injury tips

4 Tips to Stop Hurting Yourself

Many people will experience some sort of an injury from exercise, and a lot of the common injuries that come up during our consultations can be avoided by taking a few simple precautions.

#1 – Stretch & Foam Roll (With Purpose) Before Training

I used to be the queen of not stretching before training.  I would walk into the gym and hit the weights.  Well, I don’t know if I can blame it on getting older, or just taking my training more seriously, but those aches and pains that shouldn’t be there started following me around day in and day out.  I finally made a change and now spend 15-20 minutes before each training session just rolling and stretching.  When I have legs, I am loving on that foam roller like you wouldn’t believe, practically crying from how tight my legs have become just since the day prior.  I pull out my lacrosse ball from some extra glute work when needed, and then always do about 5 minutes of various hip stretches.  When I walk towards the weights, I am feeling good and able to get more depth with my squats and deadlifts, push a little heavier, and always end up with a much better workout, and most importantly, a pain free workout.

Takeaway: Budget 15-20 minutes to prepare for your lifting session

#2 – Know the Difference Between Good Pain & Bad Pain

When you go to the doctor and try to explain a stomach ache, they always ask if the pain is dull, achy, stabbing, etc.  Thinking about these things during training is also valuable.  If the pain is burning (think about your quads during Bulgarian split squats), then that is good pain.  Feeling sharpness in your knee during Bulgarian splits squats, however, is bad pain.

Here are some keys to know whether the pain is good or bad.  Are you feeling a burning pain in the muscle you are trying to work?  This is good and likely from lactic acid buildup.  How about sharp pain – sharp pain anywhere is not a good thing.  For me, I run across this when doing particular shoulder movements (I have some long-lasting issues from playing water polo in high school and college).  So, I don’t fret, I just make a change – I could change the weight, change the movement, change the hand position – there are multiple things I can do to alter the movement and still get a great workout that’s free from the wrong kind of pain.

Takeaway:  Listen to your body and be adaptable.

#3 – Don’t Try to Compete in the Weight Room

Is the person next to you deadlifting 50lbs more than you?  Well, good for them, but don’t try to copy them.  I had this conversation with a friend of mine the other day and they told me how much the squat.  It was a lot more than me, and I told them no way, no how could I squat that much and I wasn’t about to try.  Why?  Because I know my body and its limitations.  I also know that this friend weighs more than me which usually means that they have the capacity to lift more than me.

Worry about you, not someone else.  Lift what you can lift and always work towards your own personal PR’s – forget about the person next to you and their PR.

Takeaway: The only person you should be trying to out lift is yourself.

#4 – Move More on a Daily Basis

This one seems so simple, yet is so often neglected.  There is a reason that the term “Desk Jockey Syndrome” has become so popular.  We, as a population, sit  . . . a lot.  Some of this is because of our work, and some is because of habit (where’s the remote?).  Regardless, this hunched over, unsupported lower back, sitting on our ass all day phenomenon has created poor postures, weak glutes, weak core, rounded shoulders, and aches and pains where there shouldn’t be.  We are seeing it more and more with standing desk stations now, or the fitbit that tells you to take a quick lap around the office.  The theme is the same  – stand up, walk some, move your muscles so they don’t get so tight and stiff.  If you don’t have the option to use a standing desk (say you are a driver for a living), then take the opportunities you do have to move.  Park farther away at the grocery store and walk, use the stairs instead of the elevator, be active while you are watching your favorite night-time show, whatever.

Takeaway:  This one is simple, MOVE.

excessive training

Trainers: Stop Killing Your Client

There is a trend in the personal training industry right now where workouts are simply competitions to see who can tolerate the most punishment, whether it serves a purpose or not (other than bragging rights).

I was recently at a commercial gym with a friend and we decided to take a heated yoga class with incorporated cardio – we were intrigued and both have a good fitness capacity, so we figured “Why not?” About halfway into the class, the instructor had us doing some crazy plyometric something or other for 48 rounds . . . yes, 48. Even the instructor couldn’t do all of the rounds. When did it become normal, or okay, to create a workout so challenging that no one could complete it (okay, maybe not no one – I am sure there are those anomalies). It got me thinking, what does this actually accomplish? I get it though. If you cannot complete the workout as prescribed, then you must suck and therefore come back next week and the next week until you get it – makes sense considering they are trying to make money off of your misfortune.

There is yet another problem with running clients into the ground. Let’s use the example of this class again. We were doing plyometric cycling split squats (don’t bother searching YouTube for it… I’m pretty sure it was named by drawing a series of adjectives out of a hat) combined with jump squats. If I, someone who is athletic, had trouble completing these, how about someone who is overweight and still building up their fitness level? Now, we have not only the feeling of failure, but also the likelihood that they will hurt themselves by performing movements that their joints are not (and do not need to be) accustomed to. Where is the regression? Where is creating an environment that utilizes effective movements while preventing injury? Trust me – that room was heated to 95 degrees – we didn’t need to do all of the crazy stuff to break a sweat.

