Change

Change is something we can except or fight, regardless we need change to grow.  On a cellular level, change occurs with every breathe.  Change can be scary because it can create turmoil, fear and anxiety about the many possibilities.  But if we can trust ourselves and the path we are following, we could let go of the challenge of change and let it all happen naturally.  

 

What is your core?

      Core is a popular word used these days in referring to reduced pain, fitness and overall wellness.   Core stabilization is essential for proper load balance within the spine and pelvis.  Lack of strength in some of the deeper core musculature means loss of power, loss of technique, and the propensity towards injury.  The “core” is the group of trunk muscles that surround the spine and abdomen.   This is where we generate, absorb, and transfer forces to and from our extremities.  So in a sense, the “core rage” is smart because working your core is the most important training you can do for your body!

What’s better, stretching through Yoga or strengthening through Pilates?  

It depends on your particular balance of muscle strength and flexibility.  Yoga is great for flexibility and balance, and pilates is great for building a strong integrated core.  Yoga can be very hard on the body if you are already too flexible as it can cause more instability in the joints.  However some bodies need to lengthen before they can begin to get stronger.   When muscles are too tight, range of motion is decreased, leading to decreased performance and increased injury risk.  It is important to discover where you are tight and where you are weak, then build a program around these areas of concern.  Pilates is a great place to start, because it is generally gentle enough for a beginner and can also be very challenging for someone who is more advanced. 

The following exercises are a great start to getting the core and hips more stable and stronger.  For some these may be very challenging, and that is fine.  Do what you can and improve each week with practice.  For others, this may be too easy, and that is great because you are now ready to move into more functional movement exercises.

How do you stabilize your core?

Lay on your back and bend your knees, feet flat on the floor.  Place the fingers on the hip bones then move 1/3 the way in towards the belly button. Pull the belly button into the spine, and flex the abdomen muscles.  While engaging the core muscles, hold for one minute, while focusing on breathing.  Let the side and back of your lungs fill with air while keeping the front of your ribs knitted in and not pushing up. This should begin to feel natural.  Engaging your core should not cause you to stop breathing.  Now practice this exercise while standing, brushing your teeth or walking up the steps.  

Training starts with the basics

Basic Strength - First Workout

When first returning to working out after that rather longer than suspected break, its important to start at the beginning. Even if I have taken a break for a few weeks, I always return to basic strength.  Its an excellent way to measure strength gains or loss, endurance, recovery time, proper form with or without pain, agility and balance.  Having a first workout that you can always refer to will also help you to motivate, because when you walk into the gym for the first time in a while, its a set system you can lean towards.  It is also a safe workout, ensure that you wont pull a muscle or get some awful injury that will keep you out of the gym for the next three months.  Finally, this workout will not make you overly sore, permitting you don't go too heavy on your weights, which can also keep you out of the gym for the rest of the week. Overall, here is my first workout for you.  Let me know how you do and if you have any questions!

First Workout:

Try for 3 sets of 10 reps, either upper to lower switch or right to left then switch

Dumb bell (DB) Squat (or body weight, depending on level of fitness and form)
DB Chest press 

Split Squat (BW or DB) (right then left) - remember chest over knee but back is straight!

DB Single Bent Over Row (right then left side) - Unless you have trouble stabilizing the spine, then use the machine with a straight back or single standing cable row

Hamstring Curl - (Dead lift is great if you are clear on proper form, Ball hamstring Curl is also a great alternative)
Close Grip Pulldowns - focus of the the shoulders pulling back and down, full range of motion, its not the weight that is important here it the range of motion in the shoulder blades

Bench Side to Side - foot on bench the back foot moves up and over the bench (switch) 
Standing Shoulder Press - (DB) keep palms facing the face, do not do anything overhead if have neck or shoulder injury

Standing Bicep Curl DB
Tricep Rope Extensions
Pelvic Thrust with Hip Lifts

Abs: Reps of 20-30
Rollups
Crunches with legs up in the air
Hip lifts with legs in air and hands under butt
Bicycles
Plank

