How "Why Not Now" Started

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How "Why Not Now" Started

When it comes to making fitness a priority, we've told ourselves, "We'll start on Monday," or "It'll be my New Year's resolution."  Well, why not now?  Empower yourself in the present and make it your lifestyle!

Movement

How many of us are in love with fitness, training, rehabilitation, or anything related to the word I try to avoid using: exercise? Okay, I like to call any of the previous terms “movement” because it’s more intentional and it’s something we all need to do not only to survive, but thrive. You don’t need to love to move, but you do need to commit to movement in one form or another. For some of us, it’s because we’re training to perform our best at something. For others, movement may be used to recover from injuries. For most of us, exercise is not natural or enjoyable but we know we need to do it in order to look, feel, and be the best versions of ourselves. Believe it or not, I don’t personally enjoy fitness unless I’m training for a sport or an event. There are a few unique specimens who are passionate and sometimes obsessed with resistance training, running, plyometrics, etc. because it’s fun for them and allows them to reach a state of flow. Flow, aka “the zone”, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. We can discuss that next time as it’s a subject that I’m particularly interested in. For now, let’s stay on task - I’m here to talk about: commitment.

Commitment

“A commitment is falling in love with something and then building a structure of behavior around it for those moments when love falters” - David Brooks’ lecture “The Next Big Challenge In Your Life”

I’m currently falling in love with the idea that I will be a parent soon, but I refuse to have a “dad bod”. My love and commitment has evolved, changed, and failed me several times - and that’s fine. I don’t have sporting events to train for, and I have no interest in training for a recreational event at the moment. In 2016, my commitment was to avoid having surgery to repair my ACL (yes, not having the surgery is an option). My focus was training hard to build the strength and body awareness necessary to have a fully functioning knee without a fully functioning ACL. Life is full of twists and turns and you don’t always have time to prepare for them, and that’s where motivation comes in. Your motivation is dictated by the current challenges you face. Motivation will keep you committed, and most importantly, keep you disciplined enough to keep you moving forward.

A Winning Mindset

Prior to the 2013 season, Russell Wilson inspired the the Seattle Seahawks with the phase “why not us”. In February of 2014, they won their first Super Bowl. Inspired by Russell Wilson, Justine and I came up with P4L’s slogan of “Why Not Now?” Why wait until tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year to focus on your fitness? Or better yet, why wait to commit to something you love? We all have a love for something, and that love will motivate us to stay committed to reaching our goals.


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8 Ways to Be Your Best Self in 2018

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8 Ways to Be Your Best Self in 2018

Happy 2018! Here we are again at the beginning of another year. If you’re not the kind of person to make resolutions, maybe this list can change your mind. The start of a new year is a great time to reflect on the previous year - a time to acknowledge your accomplishments and to begin working towards things that you still want to achieve. For me, the new year is a reset, and a time for appreciation and growth.

Below I’ve listed some guidelines on resetting your body and mind for 2018! (One could also argue that these are ranked by importance)

1. Drink Water.

This seems like an easy one, right? But have you ever truly reaped the many benefits that drinking enough water provides? A good friend of mine would tell me that the answer to all of your maladies is water. If you skin looks tired, drink water. If you’re feeling under the weather, drink water. If you feel a headache coming on, drink water. If you’re feeling lackluster, drink water - you get the point. It is recommended to drink half of your bodyweight in ounces of water daily. For example, a 180lb man or woman should drink 90oz water per day. Give it a go for clearer skin and a clearer mind!

2. Get Enough Sleep.

Here’s another favorite for resolution-ers. We often say that, with every new year, we’re going to sleep more and work less. But with another year gone, here it is again, making it to the top of the list. Sleep is just as crucial for peace of mind and productivity as drinking water. Without enough sleep, or without enough quality sleep, we enter the vicious cycle of relying on other substances to keep us awake, disrupting our natural sleep cycles and throwing our hormones out of whack. This creates a crabby, tired monster who never gets anything done. Let’s stray away from that in 2018.

3. Put Away Your Phone.

This one is tough. I get it. Our cellphones are our connection to the outside world, they’re our source of income, and they’re also part of our identities. Take this tip with a grain of salt - the more you’re looking at your phone, the less time you’re a part of the world around you. Start small and keep your phone away during dinner with friends. Focus your year on building solid social connections without the use of electronics - you’ll gain much more than you think.