People are brainwashed to think “No pain, no gain” and that you have to be literally on the verge of death in order to have a “good workout”. These philosophies couldn’t be further from the truth. You CAN have an effective workout and live to tell about it. You CAN walk out of the gym and feel good about what you accomplished, and you CAN continue to progress towards realistic goals. The thing of it is . . . you CAN. Stop subjecting yourself to workouts that the instructor cannot even complete, set yourself up for success.

At All Strength Training, we design workouts to be efficient and effective. Key word – Effective: successful in producing a desired or intended result. If your intended results was to fall on your face and feel like a failure – congratulations, you did it! If your desired result is to make progress with your physique, get stronger for the gym and life, and feel awesome about training session, then your approach should be different.

Train smart. Don’t underestimate recovery. Fuel your body. Relish in your Results.

When the Body Takes Over

Underneath the Surface: Life with GI Problems

I have been wanting to write about this for quite some time, but have always came up with excuses to hold off – I am a horrible writer, I ramble, I can’t tell the difference between 1st person and 3rd person – you get the idea.

I have always prided myself on being an open book about pretty much everything, and this particular part of my life has been all-consuming for the past 2 decades.  I have had gut issues that cause me severe pain since I was 14 years old.  I remember frequently laying on our brown corduroy couch where I would push from my ribcage down to my pelvic bone and you could hear “bubbles” popping, moving.  It was the weirdest sensation (and one that I still encounter).  I didn’t know what those “bubbles” were, but I knew that they hurt and that if I could move them around with the pressure of my hands, I would get a smidge of relief.

When I was 21 years old, I ended up in the Emergency room, still without answers as to why the pain would sometimes bring me to my knees.  On that particular incident, I was folded over unable to stand up straight with such sharp pains that it was near impossible to get a deep breath.  Doctors gave me fluids and sent me on my way.

As I got older and finished my degree in Exercise Science, I wanted to learn more and more about the body, nutrition, and what ailment I could be dealing with.  In 2011, I chose to try eating gluten and dairy free, which helped, but didn’t completely alleviate, my symptoms.  In 2013, someone in my life was diagnosed with Chron’s disease and I decided that I was on a mission to finally figure out what on earth is wrong with me.  Why can I feel ok one minute and be bloated to looking 5 months pregnant the next?  Why would I have constipation that lasted days on end even though I ate clean, kept fiber where it should be, and stayed hydrated?  Why do I have chronic inflammation and subcutaneous water retention that comes and goes as it pleases?  Just . . . why?

So, in March 2014 I had a colonoscopy and endoscopy and was diagnosed with Celiac disease.  This was a very odd diagnosis considering I had been 100% gluten free for years – even the doctor was baffled that I had obvious remnants in my system.  Since gluten had already been removed, I asked the doctor what else could be causing me so much pain.  I received the notorious answer . . . “IBS, here is a prescription for your constipation”.  In my world, I call IBS “I Bull Shit”.  I believe that there is always some underlying issue or stress or something that causes the symptoms and that no one should just roll over and accept them as normal.

In the summer of 2014, I began to work with a Functional Medicine Practitioner from the United Kingdom.  We ran a stool test and found that I had SIBO (small intestinal bacteria overgrowth) which we eradicated with natural remedies.  I also followed with an elimination diet where I ate a total of 10 different foods for 30 days.  The first 2 weeks I felt amazing!  And the second 2 weeks I was in pure agony, curled over in pain for most of it.  It made no sense – how could I feel so great and then feel so awful without changing a single thing.

If you’re not sure how dramatic the changes can be, here you go.

Gut Before & After

The picture on the left is a bad day, the picture on the right is a good day.  Could be hours apart, maybe a day or two.

In January 2015, my inflammation and weight gain went a bit haywire regardless of no change in my training or diet.  So, in May 2015, I began working with an acupuncturist who decreased my training volume drastically, took out all vegetables, and had me eating over 70% of my diet as starchy carbs.  Sure enough, I dropped the weight and started to feel a little better.  This lasted for a few months until my gut started to hurt again and I stopped responding to the acupuncture and herbs.  So, I began working with yet another doctor in December 2015.

Currently, I am working with both a local doctor and the one in the United Kingdom still searching for answers.  It was recently confirmed that I have a large intestinal bacterial infection as well as a small intestine infection and was put on a 2 week course of antibiotics.  Needless to say, I don’t feel any better and the doctor’s suspect that I did not eradicate the infections . . . and that is where I am today.

