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    Stand Up, Sit Down Desks

    We love to go through phases in our society. Some are wonderful like health clubs (0k, maybe I am a little biased).  Others fall into, what were we thinking, like MBT shoes ( I am wondering if five fingers won’t be far behind). Lately I have been approached from several different clients and interior architects about stand up, sit down desks, and are they really worth it. The answer is a resounding yes!

    Studies are finding that sitting is pretty much the most horrible thing you can do to  your body on a daily basis. On the opposite side of the coin, standing for prolonged periods after not doing it very much (like from the time you are 5) is almost as bad. The Washington Post did a wonderful article on sitting, so I won’t repeat. In fact if you look at the exercises at the bottom, all you wonderful clients will recognize each and every one of them. So now that we have established that sitting is killing you or at the very least going to make your golden years not so golden, what do we do? We HAVE to sit at our desk for hours at time in order to do our work. Do you?

    In comes all the ergonomic chairs, this is going to fix that for you. You can now sit for hours with no problem. Unfortunately they did not. Nor did sitting on stability balls, because it is the sitting that is more of the problem, than what you sit on. For those detailed oriented people, yes, it is much more complicated than that simple statement, and I am happy to discuss it with you if call me. What does fix it?

    Stand up, sit down desks, are the answer. Mostly because our offices are not set up to give workers breaks so they can walk around the building every hour for about 5 minutes. But the desks can be easily moved from a sitting position to a standing one fairly quickly and it can be done every hour or so for maximum benefit. There are stools that can be used to alleviate low back strain while standing. The power of  standing more on our body is immeasurable, your heart gets a better workout, your back and core have to work, and your nervous system has work more. The big kicker is to sit down and stand up frequently (movement) so you are not in one or the other for too long. Even if you have a high counter in the office to take work to is better than sitting.

    Bottom line, move at the office, stand at the office as much as you can. It might save you a back operation and lots of pain. If you have back pain now, consider taking our Back Stabilization Class. It covers exercises that increases core stability to reduce nagging back pain and reduce instances of flare ups.

     

    You Brush Your Teeth Everyday

    Yes, we brush our teeth everyday and why? Because we don’t want to lose them or maybe worse yet have to get work done on them. My jury is out on which is worse. Where am I going with this? Most of us don’t exercise everyday. We know we should, yet there are so many other obligations that fill our time and we just can’t get to it. Some obligations are non negotiable, like work, we kinda have to go to work. Family, we don’t have to take care of our family, but it is probably a good idea and it does have a great reward. Friends, well they make our life special, so I am going to put it in the non negotiable category. So after all those obligations, the question remains, why do we substitute other less important tasks, like Facebook and reality tv (you can fill in the blank with your own time drain) in place of our health?

    I think the biggest reason is because not like our teeth, most health problems can be fixed without too much pain. Blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes type 2, can all be controlled with a pill. Takes seconds to pop a pill, it is easier. Exercise will also improve all these conditions and others, but it takes longer. We need to start putting it in the non-negotialble category. It needs to be just like brushing our teeth, a daily habit done without thinking (well, at least I hope everyone brushes their teeth everyday without thinking).

    Our society has set these expectations that exercise has to a set duration, 30 minutes + a day, you must do something extreme, P90X or Crossfit, in order to get results. This is just not so, it may take a little more time to loose the weight, but studies show that moderate walking, housecleaning (with vigor), and small increments of exercise can substantially reduce blood pressure, decrease the need for diabetes medication etc. If that is not enough, it improves sleep and mood. You can even break up the bouts of activity, 10 times 3 does equal 30.

    Challenge yourself to add just 5 minutes a day for one week, thats it, 5 minutes. Get up 5 minutes earlier, even I can do that, and get it done. See how you are feeling about yourself after one week, I guarantee you will feel better, if not for just getting a goal accomplished.

     

    Enjoy!