Why AdvoCare

Not to keep throwing out there ‘my time in LA’, but it truly was a learning experience for me.  I started my Masters in Nutrition while I was living there, and man, what a great place to get crazy on fad diets.  I studied every crazy diet under the sun; Madonna’s Macrobiotic diet; No grains; No fruit; Only grapefruit...how about the 40 day lemonade diet?  Yeah, that's healthy! All my studies left me confused and mostly terrified to eat anything at all.  Going to the grocery store was a fearful and frustrating experience. I was convinced that I was bloated because I was lactose and gluten intolerant, and therefore had to cut everything out!  I alternated that response with just not caring and eating anything I wanted, then over-exercising to compensate for my lack of ‘commitment’. It was enough to make a girl crazy! These days, I don't have the time, even if I wanted to over-train.  I am sometimes overwhelmed  with running my business, taking care of my clients, my two children, and my home, and I'm usually the last person that gets tended to.

 

When I learned there was a program out there that actually made nutritional sense and met normal criteria for eating, I was all over trying it out!  With the AdvoCare program,  I love that you can eat any fruit, whole grains, any vegetables, and  lean protein.  During the cleanse phase, alcohol and caramel colored beverages (coffee, black tea and sodas) are prohibited, and nothing bleached, so no white rice or white pasta because it's important that your food consists of clean nutrients. You use common sense as far as portion control and your metabolism gets a boost  through eating three meals and two snacks every day. Then, AdvoCare has these amazing products to help cleanse,          

Cleanse Phase:

On Days 1-10 of the 24-Day Challenge, you will take three products.

Herbal Cleanse System:

The AdvoCare Herbal Cleanse system can help rid your body of waste and prepare the body for optimal nutrient absorption with its unique blend of herbal ingredients.* Using a systematic approach, this 10-day system guides you through the daily steps for thorough internal cleansing and improved digestion.*

Each Herbal Cleanse box includes these two key products: ProBiotic Restore™ capsules and Herbal Cleanse tablets. 

For the complete system, use these two products as well as AdvoCare Fiber for the duration of the 10 days.

OmegaPlex:

The second product you will use in the Cleanse Phase is OmegaPlex®, which is a high-quality blend of essential Omega-3 fatty acids for overall wellness.* Omega-3 fatty acids are essential components of heart, nerve, muscle, skin, bone and immune health. As with all of the AdvoCare products, OmegaPlex® meets high standards for safety and efficacy so you can be sure you are getting some of the purest Omega-3 fatty acids on the market.*

AdvoCare Spark:

AdvoCare Spark® is a unique multi-nutrient system that was developed as a nutritional source of energy and enhanced mental focus.* It's sugar free with more than 20 vitamins, minerals and nutrients that work synergistically to provide a healthy, balanced and effective source of energy that won't overburden or over stimulate your body.*

These three products work to cleanse and prepare your body for the Max Phase, days 11-24.

Note: Do not take thermogenic products (MNS® color packets, ThermoPlus™ and AdvoCare® Slim) while in the Cleanse Phase. 

Other AdvoCare supplements may be continued, although they should be taken at least a couple of hours after the AdvoCare Fiber.

Max Phase:

After completing the Cleanse Phase, it’s time to move into days 11-24: The Max Phase. The Max Phase is about fueling your body in order to achieve maximum results. During this phase you will take three products that work together to provide you with sustained energy, appetite control, core nutrition and overall wellness.

Metabolic Nutrition System™ - MNS®

During the Max Phase, you can choose from three Metabolic Nutrition Systems which all provide sustained energy, appetite control, core nutrition and overall wellness.*

If you’re not sure which system to use, AdvoCare recommends beginning with MNS® 3, which provides you with a foundational level of appetite control and energy.* For a higher level of appetite control you can choose MNS® C, and for more energy you can choose MNS® E*.

All three formulations include: CorePlex® (our multivitamin), OmegaPlex®, ProBiotic Restore™ , thermogenic components and additional wellness supplements.

Meal Replacement Shake:

Skipping meals is a common mistake people make in weight-management or wellness programs. The Meal Replacement Shake is a healthy, delicious solution. Each shake includes 22-24 grams of protein, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 5-6 grams of fiber, 26 vitamins and minerals, and 50 percent of the recommended daily allowance of calcium. They come in several great-tasting flavors.

AdvoCare Spark® (An additional box of AdvoCare Spark® completes the Max Phase.)

