Tag Archives: Health

Nutrition Debunking (Part Two)

Have you ever noticed that a lot of “fad diets” really stray away from consumption of carbs or labels will market foods as “low-carb,” this is a primary example of society conditioning us to believe a certain food group is bad without really allowing ourselves to process the truth. I’m going to flat out say it, CARBOHYDRATES ARE NOT BAD.

 

So, the question remains, why are we conditioned to believe carbs are bad? All good and tasty things we love have carbohydrates in them, such as: pastries, bread and snack foods. Ultimately these are things you want to eat in moderation but the sheer fact that carbs are marketed as bad leads us to believe we shouldn’t eat even the ones that do benefit us. The reality here is if the average person really looked into what they should be eating, we would find that most humans, if not all should be getting in at least 100g – 200g of carbs a day based on their specific needs and daily caloric intake. A lot of times when I have clients come to me I’m noticing if not all are in a deficit and not fueling their body properly, this comes as a shock when I actually start introducing more food into their diets. The responses I get are, “I feel like I’m eating too much,” “I feel like this is way too many carbs” – Mostly these feelings stem from eating whole and nutrient dense carbs (rice, oatmeal, sweet potatoes) energy sources that will keep you fuller for a longer period of time vs pastries, bread and snack foods that only curb that hunger feeling for maybe less than an hour.

 

The reason we see low-carb diets advertised for weight-loss is because it’s an easier grab of the consumers attention then actually taking the time to educate a client on eating in a deficit and working out as a sustainable approach. This is why diet culture is insanely toxic for the human mind/body and also at the same time very profitable. Like I said in part one of my Nutrition Debunking series, quick-fixes do not yield long-term results. The idea here that makes diet culture so profitable is that it requires the consumer to continuously come back for more, it’s basically an endless cycle of dieting. Do you really want to spend your entire life dieting on and off? I’d hope not. Telling the consumer carbs are bad or to eat low-carb creates lack of trust in an energy sources that our bodies need, we’ll get used to eating a lower and lower amount of calories until we are starving ourselves and then we’ll binge and find ourselves chasing that low-carb diet again that some Instagram influencer told us to do because juice cleanses are needed to feel “refreshed” again.

 

Honestly, aren’t you sick of dieting? Aren’t you tired of always feeling like you can’t have this or that? True nutrition education teaches nutrition professionals how to bring awareness to sustainable weight-loss that yields long-term results, habit building and trust creating relationships with all types of food. The truth to the whole “carbs are bad” or eating only “low-carb” is that it’s indeed fake news. You can have that doughnut or muffin and go about your day not feeling bad or feeling like you threw your whole day off because of one thing. Allow yourself to have the pastry and then go about your day choosing whole and nutrient dense foods, making good choices that fuel your body and making sure you are eating around your body weight in protein.

 

It is my ultimate goal to educate people on eating well and never telling yourself you can’t have something because honestly thats just dumb, why would you ever avoid foods that make you happy. Life is all about balance and being insanely restrictive isn’t fun, it creates stress, makes you unhappy and feel inadequate – Trust me I’ve done the whole restrictive thing. When we let ourselves enjoy we want it less, the desire to binge becomes undesirable and honestly we become a happier, healthier version of ourself. 

 

If you’re ever curious as to what you should be consuming, grab me and pull me to the side in the gym or DM me on Instagram (@jlemay). I’d rather spend 30 min with you making sure you are fueling your body and feeling your best than have you spend the rest of your life feeling like you have no idea what you’re doing or that you’re not seeing the results you want to see.

The Power of Powerlifting

This past weekend, Union Fitness hosted the 3rd annual Iron City Open powerlifting meet. With the help of our staff, Doug Nostrant and his team of referees, along with our member volunteer spotters and loaders, we were able to have an extremely safe and successful event. I will be completely honest, this is an event that I was very unsure about happening a couple of months ago, and even up until a few before the competition. As far as I am aware, this was the first event that was held in the western PA area since before the start of the pandemic in March. 

 

What made this event special was not only the competitors that attended and the weight which they were able to lift, but all of the people who came together to make sure that everyone was safe and meeting all of the guidelines and standards necessary in order to be able to hold the event. From the outdoor tent, to the USPA referees making sure that the equipment was properly cleaned after every single lifter completed an attempt. That’s right, the bars and benches were disinfected and cleaned after each competitor touched it. You can’t ask for much more care and safety than that. All while wearing masks and face shields for 7 hours in 90 degree weather. This truly goes to show how strong the Powerlifting community is, and how much love and respect goes into it.