    Thanksgiving May Not Be That Bad & Find Out How to Off Set the Holiday Weight Gain

    We all love Thanksgiving right? The day we gather around with nothing else to focus on but eating and being with our loved ones (at least I hope that is what you are doing). Every year we allow ourselves this one day to pig out, with every intention to exercise it all off afterwards. Yet few of us actually go out and work out more in order to get rid of those excess calories we ingested the day(s) before. In fact we tend to continue to go out to holiday parties and eat more than usual, because, well, it’s the holidays.

    So how do you offset this downward spiral during the season? Fist take heart, if you are a daily exerciser, Thanksgiving will not put all those pounds on you no matter what. Yes, you read that correctly, for those wonderful people that work out on a regular basis, studies show that an occasional horrible bad day will not put the pounds on you. That does not mean you can go out and indulge once a week, it is more like once in a blue moon (you know I have actually never seen one of these… orange yes, really yellow and white, but no blue). To read the study go to New York Times article.

    Now the excuse of “I dropped off the bandwagon, I am just going to party until New Years” is off the table. Here are some tips to keep the pounds at bay. I am sure none of these are earth shatteringly new, but it is good to revisit them and put them in your tool box to survive the holidays.

    • Don’t save your calories and go to parties on an empty stomach, it makes you eat twice as much. Instead have a hand full of almonds or protein rich snack before, then eat what you want. It will cut down on the total you consume without you missing out on your favorite treats.
    • Keep alcohol to a minimum, it may seem like a good idea to drink till you are merry, but studies show the next day you eat very very fatty foods to get your system back in the swing of things. Can you say French Fries and burgers anyone?
    • If you are going to two holiday parties in one week, pick the one with the best food, allow yourself within reason to eat what you want. Limit the other one. If you are invited to three or more, lucky popular you, but you are going to get fat…just kidding. Eat moderately at each one, pick one item to eat that you love and limit the others.
    • Move away from the food buffet as soon as you have taken your food. Socialize while you eat, and if you are still hungry then go back for more, pacing yourself is a great way to keep the total caloric load down. Same with alcohol, have one drink then alternate with a non alcoholic drink, another option, finish one glass then wait 20-30 minutes before the next one.
    • Limit the amounts of fattening foods and sweets you buy for your household. Ten to one you will be getting enough of those foods while shopping and at holiday parties.
    • Most important of all!!!!!! Don’t stop exercising and getting good sleep. Exercise is the best defense to keep the pounds at bay. Sleep is the next, you cannot recover and have the stamina to keep up with all the holiday demands without good sleep. So when the nights allow, go to bed even earlier so you can keep those pesky hormones that make you crave crap under control.

    Of course you can throw all this great advice away and do whatever you want, perfect! Call us in the New Year at 301-275-3579, we personal trainers here at Life Energy Fitness, will be happy to get you back on track with your New Years resolutions. In fact, our first Health Happy Hour is on that very subject, nationally known speaker and nutritionist Kay Loughrey will be presenting her 3-5-2 formula on January 17th. Sign up for the Newsletter to get all the information or call.

    Why You Should Use a Nutritionist

    Many people think Nutritionists are a waste of time, and having experienced some I might agree with them. However, ask yourself this, do you feel good. What do I mean by feeling good?

    • Do you go through the day without highs, lows, reaching for a cup of coffee, 5 hour energy, or pick your particular poison to get your system up and running.
    • Do you fall asleep easily? No help from either medication, supplements or my favorite wine/alcohol?
    • Do you got through the day with lots of energy and no issues with your joints?
    • Do you you wake up refreshed and ready to start the day?

    If you answered yes to all of the above  questions, congratulations! You are in the small percentage of people who are doing things right for your body, you do not need to read anymore. For you others –

    What does a Nutritionist do exactly? They help with all of the above. You say; I can get that out of a book,  my trainer tells me what to eat, or some expert on TV has all the answers on the latest greatest diet. My answer to that is does that particular person/knowledge base, know your biochemical make up? Have they taken down what you are eating right now, how it is affecting you; your health history? If not, then how do you know this is the right food intake for you?

