All posts by rnagy

Redefining Your Goals

Like many of you I have found myself at a stopping point and asking the hard question, what am I working towards now? As complex beings we are built on the bases of looking for the next thing, it could be a vacation, a performance goal whether professional or personal or finally getting to that home project we’ve been pinning on Pinterest for about a year. Whatever it is to you, getting started is the most agonizing part of the journey.

 

In todays blog I am going to talk steps related specifically on redefining your goals:

 

#1: Start Where You Are

 

Analyze where you are in your life in the present moment. What are you wiling to do during this time and what aren’t you willing to do, there is no right or wrong answer. Understand that where you are in the present moment isn’t a place you will be forever and have empathy for yourself, knowing there isn’t a time limit on when you have to remove yourself from this space.

 

Let’s start with a 5-minute journal every morning, here are some questions you can ask yourself:

      • How am I feeling? Why might I be feeling this way, good or bad.
      • Can I be accepting of this feeling? If the answer is no, what is limiting me from accepting this feeling?
      • What is one thing I am grateful for today?

 

 

One thing I’ve noticed over the past few months is when I take time for myself in the morning it sets the tone for my entire day. I used to coach CrossFit at 5:30AM Monday to Friday, for 2 years straight then go to my day job and it was draining. At the end of the day when it was time for me to workout and give to myself, I found that I had nothing left to give. It was only when I started slowing down, even just to enjoy my coffee in the morning that I felt fuller day by day.

 

 

#2: Action Creates Momentum

 

Any small action will ultimately create momentum towards the final goal. With this in mind, what is one action you can take today to move you closer to tomorrow? It could be as simple as folding that laundry basket you’ve been avoiding or going for a 10 minute walk. Folding that laundry basket could turn into getting to those dishes from last night or that walk could turn into doing a Union At Home workout. All you need to do is start, even if it’s just getting out of bed in the morning, that in itself could be everything. 

 

 

#3: Find Your Routine Again

 

So we’re journaling, we’re taking small actions within our lives and maybe we’re just feeling better overall. Like I said in #1, taking time for yourself will help keep your cup full because if we are continually emptying our cup over and over again something is going to break. We’ve all been clearly thrown out of our routine and probably getting eager to get back to it, so what does that look like? 

 

Grab your phone or a piece of paper and draw out your ideal week:

    • Label it for Monday through Friday
    • What time do you wake up at? How do you start your morning?
    • What does taking time for yourself look like? Is it working out or just enjoying a few extra minutes in bed with your favorite book?
    • Do you have kids? Have you wanted to find things as a family to do together?
    • Are you single? Have you wanted to make more time for your family/friends?
    • Are you in a relationship? What does a date night look like to you?

 

 

When was the last time you really sat down and looked at your entire week, start to finish. I’m sure most of you go through the paces much like myself and let the days blend together but sometimes a little structure goes a long way, even if its just writing it down.

 

#4: Pick One

 

Without essentially picking a goal we’ve starting analyzing our own lives and doing things to move us closer to tomorrow. We’ve done this by, understanding where we are presently and taking time for ourselves that turns into small daily actions that make us feel better. This allows us to dream up what could be and results in attainable goals to choose from. Your current goals could essentially be finding fun things to do with your partner, kids, family or friends. It doesn’t need to be something that so far out of reach or a goal that takes months to achieve. 

All we need is to understand that the world we live in now is so different than the one we had a few months ago and our goals should reflect that. It is also of the upmost importance to realize that where you are personally is different from someone you see on social media, put yourself first and take the steps you need to keep your cup full.

 

Disclaimer: 

 

Obviously I’m no expert in any one thing but I’ve found as an athlete and coach that there are tools I’ve obtained over the years that have helped me grow, I’ve learned these from coaches, mentors, close friends and even podcasts I’ve listened to. If anything I hope one of these four things help you look inward and find your growth even if its just looking at tomorrow.

 

Much love,

J

Improve Your Sleep

Do you ever wake up from a night of sleep or a quarantine nap and swear your body secretly did a super intense workout? A lot of factors can contribute to your quality of sleep, but one somewhat simple solution could be due to your sleep position. Now of course, altering your position won’t help you fall asleep quicker or ensure a deeper sleep, but it will help your body feel better in the AM.