 

I am entering my 8th year as a competitor. During that time, I have personally competed in 15 competitions, and I have either attended and/or helped individuals in another 15 or so events. The more meets that I attend, and the more mature that I become, the more I understand and appreciate everything that the sport of powerlifting has to offer, and all of the people whom I’ve had the opportunity of meeting in the process. On the surface, powerlifting may look like a bunch of meat heads with low IQs walking around sweating, grunting, and yelling absurd statements just so they can pick something up one time and then put it down. However, if you dig deeper and spend some quality time in the community, you will meet some of the most genuine people who you’ve ever encountered, and you will witness first hand how powerlifting can help you become better in every aspect of life.

 

In powerlifting, you have to develop a plan of action and then take one step each day in order to reach that goal. It’s inevitable that you will encounter crossroads, hardships, and even frustration along the way. Over time, when approached correctly, this will equate to many small victories and lessons learned. Lessons which can not only help you become a better athlete, but can carry over into being better in your career, in your relationships, and within your own self. The best part of this is having the ability to pass on these lessons to other individuals so they can benefit from the same things which you have. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. Living, learning, and passing on.

What the World Needs is More Coaches

What does it mean to be a coach? On the surface a coach can be defined as someone who is helping an individual work towards achieving a goal. This is what most of us think of when we hear the term. However, as we go deeper, we will realize that coaching consists of much more. The ability to coach is within each of us, and it’s something that we need now more than ever.

 

I’ve spent the last 11 years of my life as a coach to athletes, kids, the elderly, and general population individuals. During that time, my focus has always been to first build a connection with each person, and then help them to unlock their full potential with the goal of being able to become their own coach in the future. With coaching, the goal should never be to want people to rely on you in order to achieve those things, but rather possess the ability to learn on their own, and then to pass on those lessons which they have learned throughout the process. In my opinion, this is the true definition of a coach. 

 

The more experienced I become within my career, the more I realize that these actions go far beyond working in a performance setting, but rather a universal setting. In my opinion, coaching is not confined to a certain group of trained professionals, but anyone who has learned from their life’s lessons, and is willing to pass them onto others for the greater good of humanity. Each of us has a skill that distinguishes one person from another. We can use those abilities and skills to help coach others to work towards a better, more knowledgable version of theirselves. I strongly believe that this is the ultimate goal of life. It’s what we are here to do. Today, we need quality coaches more than ever. So, ask yourself “How can I help, and what things have I learned that I can pass onto others to help them become a better version of who they are?”. If we can all do this, we will be great.

Bootcamp and Beers

Great people of Union,

 

I come to you electrified with great tidings of events to come! We are so happy to see you all safely return to Union and want to do a little something something to celebrate our members, friends of members and our community with two upcoming events.

 

The first event will start your 4th of July off with a BOOM! Here at UF’s outdoor location we will have an hour long, fun filled Charity Super Class led by Curtis, CeJ and a few special guests coaches. The class will start at 9am, we will toss some weights around, jump, throw medicine balls, carry bars, sprint and much much more. So please feel free to bring a friend, brag about this event on your social media and rock your best 4th of July workout gear. We will be taking any and all donations for………..Wounded Warrior.

 

Our next event “UF & ACB Bootcamp & Beers” will be held at Allegheny City Brewing July 11th from 11am-12pm. A few of your favorite UF Coaches have paired up with ACB to bring you a Saturday morning get you right bootcamp class, that any and all our welcomed, you just have to be 21 or older to enjoy some tasty libations after the class. If you are interested in this class please just give us a heads up or surprise us and show up, no matter what we will be ready to get bumpy then safely cheers some glasses afterwards. We will be asking for canned food items to donate to our local food bank, no money for the class is needed, just a positive attitude and your smiling faces!

 

Thank you for making UF so strong and building a community.

 

Cheers,

 

CeJ

Four pillars: Training

Disclaimer: There is a big distinction that I want to make when you read this article. To accomplish any goal you must work hard but doing pointless work for the sake of working hard is dangerous. Hard work does not need to be complicated but precise and consistent.

 

This training article is not going to be about how I believe everyone needs to be a “beast”. There are enough videos out there that yell at you for an hour telling you to work harder. This article does not address what the best program is either. If must know I believe 5/3/1 is, simply because it’s easy to follow.

 

Of course, I believe that a good program helps to achieve a goal but the real challenge is to recover from that program. Hence why the first two pillars are about recovery. I truly mean a challenge. It is psychologically and physically challenging to recover better. It takes time and self-discipline. Now how to address programming.

 

Training needs to be simple. The more complex the program is the more room for error on your part. Most people do not need an intricate program with the latest research. Yes, I believe that some programs are better than others but what I mean is when you are starting out, make the simplest program ever. By simple I mean you are going to come in and do 3×20 on leg press and hamstring curls. Done. That’s a wrap for the day. Now, what are you doing tomorrow? The easier this program is, the more likely you are going to do it for a long period of time. The length of time following a program is far more important than the intensity of the program.