4. Get Up and Move.

Notice how an exercise-related topic is 4th on the list? That’s because, in order to get the most out of exercise, you have to be hydrated and well rested. Now for this exercise goal, it doesn’t have to be anything crazy - just getting up and moving daily is all I ask of you. If you drink more water, you’ll also need to take more trips to the bathroom, which is more movement (see how i slipped that one in). If your movement is going for a walk at lunch, awesome! If its commiting to 3 days per week of strength training, amazing! Or even if it’s going to zumba with your mom every Saturday morning, even better! I hope to be less hard on myself in 2018 for missing a workout, and so should you!

5. Eat More Veggies and Less Donuts.

Now, here’s the food one. This year, I challenge you to have a more open mind when it comes to what you eat. I know it’s easy to fall into cycles: you eat poorly, then realize you’re eating poorly, so you eat really well for a week, only to have your flow disrupted when your coworker brings donuts into the office and you cave and eat three. Wow, can I relate to that. It’s tough to say no to sweets and treats, I know. But if you really want to eat the donut then eat it. Maybe don’t eat three donuts, and have an extra large serving of veggies during your next meal, but don’t be ashamed or discouraged if your diet hits a road bump.

6. Laugh More.

This one seems silly, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not. This is just a friendly reminder to not take yourself too seriously. We’re all professionals here and we’ve worked hard to get to where we are, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t laugh until you cry every once in a while. When was the last time you laughed so hard you couldn’t breathe? If you don’t have an answer to that, it’s been too long.

7. Work Less.

Did you know that work days in Sweden are six hours? Can you imagine? That sounds amazing. They did this in order to allow employees to be more productive during each hour of work, and also to allow them to live fuller lives. Let’s take some advice from across the waters and start working less. If you can answer the question, “Will it make a difference if I do it tomorrow?” with a no, then it can wait until tomorrow. Just think of all of the time you’ll have if you actually stopped working when you left the office.

8. Learn Something New.

Lastly, there is evidence that continuing to learn may help prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s. Now if that isn’t enough motivation to learn more about a subject of interest, a new language, or even just read more, I don’t know what is. One of my personal goals for this year is to read one book per month. I used to love reading growing up but I’ve fallen off of the wagon. I want to use this year to learn as much as I can. What do you want to learn more about?

This list is a guideline to help you live a more fulfilling life in 2018. We aren’t getting any younger, so now is the time to stop with the excuses and stay dedicated. Who knows - maybe you’ll develop habits to continue these great behaviors forever, or at least inspire someone around you.

Happy New Year and let’s be our best selves this year!

perform-for-life-amber-movement-specialist

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The Science Behind Poor Posture

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The Science Behind Poor Posture

One of the most common things we, as trainers, address and aim to improve in many of our clients is posture. Sedentary lifestyles are definitely not conducive for good posture - in fact, sedentary lifestyles, and specifically sitting, are the main cause of most postural issues. Among other things, sitting can contribute to tightness in the hips, abdominals, hamstrings, and chest, and these can all contribute to a slouched posture - and no, tight abs will not give you a flat stomach. It’s not unheard of, and actually somewhat common, to have a muscle group be both tight and weak - the tightness is usually a result of compensation for the muscle group’s weakness. I’m not going to get into too much of the nitty gritty so as to focus on how to combat poor posture, so take my word for it - tightness in these muscle groups are leading contributors to a less-than-ideal posture.

If these are some of the main culprits, it would make sense that strengthening the antagonist, or opposite muscle groups to these would help improve a slouch - and most of the antagonistic muscles are responsible for pulling actions. I’ll start with perhaps the most beneficial exercise: the deadlift.