 

You’re probably wondering “what is this magical sleep position”? You might also be wondering how am I supposed to monitor this if I am asleep? The good news is that however you choose to sleep right now might be okay with only small adjustments. The bad news is that you can’t watch, you’ll have to pay someone to stay awake and splash water on you every time you move. Just kidding, thankfully.

 

So, here is the simple answer. The spine needs to remain neutral and what that means is that all three curves of your spine need to be aligned. This includes your cervical (neck), thoracic (mid back), and lumbar (low back hip area). With that said this does eliminate certain positions but still leaves you with probably your most favorite. Here’s a breakdown of a few tips:

 

Sleeping on your side: This position is one of the most popular and while it is good for pregnant women, it’s still a valid option for others as well.

 

The downfall: your upper leg will stay in hip adduction and internal rotation pulling the lumbar spine. Your bottom arm may also become numb which can lead to impingement. If sleeping on your side with your knees also bent in fetal it can cause shortened hip flexors which can affect the position of the pelvis.

 

The fix: place a pillow between your knees to prevent your top leg from pulling on your spine. A little bit trickier considering you are asleep, but try to rotate sides throughout the night or at least every night to avoid the same arm being on the bottom. Finally, stay on your side if you’d like, but try to keep your legs straight rather than bent.

 

Sleeping on your stomach: Also a comfortable position and may help ease snoring.

 

The downfall: Your head may be turned for breathing, your arm may be overhead, and the cervical and lumbar spine may be more elevated than the thoracic.

 

The fix: Sleep with your face flat down on a pillow by placing your forehead on the pillow allowing you to still breathe but better align your spine. You can also add a pillow under your stomach to raise that to a neutral position. It would also be beneficial to keep your arms by your side.

 

Sleeping on your back: The position commonly known as “the best”, but it still has its own advantages and disadvantages.

 

The downfall: It may aggravate low back pain or sleep apnea. Pregnant women should also avoid this position, at least towards the end. The positive side is that your spine is in a neutral position. There is not necessarily a fix given your spine is already neutral; however, if you suffer from sleep apnea or low back pain it may not be the best choice. When it is all said and done, the most important factor to keep in mind is that your spine remains neutral, no matter the sleep position you choose. It’s a nice treat to know that you still have the ability to choose a favorite way to sleep while also helping you feel much better when you wake. So, grab a few extra pillows and play around with the way you sleep. Your AM self will thank you. 🙂

 

 

Salutations Sultans and Sultanas of Swing.

Today we are going to play a game to help us understand and know the difference between Sprains, Strains & Tears on this episode of Know…Your..Lingo! (Audience participation and applause)

 

Let me lay down the terms and facts about them first. You will be tested on this so bust out your writing utensils, be it quil, dip pens, ballpoint or #2, and paper, parchment, or clay tablets and toss that thinking cap on, even you back there Billy!

 

Sprains go down when a joint (ankle, knee, wrist, shoulder, ect) is forced into an awkward or unnatural position. Sprains are the overstretching or tearing of ligaments. Think of a ligament as a fibrous connective tissue in the body that connects bone to bone to help stabilize them together. A scenario this could happen is when you are walking on an uneven surface and then your ankle turns/twists one way. People often say twist when they refer to sprains.

 

Strains materialize from repetitive movements over a long period of time or from a single incident, where overstretching or tearing of the muscle or tendon occurs. Muscles and tendons are fibers that connect muscles to bones. A chronic strain would be from repetitive movements overtime whereas an acute strain is a single instantaneous stretch or tear. A scenario this could happen is when you are picking up a heavier box from the floor and feel a “pull” in your lower back. People often say pull when they refer to strains.

 

Tears stumble into existence from the ripping of ligaments, muscles or tendons from related actions that would cause those fibers to overstretch and is far  more serious and could take months to heal. Tears could mean surgery or rehabilitation depending on the severity. You may see a tear happen in sports, one of the most know tears would be at the knee more commonly thought of as an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear.

 

Fill in the blank Test.

(Sprain Strain Tear)

Select the correct term above to fill in the blank. 

 

1. Todd was frolicking down Penn ave listening to Hatebreed when he awkwardly stepped in a pothole and _______ his ankle.