Why was this so important for me to share?  I want my clients, my friends, my family, to know that I get it.  I get what it feels like to fight what feels like a losing battle.  I understand how hard it is to keep trying to find answers when all you want to do is give up.  I know what 1 step forward, 2 steps back feels like.  I wanted to tell me story so that others might have some hope to get up and keep fighting, keep looking for answers.  I have to believe that there is healing and that this is not my destiny, and I hope that if you are dealing with your own struggles that you keep fighting too.

surviving the holidays healthy eating

4 Quick Tips for Surviving (and Thriving) During the Holidays

surviving the holidays healthy eating

I am sure “Surviving the Holidays” is probably the #1 searched thing on google at this time of year.  Luckily you don’t have to spend time sifting through all the other stuff out there, you have me!  So, let’s get right to it, shall we?

Step 1: This is not feast or famine.  I read a book recently called “It’s Not About the Broccoli” about how to teach your children good eating habits and one of the concepts was to teach your child to be a good taster (you can buy it here if you want.  Don’t expect your child to clear the plate with a new food, just have them be comfortable tasting it.  The same is true of adults.  Tasting a food still lets you enjoy mom’s homemade cookies and the moist pumpkin bread that only comes around this time of year, but doesn’t require you to eat an entire pan of cookies or the whole loaf of bread.

Step 2: Eat slowly.  The food is not going to run away on you, so take your time eating and enjoying it.  The majority of people who find that they overeat do so because they eat quickly.  Slow it down, savor it, chat with friends and socialize between bites.

Step 3: Mindset is HUGE.  If you expect to gain 10 pounds over the holidays, then you probably will simply because you tell yourself “Well, it’s inevitable, so I might as well scarf it down and enjoy it”.  Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but it is not inevitable.  Be smart, just as you would throughout the rest of the year.  If you know you are going to a holiday party tonight, then plan on eating more protein and greens during the day in anticipation.  We talk about balance all year long, what makes the holidays any different?

Step 4: Enjoy yourself.  This is a special time of year to enjoy time with family and friends, so give yourself some grace.  Our children had a request this year – “Mom, can you and dad stay home this Christmas and not go to the gym to workout”.  Yes, even we fall into the trap of We can’t miss a day at the gym!  You know what?  Family is more important and experiences are more important than extra training or 1 missed workout.  Get over it, move on, and know that the gym will be there another day.

3 Keys to Overcoming Roadblocks

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Doing a photo shoot has always been one of those things that I thought was for “other people”. I always had excuse after excuse of why I could never do one – I will never have the right body, I completely lack the confidence, and what if I get bloated the day before! I never set out to do a shoot, it just kind of . . . happened.

#1: It sounds cliché, but don’t give up

After having my third child in February 2013, I remember driving home from the gym hyperventilating between tears. I felt chunky, fat, weak, and all of the other self-sabotaging emotions. I couldn’t even visualize being fit again, let alone seeing my abs. For the next several months, I took it a day at a time. Some days I would feel strong and in control of my food. Other days I would put away a half gallon of ice cream and brownies while feeling like an utter failure. I made a resolution – Have more good days than bad. I wasn’t telling myself it was OK to screw up, but I WAS telling myself not to feel guilty when I did. I was being real. I knew that if I started having more good days than bad, the body I wanted would follow. At that point, my goal wasn’t about a number on a scale or a percent of body fat, it was about not giving up. I did not see a photo shoot as the light at the end of the tunnel, but persistence made it happen. Focus on an action, not a result – you can control the action.

#2: Partner with the Right Coach for YOU

I have had three coaches in the past 18 months. Although all of them were great, credentialed, and produce results, I had to find the one that was the perfect fit . . . for ME. By the third coach, I had found a coach that I could partner with, could ask anything, tell him anything, could be honest and feel no reason to hide anything. I trust him. He has never shamed me or made me feel guilty when I mess up. I respect him, and because of that, I push myself harder in the gym, eat more mindfully, and definitely have more good days than bad. He holds me accountable, and I want to be able to tell him “I killed that workout”.

The value of having an honest relationship with my coach is immeasurable. At one point, I had told him that I had been feeling run down and weak. This feeling persisted for quite a while. He listened and had me de-load my training for a week. He didn’t shame me, he told me I NEEDED to and required me to have a week in the gym where I just had fun. He listened to me and listened to my body. Because of our partnership and full disclosure relationship, he knew I was being 100% honest which allowed him to do his job – take care of me and my body.