 

 

Injuries will slow you down. Injuries are inevitable no matter what level you are at, how long you have been doing it, or the intensity that you bring. What I believe to be far more controllable is the severity and length of the injury. Most people can remember that their shoulder felt weird that day when they decided to max out. Or when you woke up and your back wasn’t fully prime for that hard deadlift day. You probably did the workout anyway because you are no (whatever word you choose) and now your back/shoulder has been hurting. Congrats.

 

Here is another idea. Do the things that specifically only make your body feel good. If the pain or aggravation persists go see a doctor or physical therapist but what do they know. People know that I am bias towards physical therapist but a good therapist can help tremendously in keeping you on the path to accomplish your goal. Now ideally you have a program that has certain warm-up exercises or assistant exercises that will help the reduce severity of an injury that was to come.

 

Your primary focus should be on your weakness. Again the program doesn’t need the most complex excel sheet you can find but it does need to work on your weak points as the focus. In my case, my hamstrings are not a strong point for me. They have no idea what they are doing and are constantly sore. Hamstring exercises have always been in my programs but not to the extent they should have been. When I currently train legs  ¾ of the workout are now hamstring focus and my back has thanked me for it. This is where a coach, personal trainer, or training partner can be a tremendous help. One of these people should let you know what “thing” needs to focus on.

Why Team?

When I was younger nothing stuck for me, it wasn’t until my mother forced me into swimming that I eventually learned to love it. I started on a summer swim team, it was an outdoor pool and this less than 100lb girl would shiver like no other, my lips were blue and I was always and I mean always cold at practice. It was so bad that my mother had to buy me a wetsuit just so I could withstand an hour plus of practice. The Colby Sailfish is what started it all for me and from there my parents decided to put me into winter swimming, I remember it being a huge deal and caused so much drama. Back then moving from summer swimming to winter meant you wanted to be more competitive and looking back I realized if that never would have happened then I wouldn’t have been as competitive as I am today.

 

Swimming was a big part of my life and it helped me learn the importance of routine and structure. I followed swimming with cross-county and paired those together for the remainder of my school years. It didn’t leave much room for anything else but my life was sports and for as long as I can remember, even at 27 thats how it has always been. I’ve always enjoyed putting my all into something that gave me results based upon what I put in, it was entirely up to me and how hard I wanted to work. It showed me that work ethic didn’t throw out favors and it didn’t give away trophies for participation, there was a clear winner based upon time that was spent grinding.

 

My biggest takeaway from swimming was relays, it didn’t occur to me until later in life that I absolutely enjoyed the rush of being on a team consisting of four people. I’d always push myself harder, I’d swim faster and I’d leave it all out there in the pool for my teammates. This translated fluidly to when I started competing in the sport of Functional Fitness, being on a team consisting on two males and two females took pushing myself to a whole new level. In all my years of being an athlete I have never pushed myself to the point I continue to push myself on a day to day basis with my current teammates. 

 

This is why I think playing sports when you are younger is so important, it truly is part of what makes you who you are in this present moment. It teaches you things that you will carry throughout your life and give you skills that you can apply to many situations that aren’t even closely related to sports. When I was put on a relay in swimming I knew that I had a part to play in the outcome and with that being said, in life you play a part alongside many people. This can be your relationship, as a daughter, brother or sister, it could be as a parent or a coach. We are all constantly surrounded by opportunities to showcase our ability to work within a social structure and create something beautiful alongside others.

 

So, to answer the title of this blog, why team? I think it all comes down to being able to share something greater than yourself with other people. When working within a team generally you know your teammates abilities and they know yours so you’re able to jump in when they need a break and vise-versa. To be able to have this understanding amongst three other people is so rare and to even be able to communicate in such a way that you all understand what each individual is feeling is a learned skill from your younger years of competing. 

 

At the end of the day I absolutely love being on a team, it has given me a sense of belonging in a world that makes it so hard to be yourself. It’s also more than a team, they are your friends, your family, not because you spend so much time together but because you truly do care about each individual. I think I’ll always choose to be on a team in every aspect of my life, not just my athletic pursuits. If the life lessons of team sports taught me this much that it carried through till my 27th year around the sun then there is something to be said about the kind of person you turn into when you learn to let people help you and they let you help them in return.

 

Much love,

 

Jocelyn

Understanding the Basics of a Training Program: Part 1

Designing or following a training program can be challenging in its own ways. Different words, numbers, and exercises, all have a specific purpose and need to be incorporated correctly. Today we are going to go over a few of the major aspects of a training program that will benefit anyone, regardless of experience level or goals.