 

2. Big Curt has been throwing fast balls all season for UF’s baseball team, but after throwing the game winning pitch in extra innings he felt a pulling sensation in his shoulder muscles. Big Curt believes he _______ his shoulder.

 

3. During the Wizard’s Powerful class one of the members crushes a lift and hits a new PR. Upon celebration the Wizard performs his special PR dance and then magically goes down gripping his knee. Upon further review is appears the Wizard has suffered a ________ at the Knee

 

4. When Sky’s favorite gym reopened (UF) she was thrilled to go train. So elated, that she jumped on the deadlift platform, loaded the bar to 500lbs and gave it the old fashioned college try. About halfway up on the lift she feels her low back get tight and drops the bar. The crowd grumbles and rumbles, saying she must have ______ her low back.

 

5. Mr. Rogers was leaving his television station WQED on a cold Pittsburgh winter day. As he was walking down the stair he slipped on some slippy ice and caught his fall by extending his arms and landing on his writs. He felt like his wrist was jammed or twisted and said “Awe shucks I ______ my wrist.” He immediately healed because he is Mr. Rogers.

 

Thank you for learning and playing on today’s episode of “Know Your Lingo”. Tune in soon for more fun and as always Stay Bumpy my friends.

Cheers,

-CeJ

Answers: 1) Sprain 2) Strain 3) Tear 4) Strain 5) Sprain

State of the Union

We have now been closed for just over two months. Like many of you we can’t wait to return to the gym and Nova Place for some lifting, coffee as well as food and libations from Federal Galley. We still do not know when we will be re-opening, yet we are doing all we can to prepare for when that does happen. I wanted to write this post to tell all of you what we have been doing to prepare. We have some exciting things on the horizon and when we do re-open we will be ready to do more to help each and every one of you.

 

Expansion.

 

The expansion that we have been working on is moving forward. The work is almost done and the floor and outdoor turf will be down in two weeks. The equipment from elitefts is going to start arriving soon. When this space opens we will have more outdoor space than indoor space. We will also have garage doors that open to the turf. In the age of Covid-19 it will give us the opportunity to train without being stuck indoors. 

 

Cleaning.

 

We have increased our cleaning in the facility. This began before the shut down and will continue when we are able to re-open. We will continue with hourly wipe downs as well as our night crew disinfecting the entire facility. We have also had the ceilings and overhead ducts cleaned during this shut down.

 

Redefining who we are.

 

We have spent time doing discussing what we want to be and how we want to best service our members. It is important that we remember during this process that we want to be a part of the community and a gathering place for a diverse group of peoples to arrive and become better versions of theirselves. With this in mind we have set up a meeting with outside organizations to help us serve our clients better.

 

Following safety guidelines.

 

We have yet to receive safety guidelines from the state on how we can safely re-open. To be proactive we have reviewed Ohio’s safety guidelines and we are prepared to open with these guidelines. While we understand that Ohio’s guidelines are not going to be the same as PA’s we  are being prepared based upon the best information that we have available. The moment PA announces their guidelines we will review those and update ours to match. We want to make sure that you have a great and safe experience at UF and will do all we can to make this happen. 

 

In addition to these guidelines we are working closely with Faros properties to make sure that we are doing everything in accordance with the state, county and city to keep our facility safe. 

 

We appreciate each and everyone of you and hope to see you very soon.

 

Todd Hamer

Know Your Body

The body is fascinating. I am typing this and eating almonds, and despite being extremely sedentary, my body is still working. Clearly not difficult work but there are still jobs to be done, like keeping myself in good posture, engaging my fingers to type, and digesting my food. Although the intricacies may not excite everyone, I believe there is benefit for those who invest a certain amount of time and energy into transforming the body to understand an overview of its efforts.

 

I will continue to dive in a bit deeper to specific muscles and their role, provide a few tips for relieving pain without a massage, and similar topics that pop into my head or that you request. The thought of summarizing something so complex seems daunting, but my hope is that if you know nothing about the body you learn something and if you know it all you are reminded that the body is neat. Let’s get to it.