    The most wondrous things Nutritionists (at least the good ones) do is find good food choices for you that you can actually tolerate eating. I am a very picky eater, have been since the day I was born. I think salad is horrible, I do eat it because my digestive system absolutely cannot function without it. I think there are two fruits, cantaloupe and bananas, and veggies should be considered a side condiment. So every time I tried a diet, it never lasted, my stomach hated it, and I could feel sick. Who in their right mind would stick to something that makes them feel tired and sick, no one! Me least of all. Yet, I have a condition that gets very irritated when I eat what I really love, Jerry’s Chicken Philly, Cheeseburgers, and french fries, onion rings. Needless to say not great things to eat if you intestines do not operate correctly.

    After searching high and low, I found a Nutritionist on recommendation from one of my clients, and to my astonishment she came up with not only a diet I could live with, I actually got off some of my medication, lost weight, and felt better. Yes, the cost for a really good one can be prohibitive, however, how much have you spent on supplements, visits to the doctor, medications, etc. Food is medicine, we have to start to look at it in that vein, we are what we eat, no two ways about it. Eating right can help stave off a lot of uncomfortable aging issues like Alzheimer’s, Macular Degeneration, general inflammation, and Osteoporosis. Its all about feeling good and happy endings.

    Where do you find a good nutritionist? Well, you can attend the next Healthy Happy Hour on November 15th, 5:30-6:30pm at  our Life Energy Studio, or give me a call 301.275.3579, e-mail Info@life-energy-fitness.com  I have several that are spectacular.

    Why We Have To Do It Everyday!

    Now that sounds like a loaded statement. Whatever can I mean? This is something like the magic pill…not quite as effective for the overall fix it, but something lots of people ignore. We tend to put it off, find other much more important things, life Facebook to spend our time on. Yet, this like sleep can pack a whole lot results from very little effort. Let’s list the benefits:

    • less aches and pains
    • better sleep
    • improved movement and if you are a weekend warrior can keep you on that field longer
    • improves recovery time
    • prevents injury
    • improves your ability to do the things you want to
    • decreases need for NSAIDS
    • improves balance

    Now what can do all that and take about 15 minutes a day?

    About 5-10 exercises done everyday!

    Yes, you read that correct, doing a small routine of 5-10 exercises that are specific to your needs and doing them everyday will get you all of the above. Up front it might take some time to get the routine right, I suggest hiring a Personal Trainer and or working with a Physical Therapist to come up with the proper exercises/stretches that are right for you. (see my article on What to Look for in a Personal Trainer).

    Now comes the part where most people I meet say,” you  know, I just can’t find the time”. I know how hard it is to add something to your day that is already full of obligations. Ask yourself these questions:

    • Have I recently gained weight because I am slowing down due to a nagging injury that won’t get better?
    • Do I have the same zip in the morning? Am I getting up later and later or have to drink more coffee to get going?
    • Am I stiffer after sitting for a long time?
    • Is getting out of chair, going up and down stairs, or getting up off the floor more difficult?
    • Do you wake up in the night with the need to switch positions because your joints don’t feel right?
    • Would you like to improve your cognitive function?
    • Am I slowing down when I participate in my favorite sport because things just get cranky?

    Isn’t improving these aspects of your life worth some time? As we age, things don’t bounce back as well as they used to. We add the fact we don’t get a good nights sleep and then depend on 5 hour energy drinks or caffeine to get us through the day, it really depletes our muscles and ability to recover. Now add on the fact we spend 4-6 hours a day between our electronic devices and media (TV, movies on demand, reality programs), we are more stagnant than ever. Our muscles, tendons, ligaments even our brains rely on movement to get the cobwebs out, so when we sit for long periods of time in poor posture, it results in the body becoming stuck. It only makes sense, if you sit in a bad posture for hours everyday, then you would have to do something every day to counteract it. The good news is a little goes a long way!