My coach has always had my best interest at heart and isn’t afraid to tell me “no”. I sent him a picture of my ideal look and he did not respond with “Sure, let’s do it!” He responded with a challenge, “Take a step back. All of that is wonderful and very good, but needs to be done from a place of self growth, and self love. Not out of a place of pure dissatisfaction and not loving yourself” and a bit of brutal honesty “If I’m being very honest, her body fat percentage is likely messing with her cycle (non-existent). You can maintain NOT FAR off of that. In my opinion, she’s a bit TOO lean to be walking around like that all the time. Some people are genetic freaks – but she’s not one of them haha.”
See – best interest at heart. Conversations like these let you know you have a good coach.

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#3: Understanding Needs vs. Wants

It takes time to get to know your body, to understand hunger versus stress, understand muscular fatigue versus emotional exhaustion. It takes time to know when it is OK to have a “cheat” meal and when it is not. It takes practice listening to your body. The ultimate goal is to learn to understand what your body needs versus what you want. As my coach did, he told me to take a de-load week because my body NEEDED it, not because I was bitching and moaning and asked for it.

How do you know when you grasped need versus want? The guilt is removed. If you justify having a donut, but know deep down you shouldn’t, there will be a tinge of guilt attached. Conversely, if you take a day off from the gym because you know yourself well enough to know that your body is zonked and needs a break – there won’t be guilt because you are educated enough to recognize the signs your body is giving off. This understanding goes hand in hand with having a good partnership with a coach. Until you understand your bodies feedback, a good coach can help you interpret what you are feeling.

Deciphering your bodies needs versus wants takes time – but once you grasp it, you will be unstoppable.

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I never set out to do a photo shoot, but taking things one step at a time allowed me to get photo ready without crash dieting or over-stressing about it. Give yourself realistic action-based goals, find a coach that you trust, and get real with yourself.

For more about my background and struggles, stayed tuned for more updates.

Fighting the Moment

“No one has ever been raped by a donut” – Charles Poliquin

The other night, I was craving berries like crazy.  My mouth was watering and I could not put the thought out of my head.  I looked in the fridge and there were none.  I had two options. #1, I could throw on my boots and coat and head to the store to grab some, or #2, I could find something else to eat and go to bed.  I opted for choice #2.  I grabbed a handful of nuts and dried fruit, brushed my teeth, and went to bed.  When I woke up in the morning, the most amazing thing happened.  I was not dead!

In today’s world, we make eating food about more than just nourishing the body.  We crave food, whether for emotional reasons, social settings, or hormonal reasons – we want what we want.  I use to give in as well, and to be honest, sometimes I still do.  What I have learned over time though is that it all boils down to one simple thing, fighting the moment.  Say you are at a holiday party and there are brownies, cookies, and cakes in an assortment in front of you.  You could take one . . . or, you could grab the fruit bowl next to the desserts and enjoy that instead.  Grab the fruit, because I guarantee you that you will still be alive when you leave the party, and probably feeling better and in control because you were able to stand up to the food craving and fight the moment.  Plus, once the junk food is out of site and your stomach is no longer grumbling, the moment has passed and you have dominated it.

Here is the battle I see in a lot of people.  You have the desire to eat better, to feel better, lose weight, or put on lean mass.  You go full throttle ahead and determine that you are going to eat healthier.  You go out with friends who are drinking and enjoying the greasy buffalo wings with ranch dressing.  “Well, I have eaten good the rest of the day, I can have some wings.  It isn’t much”.  Then, in the morning, you are running out the door for work and have no time to eat.  By the time you get to the office, you are so hungry that you reach for the donut in the break room.  You justify it by telling yourself that you will eat better for the rest of the day.  You have an apple with some nuts for a morning snack, chicken salad for lunch, and the day is looking great.  Then, you meet up with a friend for afternoon coffee and because the friend is grabbing a piece of coffee cake, you do too.  Are you beginning to see the trend?  Even with good intentions, before you know it, you are right back to where you were before.  Eating what you crave, and not what is best for your body or your goals.

Last night, I picked up my boys from daycare and then we ran some errands.  They ate some Poliquin Primal Bars while we went from place to place.  Before I realized, it was late and getting close to their bedtime, and they were hungry.  I gave them an Isopure smoothie to share while we finished our way home and then reheated some fish for them for dinner.  On the way home, I passed Wendy’s, Burger King, Dominos, Little Ceasars, Subway, McDonalds, and who knows how many other “options”.  Sure it was tempting to stop off, but it was fighting those series of moment’s that got us home, without any fast food.

If you don’t make the decision to fight the moment, then you are going to forever be in the vicious circle of wanting your body to be a certain way and never reaching it.  It is your decision – just know that you can fight the moment.  You are in control.  Do not let a moment of weakness take you away from your goal.  It is just one moment in the large scheme of things.  One moment.