 

The muscular system consists of skeletal, cardiac, and smooth muscle cells. Cardiac and smooth muscles are part of the autonomic nervous system and work involuntarily. Cardiac muscle cells are found in the heart and smooth muscle cells line the walls in hollow organs such as the stomach and passageways such as arteries. In the skin these cells cause your hair to stand up when you are cold or scared, aka goosebumps. Skeletal muscle cells are under voluntary control of the somatic nervous system and are composed of bundles of cells called muscle fibers. Muscle fibers are composed of many myofibrils which contain sarcomeres. These are the block-like units that appear adjacently down the entire myofibril and each have alternating thick filaments (myosin) and thin filaments (actin). The myosin latches onto the actin pulling it so the proteins slide past each other. This causes the sarcomere to shorten thus creating a muscle contraction, known as the sliding filament mechanism.

 

I’m going to stop there with the actual contraction of muscles. I hope that gave you a glimpse of the internal happenings of muscle cells, but now I want to introduce something a little less #science-like and a bit more practical if you want to get the most out of training.

 

If you have worked with any of our coaches or trainers, I am sure you have heard the terms isometric, eccentric, and concentric contractions. I would like to bet they even taught you the meaning and benefit of each. But, if you haven’t used them yet or don’t quite get it, let’s take a peek now.

 

Isometric: the muscle fibers do not change length during contraction. Examples are exercises with a pause or a plank. Training isometrics are beneficial because they require you to maintain the proper position even when you are “on the breaks”.

 

Eccentric: the muscle fibers lengthen during this phase. An easier way to think of it is the part of the movement when your body wants to accelerate. Lowering the arm from a biceps curl, the downward motion of the squat, or the upward phase on the leg curl machine are a few examples. Training this phase of the movement can be done with negatives, or slow eccentrics, by using a count to slow the movement down. This is helpful for maintaining tension even when you are “stepping on the breaks” and for beginners learning the movement. Oftentimes, the eccentric phase will be prescribed for rehab exercises, although they do not always need to be slow reps.

 

Concentric: the muscle fibers shorten, creating the force to move an object. If training speed work, it is performed during this portion of the movement as we “step on the gas”. Examples are the upward portion of the biceps curl, standing up from a squat, and pulling yourself up during a pull-up.

Have you ever wondered why muscles received their name? Most are very easy to figure out and can be helpful during training. Muscles are named for a variety of reasons but here a few of the most interesting:

 

Arrangement of the muscle fibers: the fibers run lengthwise through the muscle and can be named dependent on their direction. Example: the deltoid is rounded and triangular on the shoulder. The transversus abdominis is the deepest abdominal muscle that runs horizontally across the abdomen. Knowing the direction of the fibers can help guide you in the action of that muscle and exercises to target it best.

 

Number of origins: The origin of a muscle is the attachment site that does not move and some have more than one. You might be able to guess. The (bi)ceps with the long and short head; the (tri)ceps with the long, medial, and lateral heads; and the (quad)riceps with four parts named the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius. This can be helpful because although we typically group the three heads of the triceps into one word, each section can be targeted better through different movements. If you want bigger or more useful muscles, it helps to make them well rounded.

 

Location of origins and insertions: insertions are the movable attachments. An example of this is the sternocleidomastoid, a neck muscle that originates on the sternum and inserts on the mastoid (a part of the temporal bone near the ear). With any muscle, the insertion is pulled toward the origin when a muscle contracts, which can help guide you to the movement of the muscle.

 

Size of the muscle: examples are the gluteus maximus (the largest muscle in the body) or the extensor digiti minimi (the muscle that extends the pinky finger).

 

They can also be named for their action, but instead of listing a few examples I want to talk about those actions.

 

Flexion: a movement that decreases the joint angle (think biceps curl as you bring your wrist closer to your shoulder or hip flexion as you bring your knee closer to your chest).

 

Extension: a movement that increases the joint angle (think triceps extension as you straighten your arm or hip extension as you bring your hips through in a bridge).

 

Abduction: a movement that brings a limb away from the body (clamshells, side steps, or lateral raises). Adduction: a movement that brings the limb close to the body (return from abduction or cable crossover).

 

Elevation: a movement in the upward direction (shrugging).

 

Depression: return from upward movement.

 

Rotation: think rotator cuff exercises such as internal rotation and external rotation.

 

Performing any of the above actions will consist of the primary mover, the opposing muscle, and the helpers – and they all have special names. I will use the classic bicep curl as an example. The bicep, which is the muscle on the front of the arm performs elbow flexion, so it is the agonist; however, the triceps which is the muscle on the back of the arm performs elbow extension, so it is the antagonist in this situation. The brachioradialis and brachialis, two forearm muscles help the biceps move through elbow flexion so they are called synergists. I will redefine as needed again, but I will most certainly use these terms in the next few blogs.