    Make the commitment to yourself, you can do 15 minutes everyday. If you need help with a program, exercises we here at Life Energy Fitness are happy to help. It is what we do!

    Minimalist Shoes, The Good - The Bad and of course the Ugly

    Minimalist shoes are the rage now, does anyone remember the MBT’s?  By all the rage, means we are now seeing these shoes more and more. Mostly worn in gyms, and for running, they are supposed to mimic barefoot movement. Which in turn should make our gait more biomechanical, therefore leading to less compensation while reducing the stress on joints. Studies did show improvement in gait, loading and unloading while running, and an overall improvement in balance. The GOOD!

    All the studies mentioned above were on runners. Runners are a breed apart, that is if they make it past the overuse injury stage (I unfortunately did not). Let’s just say long distance runners do not have the same biomechanics considerations the rest of the population does. People that have trouble loading and unloading their body weight at the foot or ankle while walking will never be runners, they will develop issues the minute they try to start running. Oh, it may take some time, but it will happen. The BAD!

    What happens when the general population gets a hold of an idea that initially shows benefits, well, we tend to go overboard with it. We jump in head first, because if one hour of something is good, then of course walking around in these shoes all day must be even better. In fact we should wear them all the time, right?  Well, maybe, depends on how your feet actually work. If you don’t have good feet and ankles, resulting in poor gait pattern, the shoes will not fix it. If you compensate in your gait, i.e. you are a heel striker, you are still going to be a heel striker, only now you don’t have any cushion to support your heel. Resulting in issues you would not experience in a normal running shoe. The UGLY! (and they do look ugly).

    Now the common sense part, it does not mean you should never wear these shoes. It means that get your gait evaluated by a professional before trying them. And by a professional I mean a Physical Therapist or Orthopedic Surgeon (hopefully one specializing in running), a shoes salesman or even a Personal Trainer does not possess the appropriate education to encompass what needs to be assessed (or at least very few, and then you are paying PT prices). Then after you have been evaluated, work into these shoes slowly, anytime you change the proprioceptive feedback, it takes your body time to adjust, but at least now you are building a good base.  Meanwhile, you can still wear your normal running shoes, and continue to work out, because we never want to stop that.

    Operation Hawaii Beach Bod Week 5

    Here we are at week 5, where has the time gone?  I have been holding my own the past couple of weeks, meaning getting better sleep (mostly) and eating better (mostly). It does leave me with not much to show in the size department.  Just when I am finally able to increase my cardio workouts, my left knee gives out. Now the big question is, will this put a stop to operation Hawaii beach bod. Absolutely not!

    It means I need to alter  my workouts, instead of the cardio Crosstrainer, I will be extending my walking time and I will need to watch everything I eat like a hawk. I will not count myself out yet. This is where a lot of people in their goal to lose weight falter, it is much easier to quit. I mean after all, a bum knee means you can’t work out, right? Wrong, I don’t want to be pudgy on the beach (this is a great motivator), so I need to work around it. It is more difficult, but not impossible…keep the eye on the prize.

    Goals for next week:

    1. Keep up the food log on My fitness Pal (it is free and easy, switched to online because I was finding it hard to remember one day to the next what I ate).
    2. Stay on target with good sleep, been getting to bed even sometimes before 10pm.
    3. Work some way to get more walking time in, consistent is better than nothing at all.

     

    Operation Hawaiian Beach Bod Week 3

    Well, this week was not pretty. I did not even get half of my goals accomplished. My sleep was all over the place, I am going to blame my son…why not? He is a distraction, a welcome distraction but none the less, I need to be more firm about our time together. Other than that, I have no good excuse. I am sure I could come up with some wonderfully great ones, i.e. I had multiple session changes, I didn’t feel quite right, I didn’t get good sleep so it was hard to focus.

