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The Power of Patience When Improving the Quality of Your Life


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One word can be a driving forward force or a weight that can hold you back from reaching goals that involve improving the quality of your life.

Patience.

When it comes to patience and improving the quality of our life being patient with ourselves and the process is what the bricks that line the street to our goals are made of. This could be patience in listening to your body after an injury and to adjust, recover and learn from what happened. Or being patient and understanding that losing weight takes time, regaining your mobility takes time, getting stronger takes time, as does regaining your body awareness. None of these happen overnight. Understand that chiseling away at any of these takes time.

If you are working to regain something like strength or balance – understand that it did not erode overnight. That took time. The kind of strength training you were doing was not sufficient or consistent enough. Think about the amount of time it took for your balance to become so challenged that you started noticing it. It was more than a span of weeks or months. That took years. Initially, it may not have even been noticeable. Perhaps as it became apparent it was not addressed.

Think about how over the years bad posture can add up. For example, wearing shoes that are not good for your body (like heels!). Or ignoring a nagging tightness that adds up to some sidelining pain. It has a snowball effect.  I don’t point this out for you to beat yourself over the head about that amount of time.

I instead point this aspect of time to give you a perspective. I understand if you are frustrated and want that goal for your health to be reached tomorrow. Especially in this day and age of instant gratification, instant text messages and especially ads that infer that they can get you quick results you become accustomed to thinking like that. Often this is not the case. If it does happen it can be questionable if that movement improvement is truly sustainable.  Recognize instead the power in doing something about your health and well-being. That empowerment can be exciting and stimulating. This commitment takes work and I see and hear many testimonials from individuals that have come far because of their own work and the help of other people.

Obviously being patient and giving excuses are completely different. For example, being patient while improving your hip mobility does not mean doing mobility exercises every once in a while. Instead, this means being patient with not seeing immediate results when consistently doing the mobility exercises. This patience includes recognizing the small improvements as they add up to big ones. Setbacks are frustrating and they can shatter our patience. You are human and you feel things. After you allow yourself to feel what you feel – while pressing reset and putting the pieces back together, be patient with the rebuilding process. As you put the pieces back together, think about how that setback happened and how you contributed to it.

Finally, Practice patience with your process. You could feel as if you are doing all of the right things and you are not seeing the results that you seek. Nothing can be more frustrating than that feeling. If you feel stuck improving the quality of your life, reach out to allies, fitness professionals and other qualified health professionals who can guide you down the right path to your goals. When you find someone you trust that takes your goals and interests to heart, understand that they see the long-term benefits to seemingly sometimes small choices.

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Maintain or Improve Your Functional Capacity


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Take a moment and take an honest look at your health and ability to move well. This doesn’t just mean being able to lift, shoulder press or leg press an impressive amount of weight. Moving well includes being able to sit down and stand up without having to rock or use the arm rests. This also includes the balance, strength, and power to climb stairs. Even if you may have restrictions because of issues like chronic disease or arthritis you can still strive to improve your quality of life and move well within those restrictions.

Challenge yourself – if you are moving well right now what are you doing to make sure that as you age that does not change? If you are not moving well right now what are you doing to improve your physical ability?

Take a look at the below graphic. It is a simple and straightforward way of thinking about aging well. To explain what a functional capacity means – think about your daily life. Think about those daily activities that you need perform every day. These activities include what you need to do to maintain your health and well-being.  This capacity includes being able to go to the bathroom to pick up an object off the floor.

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I also challenge you to also include the things that you want and like to do. That capacity includes being able to get in and out of a sailing boat, competing in a triathlon or getting on the ground to play with the grandkids. What do you want and like to do? What do you have to improve so you can do those wants and likes easier or with less discomfort?

Maintaining your independence involves having that functional capacity. Maintaining your quality of life involves being able to move how your life demands. Introducing more or different ways of exercising will not only help you physically but also mentally and neurologically. Stay “in the green” and on the right path of a good functional capacity for your life!

 

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What It Means to Listen to Your Body


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You may have heard this many times or read it…

listen to your body.

However there is often very little explaining of what it means and what you should be doing. It really is not that cryptic or ambiguous of a phrase. This is important, so let’s pull down the curtain.