 

Well, that covered a lot and very little all at the same time. The body is complex and it can seem overwhelming, but knowing even a little can make it seem less arduous. I encourage you to learn more about the body and here is my recommendation: each day you train, take a few minutes to search the exercises you plan to do and answer a few questions. What muscles are used during the movement? What are the actions? What is the antagonist and synergist of the agonist? If you are extra curious, read more, ask any of us your questions, and continue to learn. The more you know, the more effective your time in the gym will become, which is always valuable. 🙂

Four Pillars: Sleep

I won’t talk too much about what someone can do during this pandemic. I believe that enough people talking about how to maintain your fitness during the current situation. What I do want to talk about is what I believe to be the four pillars to success in any fitness goal. These are the four subjects that I start with everyone I work with and constantly maintain status on them. Especially, if you feel like you hit a wall or stuck in going forward revert back to these four:

 

Sleep, Nutrition, Training, Water.

 

In that exact order as well. I realize that these might seem obvious but through a series of articles on each, I plan to cover certain points that I find people miss.

 

Let’s start with sleep. Sleep is by far the most important key to achieving any goal you have. Especially any physical goal. If you want to understand how important sleep really is I highly recommend looking into Dr. Matthew Walkers research.

 

Again everyone knows how important it is but how do you optimize it. Well besides sleep hygiene (no tv before bed, going to sleep at the same time each night, and no blue light an hour before bed) I believe there to nutritional deficiencies and air way problems that seriously hinder your sleep.

 

  1. Vitamin D
    1. Vitamin D is highly important for calcium absorption but less known that low vitamin D levels are associated with sleep disorders. Dr. Stasha Gominak has done some great work in looking at deficiencies in vitamin D and B vitamins with sleep disorders. Now, I am no doctor or dietitian so I highly, HIGHLY, recommend getting blood work. This helps establish where you are now. Another thing I want to make clear is when you get the test is important to note that the “normal” range for vitamin D is 30ng/mL – 100ng/mL which is a HUGE range. That just makes sure you are not sick that do not show optimal levels. Just because you are not defined as sick does not mean you are not showing symptoms that are effected by not being in an optimal range. I shoot to keep my levels around 60ng/dL. I do this by being outside as much as I can but also supplementing vitamin D. Again talk to a health professional but here is a link for further info on Vitamin and sleep which could help tremendously

 

https://drgominak.com

 

  1. Magnesium
    1. This one you might have heard of. A lot of sleeping supplements out there load this one up but the real question is why would so many people be so deficient in this one? I believe people consume an abundant amount of diuretics which can flush out important electrolytes and minerals. If you are drawing a blank let’s run through an average day. Waking up to a great cup of coffee is your first diuretic, then maybe around three you have another cup of diuretic and maybe it’s been a particularly long day so you have an alcoholic beverage or two to finish the day with a strong diuretic. Even before that hit’s you, most people’s magnesium levels are lower than optimal since magnesium is green leafy vegetables, which most people don’t consume. Again we are talking about optimal levels and since it’s not fat-soluble you can flush these real quick but also replenish quickly too. Talk to your doctor or a dietitian before supplementing but since magnesium is water-soluble it is fairly harmless to supplement. If you want to consume magnesium through food try a spinach smoothie with more than a cup in it as well as snack on Brazil nuts, which unfortunately taste like dirt.

 

  1. CPAP Machine (Continuous positive airway pressure)
    1. I want to give a client experience with this one. I had a client that wanted to get into powerlifting. The first thing I do is bring up my four pillars (for any goal). At first, he would always say that his sleep was great but after a while, he finally mentioned how he snores rather constantly through the night. Realizing that snoring is not a good sign I recommended a sleep study. It took some time but eventually convinced him to get a sleep study. My client was diagnosed a CPAP machine right away. Let me make something extremely clear, before this he told me he got “good” sleep, he didn’t wake up that tired, and normally felt energized throughout the day but once he got the CPAP machine one of the first things he told me was “I didn’t realize how poor I have been sleeping for so long.” One point I want to stress, the more I work with people the more I realize how common this is. I have seen all shapes and sizes have this problem so just because you don’t have a neck like some of our powerlifters doesn’t mean you don’t have it.

