5 Ways to Train Smarter with Your Smart Phone

26 05 2014

Looking at the past week, I must give credit to my phone for helping me stay on track with my workouts. There have also been other motivators like my wife and friends who have kept me on track. However, when the busy work week comes upon you, the excuse “I have no time to exercise” can be very real. With the help of my smart phone, I was able to keep my workouts and nutrition on track. Since it was able to help me, I wanted to share with you the 5 ways of how just keeping your phone nearby can keep you on track.

1. Use Your Calendar
This app can be very helpful to make sure that you find that time in your busy work life. We all have appointments, so why not make one for your workouts. I also set an alarm for my workouts to remind me that this is as important as my client’s training session.

Keep your own workout appointments!

Keep your own workout appointments!

2. Bring Along The Tunes
The fact that your phone is also your Walkman (anyone even know what those are anymore?) is enough reason to get pumped up and get moving. Everyone should have a go-to playlist or station that gets them revved up for a good walk, run, or lift. Streaming music sites like Pandora, iTunes Music, and Beats Music, allows listeners to choose a genre of music and the station will choose music that falls within that genre. This gives you an endless supply of tunes to keep you going strong. Check out my go-to Playlist below. Plug those earbuds in and start training.

Doug’s Go-To Playlist

  1. “Good Feeling” -Flo Rida
  2. “Timber” -Pitbull (ft. Ke$sha)
  3. “Sweat” -David Guetta & Snoop Dogg
  4. “Numb” -Linkin Park
  5. “Remember The Name” -Fort Minor
  6. “Not Afraid” -Eminem
  7. “I’m a Machine” -David Guetta (ft. Crystal Nicole & Tyrese Gibson
  8. “My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark (Light Em Up)” -Fall Out Boy
  9. “Anxiety” -Black Eyed Peas

3. Track Your Progress
There are a myriad of nutrition apps nowadays out there for free or a small cost. These apps are great because they tell you if you’re getting the correct nutrients to meet your goals. The one that I have found to be useful is “Lose It” by FitNow Co. This app is easy to use and sets calorie recommendations based on your weight goal. I’m not trying to lose weight, the opposite in fact, and this app still keeps me inline with this goal. It allows for me to add in my exercise to calculate if I’m eating enough to see an increase in weight or under and thus my weight will continue to drop. The nice feature of this app is the barcode scanning function which allows you to take the product and scan it to get all the nutritional facts, rather than searching for the food.

Lose It App IMG_0815

4. Take A Video
This is not the time to take a selfie. Taking a look at your form is a good idea when you don’t have a friend or mirror close by. Placing your phone on a bench while you perform squats or a chest press allows you to see what you’re doing right or provides valuable feedback so you don’t wake up the next day with a strained muscle. Even placing it behind you while you’re on the treadmill can show if you’re walking or running gait is off. Professional athletes use video analysis all the time to keep their technique in check and progressing forward. Flip your camera on and use it to improve your results and not your status “likes.”

5. Post It
Telling your friends about your workouts on social media sites is a great way to stay motivated and accountable for your actions. My friend and I have agreed to keep each other motivated by sending each other weekly reminders of our goals. By sending him my progress through text messages and social media sites like FaceBook, I have another way of keeping true to my workouts. Post your goal on your status bar or text it to a friend. Then get them to keep you accountable by asking them to check in with you on a weekly basis. My clients will send me pics of them working out when they’re away to show me that they’ve held up their end of the deal. It’s an easy way to grow your support group and highlight the progress you’ve made.





Dazed and Confused

18 05 2014

I stopped receiving the morning paper last week which made me believe that someone had been swiping my paper before I got to it. My wife pointed out that we live on the second floor, in the corner unit of our condo complex, and the neighbors across from us are not the newspaper type. She also noted that there was no one living next door to us and that the next neighbor was at the other end of the unit. So in order for someone to steal our paper, they’d have to make the effort to tip toe upstairs, make the grab, rush back downstairs and into their unit at 6:30am which would be too much energy for our 65+ neighbors downstairs. In addition, we were sure that they had better things to do than plan an early morning heist. So I checked our account and it turned out my credit card on file had expired and I failed to update the info, resulting in a suspension on my subscription. Makes sense.

