Archives for November 2012

Survive and Thrive During the Holidays!

As the stress goes up pain usually does as well. The holidays can bring joy and good cheer but they can also bring your no good Cousin Bill out of the woodwork to eat all your food and frighten your kids. You can usually get Cousin Bill out of the house after the pumpkin pie is finished but the stress sticks around when you think of seeing him on Christmas.
With stress comes a host of things that cause issues. Cortisol levels in our body rise which increases inflammation. Most people carry stress in their shoulders which can lead to distorted posture and shoulder and back pain. Our energy level drops and that causes us to stop doing the things that are most important when we feel this way: exercise and eating healthy. This all leads to more pain and discomfort.
What I want to do today is give you some ideas to relieve some of the pain that develops at these times.  
1. Keep doing the things you should be doing. The worst time to jump off the “healthy habits” bandwagon is when you’re under stress. All that will do is make you feel even more stressed. You know these things are going to happen, so mentally plan for them and schedule your time accordingly. And what better time to leave for the gym then when Cousin Bill is going to come by looking for leftovers?
2. Get your soft tissue work in. You can go for a massage or use your foam roller (if you don’t know what that is or how to use one, go here). All of that stress creates tightness and good soft tissue work helps break that down. Soft tissue work increases flexibility, mobility, circulation and gives you a laundry list of other benefits. If you still haven’t gotten on the foam roller bandwagon GET ON IT NOW!! Your body will dislike you a little at first, but will love you soon after.
3. Work those hips! I liken the hips to a door. You can have the best door made out of the most beautiful oak and a strong door frame to hang it from, but if the hinge is made out of cheap metal and breaks, then you have a lousy door. Your hips are the hinge. Most of us have tight, immobile hips because we sit for so much of the day. People don’t realize that most back pain doesn’t come from back issues, it comes from poor hip function, so stand up, get moving and get stretching. Good hips will make your whole body function and feel better.
4. Work those shoulders! If the hips are number one in making your body feel better than your shoulders are 1A. If you carry stress in your shoulders, as most people do, that causes tightness in the trapezius/neck area. That leads to all sorts of fun stuff like rotator cuff injuries, back pain, headaches, more stress and bad posture. In other words, the stress in your shoulders begets more stress in your shoulders! Not good. The most important thing to improve your shoulder posture is awareness, so be aware of keeping your body in the “chest up, shoulders down” position. That will make a huge difference. As a bonus it will look like you lost some weight, too!
5. Just go with it. Sometimes the holidays require us to do some things we might not necessarily want to do. Just do your best to go with it. You don’t have a choice so do your best to enjoy the time.
6. Enjoy yourself. At the end of the day the holidays should be about enjoying yourself and being thankful for what you have. Don’t forget that!

Happy Holidays!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach
Discover Your Strength!

7 Holiday Gift Ideas for the Gym Rat In Your Life

Hi! Every Christmas I write a list so that you can do some shopping for the fitness enthusiast in your life. This year is no exception, so please don’t get your loved one the latest “Butt Lifter” or “Ab Toner” or whatever else you just saw on that infomercial. I’ll give you the lowdown on some stuff that you can get that will really work for your favorite gym rat.

1. Resistance Bands – Over the last year I’ve introduced these to my clients and we use them all the time to get stronger, more mobile, lose weight increase flexibility and have a ton of fun. The bands I recommend aren’t the usual ones you can find in any sporting goods store, though. The ones I use are like really big rubber bands.

You can get  a package here that will give you everything you need to get started including a four-week workout program. You can also go here to download a free e-book about how to develop a stronger core with bands. Who doesn’t like free?
2. Ab Wheel. Oh yes! The only thing I’ve ever seen on an infomercial that actually works! This is a fantastic tool for core training and you can find them just about anywhere for between 10 and 20 bucks. The only thing is that it WILL make you pretty darn sore the first few times you use it, so start off slowly and it does fall into the “advanced” exercise category so be honest about your level before you tear yourself up.
3. ARF wear. Those who know me know how much I love and value our four-legged friends. In fact, as I write this, I have my puppy taking a nap in my lap. Go here to pick up something to help support one of the best animal rescue organizations anywhere: Tony LaRussa’s Animal Rescue Foundation. (I know it’s not fitness related, but that’s OK.)
4. A Blender Bottle. These are, quite simply, the best shaker bottles around! They come with a wire/whisk ball that breaks up your protein powder and mixes it up very well. No more chunky protein shakes! You can find them in just about any supplement/health food store for about $10-$15 depending on the size. I have five and I still need to seach for a clean one!
5. A personal trainer. I can’t let this go without a shameless plug. But seriously, whether it’s me or someone else, a good trainer can get you to your goals faster and safer. Just do your due diligence and find a good one.
6. Eating Well magazine. Everyone knows how important nutrition is to your goals. This magazine focuses on relatively healthy, easy and most importantly, delicious recipes that anyone can make. Even me! For just $9.99 you can get a year subscription to this great magazine. Just go here to get it. 
7. The Men’s Health Book of Power Training by Robert dos Remedios. Put it this way. This book completely changed the way I look at training. If you’re still having a “chest” day and an “arm” day take a look at this book to see another more integrated and functional full-body approach. The author trains hundreds of college athletes a day using the templates found right here. 
Well, I hope that gives you some ideas. Please let me know if you have any questions or need some more suggestions for the people in your life. Have a wonderful holiday season!
Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach
Discover Your Strength!

6 Ways To Keep The Weight Off During The Holidays

1. It’s only three or four days in six weeks. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Eve, Company Party. That’s it! Don’t use that as an excuse to eat like garbage the rest of the time.

2. No guilt! Enjoy your holidays and don’t feel bad about it. If guilt sets in, you’re much more likely to use that guilt as an excuse to give in and indulge even more.

3. Prepare. The holidays are no secret. You know that Thanksgiving is November 22nd, Christmas is December 25th and New Years Eve is December 31st. Plan it out so that you eat well leading up to those days and can effectively use those days as “reward” days for eating well the rest of the time.

4. Exercise. There is no reason to stop exercising during the holidays. Again it’s just three or four days out of six weeks. Some people will tell me they’re too stressed out with family stuff to exercise now. That’s like saying I’m too sick to take any medicine. In other words, there’s no better way to get away for a little bit a do something positive for you.

5. Set a goal. Just set a goal for yourself that you will not gain weight during the holiday season. Write it down and believe that you will accomplish it. Like any goal, you’ll find yourself subconsciously doing the things you need to do to accomplish it.

6. Look ahead. You know how you’ll feel if you act like everyone else and put on 10 pounds over the next two months. Looking ahead at the end result of tends to keep things in perspective.

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach
Discover Your Strength!