 

You might feel that you are sleeping “well” but I would argue that you also might be sleeping so poorly for so long that your baseline could eventually be one of your worst nights of sleep. 

Side note his blood pressure went down that was on the higher side for some time.

 

I hope you noticed how many times I mentioned “optimal.” It’s important because it’s not usually that giant red flags that hold us back from our goal. It can be the little things over a long period of time that ultimately restricts us from accomplishing our goals. Optimizing the little things can have a profound effect.

Here are added articles/videos that go more in depth:

https://www.sleepdiplomat.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCyJd-9VFq8&t=3s

https://thesleepdoctor.com/2019/02/12/5-vitamin-deficiencies-that-can-affect-your-sleep/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/sleep/ask-the-doctor-sleep-and-magnesium-supplements

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27225921/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6212970/

Tempo training: (What is it, and when should it be used).

If you’ve spent a bit of time around a barbell, there’s a good chance you’ve either heard of or have incorporated tempo training into your program. If this is your first time hearing about it, then welcome. Tempo training can be extremely beneficial when it comes to building strength, muscle mass, and preventing/ overcoming injury. First, let’s dive into exactly what we mean when we refer to the term tempo. When used while performing a particular movement such as a squat, benchpress, deadlift, etc., the tempo refers to the amount of time that our body is performing an eccentric, isometric, and concentric contraction. In other words, this is the amount of time that it takes us to lower the bar and then return it to the starting position.

 

If you are following a training program that utilizes tempos, you will most likely see it written next to the movement that you are performing in the form of three numbers. For example: Barbell tempo front squats (3:2:1). In this example, the first digit refers to the number of seconds required for the eccentric (lowering) phase. The second refers to the isometric (pause) phase. And the third refers to the concentric (upward) phase. So, with a 3:2:1 tempo, the individual would lower the weight for a 3 count, pause for a 2 count, and drive the bar upward in a 1 count. This is just one of the many combinations you can use when incorporating tempos.

 

So what makes this method so beneficial? Although there are many benefits, the simplest answer would be that it increases the time under tension during the movement. Through this, you have the ability to improve in areas such as muscle hypertrophy, body awareness, motor control, and stability. On top of that, it’s a great way to challenge yourself and add variety to your training. Personally, I have seen all of these benefits from incorporating tempo work into my programming. As a high level powerlifter, it has allowed me to address my weaknesses within my lifts, gain a better understanding of my form and technique, and has helped me to prevent and overcome injuries in the past.

 

Now let’s go ahead and discuss how we can incorporate them. First and foremost, understand that tempos can be performed with any lift, not just the squat, bench press, or deadlift. They can be performed with free weights, machines, and even bodyweight exercises. There are 3 main ways to implement them into your training. Slow eccentrics, pause reps, and speed work.

 

Slow eccentrics: The eccentric portion of a lift typically places the most amount of stress on your muscles. So by using a slow tempo, you have the ability to improve hypertrophy and strength. It also allows you to focus on controlling the weight as it is being lowered, which will help to improve your technique. To achieve this, incorporate eccentrics of anywhere from 3-5 seconds, and start with using around 60% of your 1 rep max.

 

Paused reps: Pausing a rep at the bottom of the movement will teach you how to stay tight and control the load at what is considered the toughest point of the lift. With pauses, a tempo of 2-3 seconds is usually ideal, and like with slow eccentrics, starting with 60-70% of your 1 rep max is best.

 

Speed work: Working on explosive speed can allow your body to produce greater force over time, which will increase overall strength, speed, and muscle mass. When performing speed work, the load should move throughout the concentric portion of the movement as quickly as possible while also staying under control. Because of this, the tempo would look something like (2:0:0). As with eccentrics and pauses, start with 50-60% of your max.

 

The best way to learn what works best for you is to try it out for yourself and see. Regardless of what you go with, you will see nothing but benefits from incorporating tempo training into your routine.  