I’m glad to know that no one was catching up on yesterday’s news at my expense. I updated my card on file and was happy to see a fresh paper outside my door the next day. Fast forward one day later and I was still glad to find a Sunday paper outside my door. I pulled it out of the plastic bag and was surprised to see the front page main article (only exercise professionals and health nuts would get a kick out of articles like these).

From the Sarasota Herald Tribune

From the Sarasota Herald Tribune

The line that bewildered me was the end of the second sentence in the title (third if you count “Overmedicated?”), “Doctors would like to change that, but where to begin?” Really folks? We’re still confused about the direction we need to take to stay healthy and drug free? Maybe some of these docs are also tapping the drug supply. The article goes on by stating that of the 10 medications that the average 75 years old American is prescribed, a 100 percent chance of an adverse reaction from one of the drugs will be encountered. The average number of adverse effects is four. The result of these reactions only leads to decrease quality of life.

However, we know that daily physical activity has been shown to reduce comorbidity risk factors leading to a reduction in medication use. Regular exercise and gentle stretching exercises such as yoga have been evident in relieving chronic pain in patients. Even the article highlights ways to reduce pain without medication (see picture to right, click picture to enlarge).

From Sarasota Herald Tribune What is similar in all of these remedies?

From Sarasota Herald Tribune
What is similar in all of these remedies?

The article states that 40 percent of adults 65 and older take NSAIDs and 10 percent of them are prescribed an opioid for pain relief. So don’t you think that the first place to start is by letting these patients know that regular moderate exercise 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, infused with gentle stretching for 10 minutes a day, 2-3 days a week can improve many of their conditions. Throw in the statement that the only side effects of physical activity when done properly as prescribed are positive effects such as, improved range of motion, reduced chronic pain, enhanced daily function, and improved quality of life. Let’s also inform patients about this alternative form way before we’re signing the prescription pad for medication number 10. It’s apparent and we must face the truth; exercise is medicine!

References:
Smith, B. (2014, May 18). Overmedicated? Herald Tribune. p. A1, A5
Landmark, T, et al. (2011). Associations between recreational exercise and chronic pain in the general population: Evidence from the HUNT 3 study. Journal of the International Association for the study of Pain. Retrieved on May 18, 2014 from http://www.painjournalonline.com/article/S0304-3959(11)00290-9/abstract





Low T? Not for Mr. T

17 05 2014

Mr.T If you grew up watching Mr. T on television, you might have wondered what the initial “T” stood for. “Tough” always came to my mind. After being plagued by low testosterone medication commercials during the other night trying to watch my show, I thought of Mr. T and his line. Then it clicked that Mr. T should stand for Mr. Testosterone!

Studies have linked obesity  to low testosterone levels in men. This link is a result of the decrease in the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular (HPT) axis pathology which controls testosterone levels. Physicians point out that testosterone supplements shouldn’t be the first line of action since our bodies create the hormone DHEA, which converts to testosterone naturally. Taking testosterone boosting supplements might not be appropriate for this demographics and DHEA supplements don’t really work. Sounds like Mr. T should pity those men. Luckily research shows that proper nutrition and physical activity can elevate testosterone levels. High intensity interval training (HIIT) or heavy strength training is a great way to spike up your testosterone levels. Working up to 85% of your 1RM should be your target. Physicians also state that too much exercise (long bouts of endurance exercise) can drop t levels, so make sure you rest long enough between exercise days for your body to recover.

References

http://www.webmd.com/men/features/can-you-boost-testosterone-naturally?page=2

Metzel, J. (2013) The Exercise Cure. Rodale, New York, NY
Asian Journal of Andrology. 2014 Mar-Apr; 16(2): 223–231. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3955331/





Sweating It Out

26 09 2013

It slowly emanates from deep within my body. It’s caused by my internal temperature rising. I feel the droplets form on my forehead as my arms begin to glisten in the light. I know I’m working hard and sweating is the cause of my efforts. I continue to push on as sweat appears from the pores of my body. I will get through this no matter how much I sweat; fatigue will not get the best of me.