    When we use these reasons, we substantiate why our life is like it is. Because we choose it. I could have done a lot of things different, starting with guarding my sleep religiously. I know this is where I will get the biggest bang for my buck and it doesn’t really take much except, to turn off the TV, say to my family “good night”, and do my little ritual before bed. How hard is that? Obviously I need to work on this! I will not lose weight, have energy to work out, or see faster results until I get and keep a handle on my sleeping.

    Not to mention, my eating went to hell, because guess what? When you don’t get a quality sleep, you find it hard to focus, then you eat fattening stuff. Why? Because your brain works best off of fat!

    So, I am not going to beat myself up anymore. There is no point, identify what is wrong and fix it.

    Results for week 3: I did get my cardio in, I have increased from 15mins to 20mins 3 times a week. I also did both strength training sessions. I might be stronger and have more endurance. I did not gain weight, but nor did I lose any.

    Plans for Next Week:

    • Be religious about my sleep and energy
    • Don’t give into cravings, make sure you have groceries
    • Replenish my supplements
    • Keep up with the workouts (I did actually get these in)

    Operation Hawaii Beach Bod Week 2

    One week down and here is where the tire meets the road, did I get everything in this week? Well, no….I did not. And I could come up with a thousand excuses, all which would be very real and understandable.  The bottom line is if this really matters to me, I will not let other items take precedence. Other than of course my wonderful clients, my family, my friends, hmmmm, sound familar?

    Goals:

    • Cardio: 3-4 times per week for 20+ minutes (yes, this does include a warm up).
    • Strength: 2 times a week all major body parts, multi-joint exercises.
    • Stretching: 3-4 times a week about 5-10 minutes, focus on MELT (if you want to know more about this read our events page), ankles, quads, IT band. And whenever I remember to add bits and pieces.
    • Diet: Stick with Nutritionists plan, buy groceries ahead so I have choices and am  not stuck giving in to temptation. No wine during the week and 1-2 glasses on weekends.
    • Sleep: Get the best sleep I can (given I have Fibromyalgia, very difficult). Means going to bed early 10-10:30ish.

    So I got in all the cardio and strength training/flexibility, diet needs work. I did not get grocery shopping which meant by the end of the week I was running out of good food, i.e. salad, veggies, etc. Then stayed up too late, drank more than the goal, so Sunday was a horrible day for food.

    Results: Lost some weight, but had a flare up due to overdoing the weights and wine etc.

    Plans for Next Week:

    • Be better on the shopping,
    • lighten up on the intensity of training,
    • Don’t wait until I am starving to eat
    • Continue to work on getting better sleep

    Operation Hawaii Beach Bod

    As many of you may know, my daughter moved to Hawaii and I will be visiting her in July. While I may not be in the worst shape of my life, I certainly would like to lose a some weight before I hang out at the Beach in Hawaii. It is one thing to hang out at the neighborhood pool, quite another to be on Waikiki with those perfect looking 20 somethings.

    So enter Operation Hawaiian Beach Bod, here will be updates on what I am doing, what I am eating and if I am sticking to the program. Keep in mind this program I have designed for me, based on my goal, my time available to work out, and fitness level. Pretty much what I do for all my clients.

    First pick a realistic goal based on the time I have to work out (pretty much none), and my current fitness level (well, FM takes a bite out of that one) and what I like to eat (french fries, burgers and wine). So the goal, is going to be challenging, meaning if I want to lose about 10-15 lbs, I am going to need to make some fairly large changes. Am I prepared? Yes, I am… because the humiliation of appearing where I am now on a Hawaiian Beach is more painful than doing with out foods I like, and the pain I get when I exercise.

     

    Goal – lose some weight any amount of weight, get some muscle, so even if I don’t lose all the weight (and by weight I mean size, I rarely weigh myself), I will look better.