 

Main movement:

 

The main movement is the first movement of the day after completing your warm up. This will consist of a squatting, pressing, or deadlifting variation, and sometimes can also consist of a power variation including the snatch or clean. This movement is the priority of the day and will dictate the rest of the training session. It is important to understand that the main movement should demand a great deal of focus and dedication. These are the movements that are the foundation of your training program, and require the most attention to detail.

 

Assistance movements:

 

Assistance work is directly intended to “assist” the main movement. If you have a very noticeable weakness that is showing through your main movement, then your assistance exercises should be selected accordingly in order to correct that weakness. Assistance exercises are typically in the form of variations of the main movement, and should be performed once the main movement is finished. For example, If your main movement is a barbell back squat, but you noticed that you were getting loose when coming out of the bottom, then your assistance movement could be something along the lines of a paused squat, with an emphasis on keeping full body tension and positioning.

 

Accessories:

 

Accessory exercises should come later in the workout and are intended to build the areas that are used to perform the main movement of the training session. They usually come in the form of isolation or “bodybuilding” exercises such as dumbbell work, machines, and bodyweight variations. Think of these as your shield of armor. They are intended to “bulletproof” your body by building muscle and staying injury free by developing overall balance.

 

Volume:

 

Volume is the measurement of the total amount of work performed. It is typically calculated in the form of sets x reps x weight. Tracking volume can be very important in the overall effectiveness of your training program. If your total volume is too high, then you might have a hard time recovering from session to session, or at worst, it could lead to injury. If your total volume is not enough, then you will have trouble getting the stimulus needed to progress. Keep an eye on your volume, see how you feel and how you respond, and make adjustments as needed.

 

Intensity:

 

Generally, training intensity refers to the amount of effort that you are putting into whatever movement or exercise that you are performing. When performing a barbell movement, intensity refers to the amount of weight or “load” that is being lifted. We often see this written in the form of weight, or in a percentage of a one rep max. Like volume, intensity is also very important to keep an eye on. The point is to produce the necessary amount of stimulus in order to acquire progression. Too much intensity too often and you risk over-training and injury. Too little and you risk a lack of progress.

 

Stay tuned for Part 2 as we dive in a little deeper.

 

 

UF Adventure Team

For those of you who couldn’t join us last Saturday we had a fun day of outdoor exercise and showed our new expansion (The Performance Lab). We here at UF are happy to be expanding our services to all of our members. One area I am hoping to see growth is our outdoor activities.

 

One of the events we had last weekend was the first ever UF bike ride. It was a small affair with 4 riders, but an active and fun group. We rode our bikes from here through the Northside and into the strip district for a nice tour of our fine city. The ride consisted of a few nice little climbs but nothing too bad.

 

I hope events such as this ride become a more normal activity here at UF. With all that we as a society have been through in the last three months let’s all try to get outside more. Find ways to connect with your community and see the beauty in the world. My challenge to UF is to find ways to be active, while remaining safe and healthy.

 

Thank you all for what you do, and if you have new ideas as to how we can get outside and be better people, neighbors and friends please tell us.

 

Peace and Love,

 

Todd Hamer

Welcome to the NEW UF

Union Family & friends,

 

We are pumped to see your smiling masked faces and tossing around all of the elbow bumps as we get back into the kettlebell swing of things.

 

We have great news, huge news, the best news coming your way, Saturday 13th from 9am-3pm we will be having a day of outside socially distanced classes to show off our addition to our main UF location. “What will be there President Bumps-a-Lot?” Well let me tell you my friends, we will have Pittsburgh’s DJ truck providing jams, Fit Fresh Kitchen meals, Come Ready Protein Drinks and You of course! “Wow, how cool, tell me more”! You got it buddy, check out the schedule below and come get bumpy with all your favorite UF Coaches.

 

Saturdays are for Social Distance and Getting Bumpy

 

9am: Powerful w/CeJ

 

10am: Yoga

 

11am: Cardio Lab

 

12pm: Powerful w/Curty

 

12pm: Yoga on the Lawn

 

1pm: Bootcamp

 

2pm: Yoga

 

2pm: Bike Adventures w/Hamer (BYOB) (Bring Your Own Bike)

 

We are very excited to show off our new space and have our UF family back together, so excited that if you want to bring a friend, please do (just give us a heads up please). We will also use this time to come together and donate to the Pittsburgh Food Bank, any canned goods are welcomed and appreciated. Any of our members that are business owners and would like to join us in this event please reach out.

 

Let’s have some fun, stay safe and come together as a UF community.

 

Cheers,

CeJ

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. 🙂