Rep after rep my arms extend and retract as my body stays in a squatted position. “A workout this will be,” I think to myself. Droplets from my forehead beads into my eyes, but I keep working harder. I don’t let a little sweat stop me. In fact, I invite sweat to come. I know that sweating is the mechanism which cools my body and without it, I would overheat and fatigue will have won.

My back begins to signal that it’s getting weaker and I brace my abs to help my core stabilize. “A couple more reps and I can rest,” I reassure myself. This motivates me to work harder. Controlling my pace, I work on my technique to get the benefits of the labor.

I return to thinking of the other benefits of sweating. Like the elimination of harmful toxins and improved skin tone. I know that sweating also is a sign of increased caloric burn. This leads to weight loss, which is not my goal.

Taking my mind off the task made the last few reps bearable and I hunch over to catch my breath. Sweat drips into my eyes and I wipe them away. I slowly raise my body up and reflect on my hard work. The bathtub, now clean, sparkles in the light and I think to myself, “My wife better be happy with this request.”





Take a Stand and Live Longer: Why Sitting Too Much Could Be Life Threatening

15 09 2013

I wanted to start off this article by saying that I wrote this entire piece while standing, but I couldn’t find a countertop that was high enough for my keyboard to reach my fingers. Therefore, to make my point, I will state that this is a great example of how many people in the world are forced to be confined in a seat for most of their day. Despite a recent surge of articles, news broadcasts, and studies over the past few years, people are still sitting more than ever, and as a result, putting their health at risk, and we’re not just talking about obesity.

We are aware that sitting can lead to obesity and cardiovascular problems due to not enough physical activity. Research has also shown a link between prolonged sitting and depression. The research that should get everyone standing up while reading this piece has been in numerous media outlets that have reported on the health problem of too much sitting; NPR, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, CBS,  Runner’s World, and Time. It is clear that being on your rump all day can actually be life threatening. According to a 2012 research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers found that those who spent each day sitting for longer than 11 hours were 40% more likely to die earlier than those who sat less the 4 hours a day. The kicker is that even that hour to the gym seven days a week doesn’t cut it. People just need to get up and move more often.

Many people in today’s technology driven world are behind desks tapping away at a keyboard for 8 to 10 hours a day. When we’re not sitting behind our desk, we’re probably still sitting, but this time it’s in a restaurant, car, couch, or even a bathroom stall. NPR posted a clip with advice on Beating the Cubicle. The take home message is to take a stand, not a seat. Stand up, move more, and free yourself from the dangers of begin glued to the chair. As mentioned before, even those who exercise on a regular basis still need to be more physically active in their daily life. A way to do this is to use a watch instead of a pedometer. Counting the number of steps is great if your goal is to take a certain number of steps in 4 hours. However, we don’t do this because we don’t have 4 hours to allocate all at one once to standing. A good recommendation is to wear a watch that has a stop watch. When you stand up, press the start button and stop it when you sit back down. Don’t reset the watch, but let it continue counting by pressing the start button when you stand again and repeat the process. At the end of the day record the time that you spend standing. You’ll be surprised at how little it may add up and even more shocked when we take that number and subtract it by 24 to see how many hours we actually are sitting/lying down.

I’m not telling anyone that they should start buying treadmill desks, or sleep standing up (Did you know that there is not a Guinness World Record holder for someone standing the longest. However, Suresh Joachim holds the Guinness World Record for standing on one leg. His record is 76 hours and 40 minutes.)  We all need to sit once in a while. There’s nothing wrong with relaxing and kicking up your feet at the end of a long day. The trouble begins when we find ourselves picking up a remote and for the next 4 hours of football, we’re stuck to the couch. Find those little pockets of time to stand and move. I have heard people say that they don’t sleep because they have time for that when they die. I think the same goes for standing. Stand and move now while you still have the chance.