Let’s keep it simple…

Scenario #1

You are walking barefoot on the sidewalk to get the morning paper and didn’t see a shard of glass. Pain happens, possibly some cursing – but it hurt. You stop walking and investigate if you can pull it out or hobble back to the front door & get some tweezers.

You felt pain, stopped and investigated.

Scenario #2

You and a good friend went out for some dinner. On the drive home on the highway you were behind the wheel and your stomach started turning…really turning. There are ten miles to go until your exit but there is a rest stop coming up before then.

You pull off the highway & take that rest stop exit because your stomach was doing somersaults… so make a b-line for the bathroom.

Yes, these scenarios are fairly straightforward – you felt or noticed something going on in your body and you were attentive to what was going on. You did not ignore the pain or uncomfortableness. Instead you were vigilant and decided to do something about it.

Now enter two other scenarios…

Scenario #3

You have been putting down a respectable running regime the last month on the trails. There was no pain or any issues. You are now up to 10 miles twice a week. This week you decide to switch things up and do the same amount of mileage on the pavement instead at the same pace. You find after the second round that halfway through you feel some pain below your knees. The following week instead of the 10 you decide to decrease the road runs to a respectable 6 and then work your way up over time. Also, you sprinkle in some more stretching. Over time that pain subsided and eventually went away.

You backed off on the mileage on the roads and worked your way back up. You also increased the time stretching after runs to target any tight muscles.

Scenario #4

A bagel and a coffee has been your go-to breakfast for a while now. However, you find that by 10:30 a.m. you start dragging and have to grab another coffee to keep on point the rest of the day.  Today you wake up and decide that you are tired of the never-ending battle to stay alert. You begin trying out different things to eat for breakfast and seeing what your energy level is. Soon you found your go-to breakfast that did not leave you wondering why you were always so tired.

You decided to change up your breakfast after you found that crashing before midday was a pattern. After noticing the pattern, you edited & kept on editing you breakfast until you found what would not send you back for another cup of coffee.

You know what it means…now listen!

Honestly if in any of the scenarios someone just ignored what was happening and kept on going – the outcome would not be good. The argument is made often that you can just push through it especially if it is pain related to exercise. I would counter that eventually that pain will come back & will not go away. The solution can be as simple as taking a look at what has changed to make your body react that way. It is one thing if you are uncomforable because of a challenging workout that is targeting those leg muscles during lunges. It is another if you are feeling a sharp pain.

Of course, there may be many things in the mix like stress, muscular imbalances or running form that can be a wild card. Just fight the urge to be stubborn and think that it will just go away (like never addressing tight calves -yes runners I am talking to you!). When it comes to what you put in your body, of course that can be complicated. But again, if you ignore what you are feeling and it is not changing – why not see what you can do about it?

Above all, if you listen and can’t figure out what is going on then talk to a qualified professional that can be your guide. She or he can use their experience, knowledge & objective view of what is going on to assist you. 

Empower yourself to take charge of what is going on with your body. You have a choice – be proactive! You don’t have to do it alone.

 

 

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6 Important Things To Do In A Group Fitness Class


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Some individuals decide to go all in on group fitness classes as their choice of exercise. Others use a group workout as a way to mix things up in between their personal training sessions or their own workouts. However you decide to use group fitness classes to up your exercise game there are some tips on what not to do when you first start…or even if you are a veteran.

 

#1. Show up early.

Especially if this is your first class – get there early to meet the instructor and see what type of equipment that you will be using. Even if you are not able to go into the room because there is a class in session – you can get an idea about the class format, the flow of the class, music and energy level. Also, use this early time to meet the instructor and they will be happy to let you know what is on the menu for that day and show you equipment that you may have not used before. It could be a Silver Sneakers gym or another big setup. Either way you should still get acclimated.  Lastly, getting there early allows you to sign any paperwork that has to be done before your first class.

 

#2.  Let the coach know of any injuries or restrictions that you have.

Before class starts – always let the coach know that you have a sore knee, shoulder issues, some injury or for instance have broken something in the past. This gives the coach an opportunity before the class starts for a quick one-on-one chat about any exercises that you should avoid and what you can do instead.  If you are pregnant let the instructor know and what you can do. Often pregnant women know how to do alternative exercises, even so just let the coach know!

#3. Challenge yourself & give 100% effort.