Hello Heroes of History and Stewards of Wellness

With all these Instagram Influences out there I wanted to dig back and showcase one of the real O.G. influences of the fitness & wellness culture. This evangelist of wellness went from a self considered sugar-holic to the World Renowned Godfather of Fitness. At 21 he opened one of the first health clubs, at 39 he started what would be the longest (34 years) running television exercise program, at 54 he beat Arnold Schwarzenegger (21) in an unofficial contest, at 70 he was handcuffed and towed 70 rowboats from the Queen’s Way Bridge in the Long Beach Harbor to the Queen Mary (1 mile). If you’ve ever used a leg extension machine, Smith Machine, the weight selector on cable machines, then you have used one of his inventions. This shadowy icon of wellness is no other than Jumpin Jack Lalanne.

 

Long before Jane Fonda, Richard Simmons, Tony Little and Shaun T, Jack published numerous books and hosted countless TV shows about the benefits of regular exercise and a good diet. Jack was an advocate for everything in moderation when it came to a good diet. He personal was believer in a plant based diet with the addition of fish, vitamins (which he had his own line of) and juicing (The Tiger Juicer if anyone remembers those infomercials). He blamed added sugars and process foods for many of America’s health problems. When exercising, Jack believed in vigorous exercise with weights or body weight movements until muscular fatigue set in. Most Doctors back then believed this would leave him muscle bound and un-athletic and could give men who follow his program heart attacks due to exercise. Well we know now that exercise and movement is one of the best ways to battle against heart disease and Jack regularly did acrobatic feats to prove his athleticism and defeat his critics.

 

“Dying is easy. Living is a pain in the butt. It’s like an athletic event. You’ve got to train for it. You’ve got to eat right. You’ve got to exercise. Your health account, your bank account, they’re the same thing. The more you put in, the more you can take out. Exercise is king and nutrition is queen: together, you have a kingdom.” Jack LaLanne

 

At his home on January 23, 2011 the 96 year old Lalanne passed away due to respiratory failure from pneumonia, he had been exercising up til that day.

 

Do yourself a favor, take some time and check this real influencer out and learn a thing or two from his teachings. Now since you have been siting down too long reading this blog, get up and give me 20 squats!

 

Get up & Move,

CeJ

Pandemic (un)Productivity 

For the past few years, I have had this recurring dream, where it is the end of a vacation and I am scrambling to get to the beach because I realized that I stayed in my hotel room for the entire trip. I am bargaining for more time as I unpack and repack my suitcase because I didn’t get a tan, I didn’t have any fruity drinks, I accomplished nothing, and I wasted my precious vacation time. Dream me laments about how irresponsible I was with my use of time and at the end of each dream, I am promising myself I won’t stay cooped up like that again. 

 

COVID-19 has given us an unexpected vacation in a sense. A vacation from our day in and day out, normal routine. For most people, their routine has been shaken up, but it is not a vacation. It is an absolute nightmare, with work harder than they could ever imagine, with anxieties running high constantly, and uncertainty about what will come next. For others, it has been a time to slow down in a lifestyle that demands us to keep moving faster. 

 

It is difficult to reconcile the spectrum of situations individuals are experiencing and that they are also taking place simultaneously. I have wrestled with those feelings over the past few months, knowing both people in the healthcare field on the front lines, but also feeling grateful to spend time with my partner and with my dog, who I know doesn’t have much time left. 

 

As we move from red to yellow, and eventually from yellow to green, my dream anxieties are mixing with my waking anxieties. My brain is saying things like, “You have had all these weeks at home and nothing to show for it.” And, “Why didn’t you paint the kitchen? Why did you lay on the couch in a blanket for all that time? You could have organized the basement, and read your stack of books, and finished making your quilt.” 

 

These are things I am working through with my therapists (yes, that is plural), my friends, and my partner. They tell me – and they are right – that this is not a vacation, this is a FFF (flight, fright, freeze) situation. We are in constant survival mode, with warning alarms blaring. Does painting my kitchen help me survive? No. Does spending time on the couch with my old dog help me survive? Probably yes, in an emotional sort of way. 

 

How do we keep some semblance of normalcy while we are told simply going to the grocery store (to get life sustaining food) isn’t safe? A few weeks ago I went to Rite Aid, and by the time I got in line, I worked myself up to the point where I had to leave my things on a random shelf and walk out without buying anything. 

 

So with the Rite Aid situation in mind, I want to list some things that I did successfully to prove to myself that I was productive – and maybe it’ll help someone else who is struggling with this.