My brother on Mt. Adams

My brother on Mt. Adams, NH





When to Throw In the Towel

7 09 2013

In the movie Rocky IV, Apollo Creed (who, in case you never saw the films, fights Rocky Balboa in the first two Rocky installments ) decides to fight Russia’s newest boxing sensation, Ivan Drago.  During the big match between Apollo and Ivan, both Rocky and Apollo’s trainer, Duke, know that Apollo is taking a beating and the end result won’t be pretty. Duke begs Rocky to throw in the towel to end the fight, but Rocky, honoring his friend’s request to never stop the match, doesn’t toss the towel. In the end, Apollo takes such a beating that the final blow kills him.

This scene is a great analogy of that human potential trifecta for competitors; body, mind, and spirit. Apollo represents our physical body. Going up against all odds, we push our bodies to the limits. We kep going regardless of the puddles of sweat and painful ache to prove that our muscles can take the constant pounding not only in competition, but also in training. Then there’s the brain represented by Duke’s character. The voice of reason telling us that we should begin to back off or even quit because the result of continuing might be detrimental. Every painful step blasts a signal to our nervous system, letting us know that the body can’t take much more. We think about listening to that voice in our head, but then something else speaks louder. We hear Rocky, our spirit, cry out and tell us not to back down. If we dig down deep enough, we can tell ourselves to forget what the mind is telling us and hold off on throwing in the towel. We are then able to push just a little more, never knowing if the result will be success or utter defeat. We always want to imagine that it’d be the first.

You might have recently seen more articles of runners collapsing during a race in your daily paper or on the news. Headlines warning people of the dangers of long distance running. The stats are in, we do have more people involved in competitions and exercise. There are also reported cases of people getting hurt or evening dying from their participation in long distance races. However, a study by John Hopkins University published in 2012 compared the number of marathon participants and mortality rates between the years of 2000 and 2009 and showed no significant increase in mortality rates compared to the increase in entries.  They also indicated that the data that was collected were from media reports. These findings prove that the death toll of marathon runners are not increasing, but more so, the media attention of these occurences has increased. So why did these individuals have a fatal finish? One possible reason could be related back to our start of this article; the training of our physical abilities or lack there of.

Individuals must know to listen to their bodies when training or competing. It’s also important to have a trainer or coach who also understands your ability level and knows how to progress your training safely. People start to get hurt when they take only the Rocky approach and never tune in to their heads. Undertraining for an event can be as detrimental to your body as overtraining. Those who are getting injured in a competition may be a result of being undertrained and underdeveloped to meet the requirements of the challenging requirements. An article that led to the large research from John Hopkins highlighted a man who passed out during a marathon. Days after, he commented that he was not listening to his body. When training and competing, our state of mind changes and we begin to fight through all the adversaries that come in our way. From the sore muscles, to the dire weather conditions, we tell our bodies that we can persevere. Train smarter and compete smarter, by knowing when to call it quits. Your body, mind, and spirit is a perfect triangle balanced on its point. Knock off one side and the other two will fall also. If your body wasn’t prepared for that last mile hill climb, quitting isn’t failing, but deciding to be wise to come back to it when the complete triad is ready.

As we continue to exercise and train to improve ourselves, it is important to know when the time is to throw in that towel.  Progress your training accordingly and train speifical to your goals. Always modify your exercises if necessary to reduce the wear on your bones and joints. Lastly, ask yourself before running that first marathon, “Have I trained enough and if I come to that point where all is failing, will I know when to stop?”





A Journey to Renew My Mind, Body, Spirit

23 08 2013

Looking back at last month, my mind had been preoccupied with work and the realization that I was leaving the country to explore a place unfamiliar to me. The weeks leading up to my trip to Spain was filled with mixed emotions. Questions that plagued my mind at night included, what should I bring, how will I navigate with only my wife versed in the language, what neat and amazing things will we experience, and how will I keep up with my exercises. I had been so busy with my work that when the month prior to leaving snuck up on me, I was flabbergasted by how quick two years had gone by since my wife and I had started talking about taking this trip. Although, I hadn’t a clue where I was going (I left it up to my wife to choose the itinerary for the whole trip) and I didn’t know what to expect, I knew that I was going to take some time to renew my mind, body, and spirit.