One of the motivating aspects of a group class is the infectious energy that is in the room. This one of the reasons people love group classes because of a community that keeps each other going. Motivation is great. However comparing yourself to someone else and trying to do what they are doing could end you up injured. Allow them to motivate you to give your 100% effort. Use that!!  If your 100% effort is not matching their effort who cares? The instructor can introduce 1-ups to an exercise to make it more challenging for them. If you can’t do it yet – then use that as your motivation to come back next class and get better.

#4.  Pay attention as the coach demos the exercises.

The class has started and you are ready to kill it and get moving. There will be times during the class where she goes over what you are doing.  This is important. You may know how to do a squat or some other movement but pay attention to how the coach does it. He may have something he is specifically asking the class to do or is giving options that are useful especially if you are finding it challenging – or not challenging enough.

#5.  Ask questions before the class gets started.

If during the demo the coach does or says something that you don’t understand – ask her. If during the workout you want to know how to challenge yourself more without adding weight – ask her during a break. Of course, this is not a personal training session.  The coaches focus will be on the entire group & there are a lot of moving parts for her to juggle. Even with that in mind, questions to clarify how to do an exercise or a progression should be asked!

#5. If you know you will  – or do sweat a lot – bring your towel.

Sweating is a good thing. Sweating on equipment that a person in the class with you uses 30 seconds after you – is not. Don’t expect that the facility that you are checking out has towels. Be proactive!

Untitled design#6. Give out high-fives & fist bumps like they are going out of style.

Get some of that good energy flowing! Many friendships are started in group classes. There is a great community in group classes regardless of the type of workout or fitness level. You all may have different reasons why you are there but you came together to workout!

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Use Your Body – Move It, Test It


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Only if we actually test ourselves or apply something we know do we find out our true capabilities. This rings true when it comes to our own physical fitness. You can run 4 miles with ease, you are good at climbing over things or you ride 10 miles on your bicycle a day. It is obvious to you that you can do it. However, the best way to assess and challenge your fitness level is to seek out a way to put it to the test. Sure there are aesthetic benefits to this, but instead of that you are more focused on what is even more important – results!! Below are some ideas on how to do this.

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Photo Credit – Westend61/Creative RF/Getty

Map a course, plan your own “event” & get a timer

One of the easiest options is to do set out the route, mileage or goal to accomplish. Then set some prescribed goal and go for it! Even if this is the same route that you always do, this time it is different with the timer running. It can be very motivating when something is under timed conditions when usually the goal was just to do it.

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Track your progress

Building upon the 1st idea…Create a simple excel document to make a tracking document. All you really need is the name of activity, date and time. You can add extra columns for notes that you can add after that day like how you were feeling, what you ate before etc. Now you have a bar set after day one of recording your time. Having this on the wall will not only motivate you but you will also soon see patterns in your performance. Perhaps you didn’t sleep well the night before, stretched out the night before or had one too many cocktails the night before. All of those factors and more can affect how you do. Now you can understand more about your own body and learn how to make your weaknesses strengths.

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Competitor Gear Run Guide gives some options

Use the technology & the gadgets

There is technology that allows you can tap into an online community to test yourself. Posting your times on a website will give you the satisfaction, motivate others and make you feel part of the larger community. Wearing gadgets that automatically posts times of your results is another way to enter into fun competitions of one’s physical fitness. The options are quite varied and more come out every day so there are many ways to use technology with yourself or as part of a community.

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Signed up, check, crushed it – check! 🙂

Sign up for a race, train and crush it on race day

Now unplugging from the online community you could show up on race day! Now you have shifted fully into training mode. Now you have your sights set on a particular day. It is time to truly channel that inner athlete and train. Avoid doing that specific movement every session. It is time to challenge the body in ways that can build the foundation around completing the event well. Do your homework on the event – terrain, what the course includes or gear that would make it easier is very relevant to your training.

 

 

 

 

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Six Ways To Weave Exercise Back Into Your Life


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If it has been a while since you have seriously started exercising again it can be tempting to hit the ground running. Figuring out a plan of attack is a better way to set up yourself up for sustainable success. Below are 6 ways to weave exercise back into your life.