Companion products can be used in conjunction with the products that come with your 24-Day Challenge Bundle. Although not officially part of the 24-Day Challenge, these products are fantastic complements to the program and can help target your specific needs.* 

Catalyst:

Catalyst provides a blend of essential branched-chain amino acids and L-glutamine to fuel your body with the muscle-building components it needs.* Catalyst helps repair and protect muscle, and provides the essential amino acids needed to maintain and promote lean body mass, endurance and strength.* Catalyst helps rid the fat and retain muscle when used in combination with a healthy diet, exercise, and other AdvoCare products such as Meal Replacement Shakes or Muscle Gain™.

ThermoPlus:

ThermoPlus® is an innovative weight-loss enhancer that contains key botanical extracts to help support efficient metabolism and suppress appetite.* Together, they provide powerful support for stimulating fat oxidation and healthy metabolism when used in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise.*

Carb-Ease® Plus:

Carb-Ease® Plus is a full-spectrum product that helps support weight management and body composition.* Carb-Ease Plus contains ingredients that help inhibit the breakdown of fats and particular carbohydrate molecules so that the body is less likely to absorb them.* It also helps maintain weight and healthy blood glucose levels by reducing the negative effects of excessive carbohydrate consumption.*

After the 24 Day Challenge:

Generally, I try to stay healthy by eating right and exercising but stress prevails and I don’t make all the best choices so I do the cleanse every three months and it easy and effective to help me lose those extra pounds and rebalance my system.  

Why Drinking More Water Helps To Lose Your Water Weight

When I was working at Equinox in California 2005, the trainers were given an opportunity to use a Hydrostatic Testing (Underwater Weighing) machine.  This is the only way to truly measure your body fat because it uses a two component model which separates the body in two distinct components: 1. bone, muscle and connective tissue (more dense than water) and 2. Body Fat (less dense than water).  Interestingly enough, the hydrostatic testing method has been around for over 50 years and is based on Archimedes principle which states "when a body is submerged in water, there is a buoyant counter force equal to the weight of the water which is displaced”.  

Anyway,  the results were amazing!  I actually got in an argument with a body builder because my body fat was less than his but he looked far leaner than I did.   My body retains water, now body fat too.   But water has always been my nemesis.  No matter what, I will be great about drinking water and eating low sodium foods, then drop off for one day and BAM, I'm back where I started.  FRUSTRATING!

So here is why this happens.  The body cannot “store” water - the body uses its own water for many important functions but expects us to provide a continuous supply of fresh new water regularly to function properly.  When we do not, there becomes an imbalance of sodium and potassium, so the body produces a hormone to try and “retain” water by keeping your kidneys from filtering it.  This seems to be more common among women.  Maybe because we are more hormonal, but that’s for another blog!  

Signs of water retention:

  1. Thinner in the am then you are in the afternoon
  2. Color of your Pee - cloudy or dark
  3. If when pinching the skin, you receive a layer that is not condensed but seems to be more fluid rather than the muscle or fat
  4. Not thirsty all the time
  5. Salty foods do not taste salty

Tips:

  1. Drink water before every meal. Many times dehydration is disguised as hunger.
  2. Check your pee color in the am, then continue drinking water early in the day until your urine is clear.  After that, don’t stop drinking water; just cut back so you don’t exhaust the kidneys.  Avoid drinking too much water in the evenings, so it does not disrupt your sleep schedule. 
  3. Keep your sodium moderate, and replace salt with spices such as garlic, ginger, fresh vegetables, black pepper, chives, cilantro, or low sodium Spike. You’ll find you don’t even miss the salt after a while.
  4. Aim to drink a minimum of 1/2 ounce of water per lb. of body weight per day.                  For example, 100 lbs=50 oz.
  5. Cold or room temperature water, depends mostly on raising your core body temperatures during activity.  I tend to run cold, so I like room temperature water.  Drinking water is the important thing; how you drink it is your choice. 

