchased a new pillow, with much more support, to sleep on.

While in the office for one visit, the DC did a postural analysis on me.  I stood against the wall and he took a frontal and profile picture.  They are below.  The green line represents proper posture.  The red line represents where I am.

Posture Viewed from the Front

• Head is shifted 0.17″ left, and is not tilted.

• Shoulders are shifted 0.41″ left, and are not tilted.

• Ribcage is shifted 0.17″ left.

• Hips are shifted 0.83″ left, and are not tilted.

 

 

 

Posture Viewed from the Side

• Your head weighs approximately 11.3 lb and is shifted 1.82″ forward.

•  Based on physics, your head now effectively weighs 31.9 lb instead of 11.3 lb.

• Shoulders are shifted 0.17″ forward.

• Hips are shifted 1.00″ forward.

• Knees are shifted 0.83″ forward.

 

 

I have always known that my posture needs improved, but until it was visually pointed out, I had no idea it was this extreme.  As someone who does not sit at a desk in front of a computer or in a car for long hours, I can only imagine how much worse it could be.  The good news is there is hope.  I can help bring myself back into balance.  Just by being aware of my posture while sitting at the desk, driving the car or how I stand are little movements that will pull everything back together.  Doing small chin tucks will help strengthen my neck muscles so my ears begin to align over my shoulders.  Strengthening the pelvic wall will help decrease the anterior pelvic tilt.

As I work with clients that have extreme imbalances, it is important I also work on my own.  I suggest that if you have the ability to have a postural analysis done, whether by your PCP, a chiropractor, or at your local health club, do.  The visual picture will be much more eye-opening than words coming out of their mouth.

In the few minutes that I wrote this piece, I completed two sets of chin tucks, avoided leaning forward toward the computer and was able to sit nice and tall with my shoulders back.  Hopefully these small changes will have large benefits sooner than later.

be well-

 

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Beyond the yoga Mat

Over the weekend, the New York Times reported a story about the injuries that occur during yoga and how it can be harmful.  And apparently tonight, the evening news will share a similar story.  Yes, it is true, injury is possible while practicing yoga.  But keep in mind, it extends well beyond the mat.

Crossfit, Zumba classes, recreational sports, and working one on one with a personal trainer have been known to push someone beyond their limits.  A friend recently stepped off the curb and broke both bones her lower leg.  Another injured her shoulder from lifting too heavy of a box over her head.  Pro athletes that have injuries day in and day out.  Anytime our bodies are in motion, there is always a risk of going too far.  This is especially true when we lose concentration, and become unaware of how and why our bodies are moving.

Learning to listen to our bodies and accepting what it needs verse what it wants is very important.  There is a fine line between taking our bodies far enough and taking it too far.  This morning I took a yoga class, the first since trying to recover from neck and shoulder issues that happened over a week ago.  I made sure to let the instructor know what was going on so that if I were making my own modifications, she would understand why.  As I flowed through class, there were poses I attempted and back away from if it did not feel right.  Other poses I avoided completely, knowing that I would do more harm than good.

What is your intention?  Whether you are in a yoga class, playing sports, or walking down the street, I encourage you to think about how you move and why.

be well-

 

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Counting Sheep

“… Sufficient sleep is not a luxury—it is a necessity—and should be thought of as a vital sign of good health.”

Wayne H. Giles, MD, MS, Director,
Division of Adult and Community Health,
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

The inspiration for today’s post is the lack of quality sleep I have had over past few weeks.  My sleeping patterns inconsistent.  I sleep extremely hard for 60-90 minutes or so, wake up as if I had slept ten hours and then find it difficult to fall back asleep.  In addition, my sleeping posture is poor and is evident as I wake with a kink in my neck.  These two things led me to do some research on the world-wide web.

Insomnia is the most common sleep complaint among Americans. It can be either acute, lasting one to several nights, or chronic, even lasting months to years. When insomnia persists for longer than a month, it is considered chronic. According to the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health, about 30-40% of adults say they have some symptoms of insomnia within a given year, and about 10-15 percent of adults say they have chronic insomnia. People who have trouble sleeping every night without exception for months or years are fairly rare. More often, people experience chronic-intermittent insomnia, which means difficulty sleeping for a few nights, followed by a few nights of adequate sleep before the problem returns.

Pillows are an essential aspect in getting a good night’s sleep, but only if the pillow is compatible to the sleeper’s physiology. Everyone sleeps in a position to maximize personal comfort, but if the pillow doesn’t suit that type of posture or does not support the weight of the body, it can lead to neck or back pain, insomnia or a headache upon waking.  I have a feeling this may be contributing to my problem.

As a nation, the United States appears to be becoming more and more sleep deprived. And it may be our busy lifestyle that keeps us from napping. While naps do not necessarily make up for inadequate or poor quality nighttime sleep, a short nap of 20-30 minutes can help to improve mood, alertness and performance. Nappers are in good company: Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Napoleon, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and George W. Bush are known to have valued an afternoon nap.

The following are a few tips to help increase the quality of your sleep:

  • Maintain a regular bed and wake time schedule, including weekends.
  • Establish a regular routine that helps to relax the mind and body such as taking a hot bath or reading a book before going to sleep.
  • Create a sleep-conducive enviroment that is dark, cool and comfortable.
  • Leave work, television, computers, food and drink outside of the bedroom. 
  • Complete your exercise/workout a few hours before bedtime.
  • Finish eating 2-3 hours before going to sleep. 
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine close to bedtime.

If you have trouble sleeping, use a sleep diary and talk to your doctor. Note what type of sleep problem is affecting your sleep or if you are sleepy when you wish to be awake and alert. Try these tips and record your sleep and sleep-related activities in a sleep diary. If problems continue, discuss the sleep diary with your doctor. There may be an underlying cause and you will want to be properly diagnosed. Your doctor will help treat the problem or may refer you to a sleep specialist.

 

be well-

 

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Sound-bite of the Year

A few days ago I reconnected with a dear friend of mine who I worked with while living in DC.  As she lives in a third world country for much of the year, social media has been our main source of communication.  So it was great to speak with her via phone while she’s in the States for a short period of time.  While catching up you could feel the enthusiasm we each had for what we do.

Her mission statement: Delírio™ is a dance fitness program designed to appeal to people from diverse cultural backgrounds and to provide for success regardless of age, talent or fitness level while using Latin and African dance as vehicles by which to encourage cross-cultural dialogue and  to challenge social barriers.  

Fitness inspired by and raising awareness of community.

Delírio™– 

Not a fad… a philosophy.

I have the opportunity to help change the way people move and think.  It is about enhancing their lives, and changing how the culture views health, wellness and fitness.  This platform allows me to work as a trainer, yoga instructor, educator, and writer.  I continue to be inspired by those I work with every day. One client said “They’re not my goals, they’re our goals. If I don’t give you 100%, then you won’t either.” Or the yoga student that approached me and said “Thank You. When you place your hand on my back in child’s pose, that is often the only human touch I have all week”.  This made my heart melt for more than one reason.

During our conversation, at one point I said, “If you don’t love what you do, then what are you doing?”  Her response, “That is the sound-bite of the year, put that on Facebook.”

I have a feeling that 2012 is going to be a great year.  Loving what I do plays a big role with that.  If you are looking to create change and need a nudge or little help along the way, PLEASE let me know.  I would love to help you!

For more information on Delirio: http://www.lauriepillow.com/delirio/Welcome/Welcome.html

or for a sample video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzQH5IdXIIw

be well-

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