 

Things I did during COVID-19

  • Read 6 books, and counting (I am 7 books ahead on my 2020 reading challenge!)
  • Made masks for friends and family
  • Continued therapy with my couple’s therapist and personal therapist
  • Worked on difficult things from therapy
  • Dabbled in painting (watercolor is really hard)
  • Cleaned our house, made it a big mess, and cleaned it, and made it a mess….
  • Dug out and gave away a stupid amount of rocks from our garden
  • Spent quality time with my partner and my pets
  • Played hours of Homescapes
  • Binge watched Designated Survivor, Mrs. America, and Little Fires Everywhere
  • Worked with my psychiatrist to try a different medication 
  • Learned how to use Procreate (sort of) on my iPad 
  • Repotted plants
  • Retrained myself to sleep in
  • Attended two virtual Creative Mornings
  • Attended a virtual talk with Margaret Atwood

 

As I am reflecting on this, I definitely still feel like I didn’t accomplish anything important during this time and that I *should* have been more *productive* by normal societal standards. (Lol, what is normal?)

 

However, would I have read 6 books in 8 weeks with my pre-COVID schedule? Definitely not. 

 

Would I have attempted to learn how to paint? Nope. 

 

Would I have had time to watch 60+ episodes of TV? Not without losing a lot of sleep. 

 

Going forward, I will still be reading, I might still paint something, and I will definitely still be watching TV. I am hopeful I can do these things without feeling guilty for wasting “vacation time” and call tell my a**hole brain to suck it. 

 

Note: I have an immense amount of privilege in that I’m healthy, housed, & financially stable at the moment. My feelings on the state of things from that lens will have to wait for another day.

 

For the cats, 

Catlyn

 

Working Out vs. Training

Are you Working out or Training? We’ve all heard both of those terms used hundreds of times, but what do they really mean, and is there a difference? These two terms can be both subjective and objective in their own ways. Neither one of them is better than the other, and they both hold a purpose in your daily routine. It really comes down to the individual and their overall goals. To dig a little deeper, let’s define the two.

 

Training is the term typically used when there is a competitive goal that is planned for a specific day or event. Typically, a program is designed and organized around that day with the purpose to yield the best results possible. With this, you would design your program by starting from the day of the event and working backwards. Each training session would include purposefully selected movements with the intent of achieving a specific goal for that given day. On the flip side, working out is typically used when there is no competition or event planned, and you simply want to stay active, feel good, and work towards accomplishing some personal goals. You may still have a timeline for specific things, but you are mainly enjoying the process, and going with the flow. Workouts typically aren’t planned backwards for month in advance. They can be planned a week at a time, a day at a time, or even on the fly. That’s the beauty and joy of workouts. You can be as creative and individualized as you want. 

 

So now the question is, when is it necessary to train, and when should you be working out? Well, that’s something only you can answer, and it depends solely on your priorities and goals. I do however recommend that at one point or another every individual train to participate in some sort of event or competition. This can be as laid back or as serious as you want. A 5k all the way up to a marathon (or beyond). A local push/pull charity meet or a full powerlifting meet half way across the country. Either way, participating in a competition will provide you with a great opportunity to set goals, challenge yourself, and overcome obstacles in a way that can only only be achieved when you put yourself outside of your comfort zone. By signing up and circling the date on a calendar, you understand that you have a specific amount of time to focus all of your attention to achieving your goals. There’s no better feeling than when you cross the finish line the day of the event, and realize that you achieved exactly what you set out to do.

 

However, it is unrealistic to train this way year round. Every individual needs down time in order to rest, recover, and reset the body and mind. This is where working out can be very beneficial. Take this pandemic for example. With the closure of gyms and businesses, now is a perfect time to have fun and challenge yourself in new ways. Your workouts can be completely different from anything that you’ve ever done. They should be fun, low stress, and an opportunity to set some new personal goals. No one knows how long this will go on, and there are no scheduled competitions in sight. If you were one of those people who had a competition scheduled, understand that it may be quite some time before you’re able to compete again. There’s no sense in continuing to train hard for something that is still uncertain. Step back, take a break, and focus on things that you have potentially been missing out on. Wake up and plan your workout on the fly. Get creative, try something you’ve never done, and go with the flow.