  1. Don’t restrict yourself to the stereotypical ways to exercise. Of course – going to the gym, getting a membership, attending fitness group classes etc. are all awesome ways to improve your health and move towards your goals. However, joining an intramural sports group, hiking group, biking to work or getting your hands dirty tending to your garden are all good ideas also. What works for someone else may not work for you, so explore the options in and out of a gym setting.
  1. Look at your week – find the time to schedule your activity. Hold yourself accountable to the times you set aside to exercise. If you are still paying that gym membership and have not gone for months – consider ending it. Use that money in another way that will move you towards your fitness goals. Also – work with the time that you have, then revisit your schedule in a month or so to see how you can make more time.
  1. Find a community. If you don’t already have a buddy or friends that can help welcome you back into the fray…seek some out. If you enjoy posting your workouts online and having others hold your accountable, then give it a shot. Start your own fitness blog & give updates. You will be surprised about how supportive others are & are inspired by your efforts. Offline or online find some sort of community, individual or fitness professional that will cheer you on and hold you accountable at the same time. You are not alone.
  1. Avoid defining yourself by being out of shape etc. Focus on your future of making exercise more a part of your life! You are taking ownership of your health and making an important recognition of its importance. Start making the right choices now. Be patient with your progress, exercise is not one size fits all!
  1. Recognize that exercise is an important piece of the puzzle. Exercise is a substantial move towards a fitter you. At the same time recognize other things that contribute to it like: stress, sleep, what you are eating on a constant basis. As you start getting into your exercise groove start try tracking what you are eating for a week, how much you are getting sleep and what your energy levels were. Turn to qualified individuals if you need guidance on those areas so you can see more gains.
  1. Stop Making Excuses. Until someone comes up with an invention for someone else to exercise and you receive the health benefits…you have to do it yourself! You know yourself better than anybody. If you know you don’t have the energy to workout when you get home after work – then do it in the morning. If you don’t like exercising outside – then get a gym membership and use it. If you work better under pressure – sign up for a race 4 or so months from now. You can do this. Be a fitter version of yourself.

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You got this! Welcome back!

 

-Damien

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Five Reasons To Incorporate Balance Training Into Your Workout


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Balance is more than just standing on one leg. It is important in so many activities that we do daily. Here are just five of numerous reasons why you should spice things up with some balance training when working out.

  1. It improves your joint stabilization. Stabilization is “the ability to maintain or control joint movement or position. Stability is achieved by the coordinating actions of surrounding tissues and the neuromuscular system.” Thus, to break it down you can be able to stay strong and steady when walking up a flight of stairs with a heavy bag of groceries in one hand. Or if playing sports, running etc. and you don’t have a good joint stability you can run the risk of tearing or stretching a ligament.

 

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Having some fun going for a hike up & over this terrain is much more fun when you have some good balance.
  1. We live in an unstable world. Even if you don’t consider yourself athletic – you still balance every day. Getting out of the car, walking up stairs, going for a hike in the wilderness are all instances of balance plays a part in your life. Sure, you may not be walking a tightrope – but better balance means better reaction time or better coordination. For instance – tripping over a crack on the sidewalk and catching yourself takes balance. Thus, you are more aware of where you are in space and can better react with good balance.
  1. It strengthens your core. An example would be a single leg deadlift – even without any weight you are firing off the stabilization muscles in the planted leg. Of course, the rest of the body is attached and you are focusing on staying upright. The muscles around your spine and abdominal area are activated also. Your core is much more than that 6-pack. Keep that core strong so it can support the spine, pelvis and joints. You bend better, you lift better you can shift things away from your body better. Play sports? Compete? You are a more powerful athlete or competitor.
  1. Stronger core =’s better posture. With better posture then it means that the deck is stacked properly. When bad posture creeps in the body is smart – it compensates. But when the body compensates then that is when the chance of injury or tightness will occur. Everything is connected in the body. Just got some new sneakers and noticing that your knees stopped hurting? That is an example of how the shoes affected your posture. Now imagine if it is something inside of you that is not as stable and strong.
  1. Fall Prevention. Yes, this is a risk for individuals when they are getting older. It was noted that in San Diego “one in three older adults (65+) falls each year.” Balance is one of the reasons for these falls. For that reason, it is important to improve and challenge your balance in various exercises. Any age group can benefit from this and it is important to keep on incorporating it as we get older. In addition, those who play sports that are moving in all directions also benefit from this as it substantially improves their athletic performance.

Sprinkle in some balance training into your workout regime. Regardless your age or your athleticism, it is an important component to a stronger, stable, confident and fit you!

-Damien