Tag Archives: morning

My Five

I feel like its been a hot minute since I last wrote a blog and whilst I normally have something to say in regards to nutrition, training or even mental wellness today I’m taking a different approach. I’m going to throw at you five things I cannot possible live without, this is in regards to every aspect of my life and a little “get to know me” type of post if you’re new to Union Fitness and have no idea who that blonde chick in the Birkenstock’s is.

 

My Five

 

Coffee: I’m a huge advocate for letting your body wake up naturally rather then jump out of bed and literally run for the freshly made pot waiting for you on the counter. However, there is nothing like it when I take that first sip in the morning, I truly do go to bed thinking about that initial cup of coffee. I will argue that Starbucks is consistently just okay and I’d much rather opt in for a small business brew that has been locally sourced.

 

Breakfast Food: I don’t know about any of y’all but I could eat breakfast at all hours of the day, I mean its basically an excuse to eat dessert at 8AM in the morning. I’d say my favorite breakfast meal that I don’t normally get to eat would be a crepes with a Nutella spread, bananas + strawberries doused in maple syrup (because I’m also Canadian, duh).

 

The Gym: Pretty sure a lot of people feel me here, especially post-quarantine I realized how much of my socializing in life comes from the gym atmosphere. Not only is it a huge hobby of mine it’s also my job and I’m very thankful to be able to do what I love on a day to day basis. The gym has allowed me to grow immensely over the past six years and within the last three, getting more involved in the competitive aspect I’ve truly learned how important it is to love the process and love the day in/day out mentality.

 

Leggings: I’m getting pretty basic here with my top five but if I’m being real with you, I own two pairs of jeans and thats 100% the truth. Leggings are my work, workout and life choice of clothing and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I despise clothes that are tight and especially during specific times of the year sometimes I really just hate clothes and would much rather live on a private island so I could wear a bikini all day long.

 

Ice Cream: Hands down would do absolutely anything (that is legal) for Ben & Jerrys. I’m a fan of chocolate Halo Top but lets be honest, if I’m going to have ice cream I’m going to eat the real stuff, even if a lot of dairy hurts my stomach. I’m just a huge ice cream girl, I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner and a whole pint in one sitting, truly wondering if maybe I could handle another. Name a better ice cream company, I’ll wait….

 

As generic as my answers are they are so truthful, my life is super boring and primarily revolves around work, training, eating and sleeping but honestly I wouldn’t have it any other way. So, now that I’ve told you all my five, I’m nominating my fellow co-worker Cayt Neff to white about her five things she can’t live without!

 

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. 🙂

 

 

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/

How to Be a Morning Person

How to Be a Morning Person

Slay the Day
It’s March in Pittsburgh, which means the weather is hit or miss. It’s likely crisp in the mornings with a light covering of frost on your car, and the thought of begrudgingly dragging your body out of the warmth and coziness of your bed at the crack of dawn is the last thing on your mind. However, getting up and moving can be a remarkable way to start the day. Disagree? Just think about trekking to the gym after a long day at the office when all you want to do is get home, sounds equally as bad, or worse if you’re me! Here are a few hacks from the experts at Union Fitness that will stop you from hitting snooze, turn you into a morning person, and get you up and at ‘em.

  1. Keep your alarm clock across your room, way across your room, forcing yourself to roll out of bed and stay out of bed.
  2. Pack your bags at night and leave it by your door so you can leave your home within minutes. No rushing around in the wee hours of the morning picking out clothes and remembering to grab deodorant.

Gear

  1. But first coffee. Set that pot at night and wake up to the delicious aroma of your favorite blend brewing blissfully away in your kitchen.
  2. Sleep in your workout clothes and put your sneaks right next to your bed. No excuses.
  3. Accountability is key. Sign up for a class. If there are consequences other than shame, even more incentive to get up and go.
  4. Unplug early. Not only is this good for your mind, but studies show that unplugging from electronic devices before bed can improve both the quality and quantity of your sleep. A good night’s rest will make it easier to rise in the A.M.
  5. Set a glass of lemon water on your nightstand and gulp it down when your alarm goes off. Dehydration begins in your sleep and there is nothing quite as refreshing and energizing as a tall glass of water in the morning. Additionally, lemon water aids in digestion, keeps you hydrated, is weight-loss friendly, prevents oxidation, gives you a vitamin c and potassium boost, and helps prevent kidney stones! Who knew that such an easy habit can bestow one with so many benefits!

Lemons

  1. Treat yo self! That’s right, give yourself a small reward for getting up and going to the gym in the morning. Isn’t it a little bit easier to get up knowing that there’s a lil somethin’ somethin’ coming your way at the end of a tough morning workout?
  2. Cut the commute. Commit to a gym that is nearby so that you can roll out of bed a little bit later, and also get to work on time. If that isn’t an option, try getting a workout out in that you can do from anywhere.
  3. Remember the results. Set your intentions for the day. Remember what your goals are and what you are working toward.

Yoga