Aracknophobia

16 08 2014

You may know people with this fear. If you’ve been to a gym where you can’t find the matching pair of dumbbells or you don’t know if someone’s still using the bench, that person probably is aracknophobic. Not to be confused with arachnophobia (spelled with a “k” and not an “h”),  which is the fear of spiders or other arachnids. Aracknophobia (a.k.a, Iracknophobia) is the fear of re-racking your weights after you use them.

I heard this word used by my coworker, Phil, and immediately thought, “by George, he’s got it!” These people aren’t too weak to put away their weights, since they were able to use them. And when I think about laziness, these people are able to get up off their butts and motivate themselves to exercise so intensely that this couldn’t be the cause. But what if these people can lift the weight but just are too scared to put them back? They might fear that the weight might slip out of their hands because their last set was so intense that they have no more energy to lift that weight.

Luckily there is a cure for this phobia and it’s a technique that psychologist and psychiatrists use with their patients when a real phobia is present. They actually have the person expose themselves to the phobia in a controlled setting. So an arachnophobic person may hold a spider in their hand to witness that it will not hurt them, thereby creating a peaceful image in their minds when thinking about spiders in the future. The same should be done for those suffering from aracknophobia. The next time you see someone with this condition, walk up to them sympathetically (gently patting them on the shoulder as if to console a crying child if needed) and let them know that you will help them out. Hand them the weights that they were using and walk them to the proper rack to replace the weights. Then encourage them that no harm has come to them and that they can start re-racking the weights themselves. Together, let’s make our workout areas a safe and stress-free environment, so that our workout time can be spent exercising and not wasted on finding dumbbells.





Mise-en-place

12 08 2014

You never know what you’ll find on NPR when you drive to work in the morning. Today’s segment in Morning Edition was perfect for relating to my own work as well as to my clients goals. (Hear the story by clicking here.) The title of the segment is “For A More Ordered Life, Organize Like A Chef.” It discussed a concept that many chefs adopt known as “mise-en-place” which is French for “put in place.” This is a phrase that they use to keep themselves organized  and focused on the task at hand.

During my work, I’m not only training my clients, but also keeping the members happy, ensuring that the facility is safe and in good working order, communicating with my team, and trouble shooting any problems that may arise. If I’m not adopting the mise-en-place concept, my client will not receive a hundred percent of my focus and will lose out on their paid time with me, which could also prevent them from achieving their workout goals. Therefore, keeping my work organized will allow me to stay focused on the task at hand and not get tied up in too many things at once which would result in a loss in productivity. Another great principle of mise-en-place is “slow down to speed up”. Chef and Owner of Telepan, Bill Telepan, describes this principle: “I always say, ‘Look, I’d rather you take an extra minute or two and slow up service to get it right.’ Because the one minute behind you are now is going to become six minutes behind because we’re going to have to redo the plate.”

An excellent example of how this second principle relates to your fitness goal is to think of a time when you wanted to rush through everything to see results. You go through your workouts quickly expecting to see something all of a sudden or you search to find that easy “pill” that will get you to your goals quicker, only to find yourself back where you were two to three months later. If you take your time to slow down and focus on doing it right the first time, you will reap the rewards of your work when you’re finished. You will also realize that your results stay with you a lot longer and you won’t have to start all over again. In addition to the principle of slowing down to speed up is the prevention of injury if you do things right the first time. Who wants to be laden with an injury, only to find out that you can’t continue exercising towards your goals for another three to six months?

Follow this discipline and you’ll be successful in your fitness goals and in your life. Some chefs go as far as tattooing “mise-en-place” on their body, but I don’t believe you need to go that far. Maybe you can write it in your daily log as a reminder to stay focused on the task at hand. You are keeping a daily log, aren’t you?

Reference:
http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/08/11/338850091/for-a-more-ordered-life-organize-like-a-chef





Catch of the Day

10 08 2014

Fish is a great way to receive  your dietary needs of healthy fats. In addition to Omega-3’s, fish is a great source of protein. Here is an easy recipe I found in “Simple Suppers” by Gina Steer. This was easy to make and it tasted great. One recommendation is to reheat any leftovers in the oven rather than microwave to prevent softening of the pastry border.

Fish Puff Tart – (Cook time: 35 minutes) Fish Puff Tart

Ingredients:
3/4 lb. prepared puff pastry, thawed if frozen
5 oz. fresh cod
5 oz. smoked haddock
1tbsp. pesto sauce
2 tomatoes, sliced
4 oz. goat cheese, sliced
1 large egg, beaten
freshly chopped parsley, to garnish

Prepare:
 1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry into an 8 x 10 in. rectangle.
2. Draw a 7 x 9 in. rectangle in the center of the pastry to form a 1 in. border. (Be careful not to cut through the pastry)
3. Lightly cut crisscross patterns in the border of the pastry with a knife.
4. Place the fish on a chopping board, and with a sharp knife, skin the cod and smoked haddock. Cut into thin slices.
5. Spread the pesto evenly over the bottom of the pastry shell with the back of a spoon.
6. Arrange the fish, tomatoes, and cheese in the pastry shell, and brush the pastry with the beaten egg.
7. Bake the tart in the preheated oven for 20-25 min. until the pastry is well risen, puffed, and golden brown. Garnish with the chopped parsley and serve immediately.

 

Reference:
Steer, G. (2011). Simple Suppers. essential recipes; Flame Tree Publishing. p. 48





Staying Current

10 08 2014

While watering my plants on my patio, I noticed a lot of grit and spiderwebs had accumulated on an old duffle bag that contains a pair of speed skates. Obviously I have not used these skates in a while, and when pausing to remember when the last time I had used them, I realized that it has been over 3 years since I have laced them up. I think a part of me still thinks I’m going to join the Olympics and race like Apollo Ono, hence still holding onto this indispensable item. My wife believes I’m a pack rat and will hold onto any sporting equipment that I acquired since birth which holds some truth when I pull out a ribbon from my junior olympic track and field years. The reality is that I probably will never use them because I will not need to train in that manner anymore. If I want to inline skate, I can use my normal pair of recreational skates that I own and be just fine.

Many of my clients and even those I speak with who ask for fitness advice also believe that they should be exercising the same way that they did ten to twenty years ago. As our life plans change, so should everything else  when it comes to our fitness goals. Think about how much time you have now to commit to your workouts. Can you make the time commitment that you had a year ago? Think about your physical condition. Do you still have the same physically health as you were a year ago? Is your motivation to reach your goal still burning brightly? These are some questions that can change the way you tackle your plan of action. You might have to change the exercises you do because of a current limiting health condition. You may have to think about revising your goal to meet your time challenges.

Those who think they can exercise like they did in the past may be faced with a rude awakening. Exercise with purpose, but train within the current confines of your body. Every day we change a little and we need to notice these changes if we want to succeed in our goals. I have realized that I will never be a speed skate so today, those skates are going to Goodwill.





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?”








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