New Day in Madrid

Landing into Madrid, Spain as the sun rose from behind the mountains.

The trip began with the appreciation of  how quickly the human mind can adapt. Typically, I am a person who needs to know enough about my surroundings to feel competent and confident so I can interact with people.  I’m an extravert and human interaction is necessary. This journey took my out of that comfort zone and thew me into the great unknown. I was a man in a large country that spoke a language that was not familiar to me. Renew my mind might be the incorrect choice of words; more like enlighten my mind. My brain became a sponge and I soaked up as much of the language as I could possible retain in one sitting. My appreciation for the history and culture of the land and people was overwhelming. I became obsessed with the history and culture of the little towns and provinces that my wife and I visited. Each day we would explore a new area of the country and spend hours taking in the beauty and magnitude of our natural surroundings. I would work on the language everywhere we went and slowly was able to speak to someone patient residents. We learned why the villages were erected in specific ways, how the locals ate, and how the landscape had changed over time. We also experienced first hand the slow pace of life when the only form of transportation were your very own two legs.

At the top of Picos de Europa with a mountain goat.

At the top of Picos de Europa with a mountain goat.

The time spent walking and carrying my hiking pack gave me all the exercise I needed for the time I was gone. My body felt well worked by the end of the trip. The people in Spain normally take a siesta during the middle of the day. I don’t know why my wife and I didn’t follow suit, but by the time midnight came around and all the people of Spain came pouring out of their homes and restaurants for their “happy hour,” my wife and I were nicely tucked under our covers in our nice cozy beds. The feeling of fatigue doesn’t usually hit your muscles all at once. No, it enjoys creeping up slowly, toying with your body as to say, “you never know when I’ll put a stop to all your movement.” That came around lunch time one afternoon in Segovia after we had walked all over the village and seen the Alcazar, our bodies had started to let us know that we needed to rest and replenish our nutrients. We happily gave in to this respite at a mom and pop restaurant where I learned more Spanish because the hosts could not speak English and we were able to get all the nutrients that we needed for the next long trek on our journey. Traveling on foot gave us great pleasure in seeing the sites that would have been missed by taking a car or public transportation. (Traveler’s note: If you ever go to Spain, keep hydrated. The dry air and changes in altitude can be deceiving to your perception of thirst.  Plan on buying all your water or bring a couple of water bottles, as we did, and fill them up at the local watering holes.)

Wife getting water at a water hole on the outskirts of the village in Segovia.

My wife testing out a water hole on the outskirts of the village in Segovia.

Many of our stops along the way brought us to magnificent churches, cathedrals, and basilicas. The history of each one and the famous artists who helped create these masterpieces entranced my spirit and gave me much appreciation of life’s great gifts.  The architecture and structures found inside and out were amazing. The commitment found throughout these structures exemplified that nothing spectacular can ever be done quickly. Success is only possible, when one has a plan, support, dedication, and time. In the end, I was blown away by the sheer beauty and awe of everything that I saw, experienced, and learned.

Catedral de Santa María de Regla de León

Catedral de Santa María de Regla de León

As I reflect on the trip, I also reflect on the lessons that were gained from all that I had seen. We as individuals need to step back and take in all the accomplishments that we have made in our lives. Too often we are pushed to get things done as quickly as possible. We are becoming a society where instantaneous gratification is more favorable than the long haul even if the latter is stated to be healthier.  This journey made me realize the importance of taking my time and enjoying life’s every moment. By the end of the trip, I was able to come back to my life’s routine with a refreshed perspective on what I want to achieve and how it will look getting there. Remember that a journey is defined as the act of traveling from one place to another. Don’t lose sight of the end, and always keep your eyes open on the journey.








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