Importance of drinking water:

  1. Water lubricates joints and organs
  2. It maintains muscle tone
  3. Keeps skin elastic and soft
  4. Water regulates body temperature 
  5. Dilutes and transports impurities to and from cells
  6. Keeps the brain working properly 
  7. Transports nutrients to and from cells
  8. Water helps your liver convert fat into usable energy

AKA Drink More Water :)

Balancing Your Life

Seems impossible, right?  Finding happiness, getting enough sleep, exercising, eating right, enjoying a social life, being a parent, taking classes, improving on your career path -- these are all things that are essential but extremely challenging to find the time to do.  It’s not easy.  I know that there are many times that I feel overwhelmed and tired, and I self-destruct by eating three times the calories than I’ve burned that day.  For me, the key to finding balance is planning and preparing for an effective schedule. 

Schedule your week ahead of time. Go to the grocery store so you have what you need to eat healthy, plan your workouts, tape your shows so you can get adequate sleep, book time with your friends, get a massage.  Figure out what is not working in your schedule and change things around.  If you are oversleeping every time you want to work out than you are not a morning person.  Try working out at a different time like during lunch or in the evening.  It won’t be easy at first, change never is, but it will get easier over time if you are consistent.  “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, after all!  It seems like many of the people I train are looking for a quick fix.  “Can I train three times a day for the next two weeks, to lose the 30 pounds I gained this year?”  If it took you a year to gain them, do you really think you can lose them in a few weeks and keep the weight off?  What is healthy about extreme diets and over exercise?  How can you find balance unless you are healthy?  

I’m no expert on the topic but I continue to try each week to get a little better at obtaining my goals in a way that won’t make me crazy.  I know that one or two workouts a week is a lot better than none.  I know that if I do not go to the store, I will eat fast food.  I know that if I don’t make time with my friends, life gets away from me.  I’m learning how to be a mother; I can’t plan for the sleepless nights, but I can try to nap.  Being a wife, a mom, a business owner, and maintaining a household are all challenging, but I know without taking care of myself everything falls apart.     

Here are a few tips to make things a little easier. 

  • Stay away from processed foods because the sodium count promotes water retention.  When you retain water, it doesn’t matter how much cardio you do, you will not lose weight.  Keep a large bottle of with you all day so you can track how much you drink.  I recommend at least 2 quarts a day.  The coolest thing about drinking water; the more you drink the thirstier you become.  Added bonus to cutting down on processed foods and drinking more water; food will taste salty! 
  • Always eat breakfast within an hour of waking up so you can get your metabolism revved up for the day. Hungry or not, you have to train your body to be hungry.  Once you start eating multiple meals, your body will burn the calories you eat instead of storing them, and you’ll feel hungry more often.  
  • Schedule workout sessions, even brief ones.  Once you have gotten into a regular workout routine, exercise will not seem so challenging, your energy levels will improve, and you may even start enjoying the rush you get when you push your body.  

So you see, as you train your body to do the right things, all you have to do is listen to your body to keep it moving in the right direction.  The struggle to creating balance is just finding the right routine for your life.  Make the time for what you want and put yourself first!

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For many years now, I have wanted to write a blog but never got around to learning how to create one.  I am very excited about sharing with you my philosophies, new exercises, recipes and whatever else floats my boat that week.  I want to begin my blog by thanking Katrina Keane for all the hard work she has invested into rebranding True Balance Studio.  She redesigned the space, website, marketing material, and so much more.  It has been an amazing feeling to have someone look upon True Balance with such great belief in everything we are doing as well as passion to see our studio a great success.  It will never be my goal to become some large corporate chain, merely to create an amazing experience and provide whatever necessary to help those involved.  Katrina’s artistic eye has created a less intimidating, brighter, cleaner, more progressive feel to the studio, which I hope you will want to share with your friends. 

Food for thought… if you are experiencing pain in the upper back and neck area, try stretching your chest.  When the chest muscles are tight in the front, caused by hunching forward over a computer or driving, they strain the muscles in the back by over compensating.  Stand in a door way and hold the wall with your hand and elbow, the shoulder joint to the hand is at 90 degrees or L shape.  Keep the elbow shoulder level.  Slowly and gently turn away from the shoulder until you feel a gentle stretch in the shoulder.  Hold the stretch until you feel it release then go a little deeper into the stretch.  One - two minutes should be sufficient.  

Please join me next week with my new blog and recipe!  Email me any questions or comments so I can include them in the blog.