Most of the work done during a deadlift is centered in the lower body, but it’s technically a full-body exercise. There are a few different variations of the deadlift, but I’ll talk about the conventional deadlift for now. The deadlift is considered a lower-body pull, and helps to strengthen almost every muscle that directly or indirectly contributes to good posture. The main movers during a conventional deadlift are the glutes and the spinal erectors. The glutes are hip extensors (if in a standing position, pull the leg behind the hips), and strengthening them can help alleviate tightness in their antagonist, the hip flexors (pull the legs towards the chest). The erectors in the back, located at either side of the spine, are also strengthened during a deadlift. This group of muscles are responsible for extending the back - ideal to combat chronic flexion, or forward rounding, of the back. The lats, rhomboids (skeletal muscles in the back), certain fibers of the traps, and deep cervical flexors of the neck are also worked during a deadlift, but do so through isometric contractions, which occur when a muscle is neither lengthened or shortened during its contraction - the length of the muscle stays the same.

Now, to upper body pull. The main movers responsible are the muscles that contract isometrically during a conventional deadlift: the lats, rhomboids, and some fibers of the traps. I’m simplifying the issue to a degree, but chronic sitting can lead to rounded shoulders, which can more often than not be attributed to tightness in the chest - specifically, in the pec major and minor. The pec muscles are push muscles, and like I said, strengthening the antagonist, the pull muscles, can combat the effects of tightness in these push muscles. The lats are responsible for extending and internally rotating the shoulder, the rhomboids contribute to retracting, or pulling back the shoulder blades, and the fibers of the traps that contribute the most to posture, the low traps, depress the shoulder blades down the back. Almost all pulling motions that you do with the upper body will strengthen these muscles, though I will say that targeting the low traps is a bit more challenging than targeting the lats and rhomboids.

If, for work or for leisure, you find yourself sitting for long periods of time, pulling motions are your friend! No one wants bad posture, but most jobs require sitting for most, if not all of the workday. You may have heard that “sitting is the new smoking” - well, that’s seems like it's not too far off from the truth.


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Hunger : An Overlooked Dieting Tool

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Hunger : An Overlooked Dieting Tool

If you’ve ever been told that you shouldn’t be hungry while dieting for fat loss, then you’ve been lied to. It sounds nice to be reassured that hunger is not a necessary part of dieting. However, if you really think about it, dieting is simply controlled starvation. You are intentionally forcing your body to eat away it’s precious fat stores, which it saves for a rainy day (a.k.a. a day that you are starving). I know that sounds terrible, but that’s only because of the plentiful lifestyles we lead. We are not used to being hungry because of how readily available food has become.

Let me clarify my earlier statements just a bit: if you’re constantly hungry while dieting, then you’re probably dieting to an unnecessary extreme. Conversely, if you never experience hunger while dieting, then you’re likely not ever creating a significant enough calorie deficit to make a noticeable change to the amount of fat you’re storing. Our body’s hunger signals are a finely-tuned mechanism that help to alert us when we start tapping into our body’s energy reserves. My suggestion is that once you start experiencing hunger signals, sit on that sensation for a couple of hours before immediately satiating yourself. I think this is one of the most underutilized dieting tools in existence. Why not use your built-in mechanism for detection of energy balance rather than using complicated formulas - formulas that are merely estimating what your body is already good at measuring?

I know this sounds crazy, extreme, or unhealthy, but being hungry isn’t dangerous. In fact, there is a growing body of evidence that some amount of fasting is actually beneficial for health. Again, most people in our society just used to never experiencing hunger, so when we do, it can be very uncomfortable. Let me clarify once again: when I describe experiencing hunger, I am talking about true physiological hunger, not the psychological taste hunger that all of us experience when we have cravings for something. You know, the sensation where your stomach is growling and and feels as though it’s eating itself. That is what you want to experience for a couple of hours before eating.

There are some advantages to using this tool to help you properly moderate calorie intake. Unless you’re planning your consumption in pre-proportioned meals, it’s hard to count calories accurately. Eating out or heaping leftovers into a tupperware that you haven’t measured leads to eating an unknown amount of food. Healthy choices or not, you can gain or lose fat eating any type of food out there if the calorie balance is adjusted accordingly. With that in mind, having a tool that helps to adjust when you have an unusually small or large meal is very helpful. If you have a massive dinner out with friends, you may not be hungry first thing when you wake up the next morning. You don’t need to force breakfast down just because “it’s the most important meal of the day.” Basically, using hunger as a guide is inherently very adaptable to things that occur in our lives every day.

Hunger isn’t just a tool that can be used between meals either. Using satiety and hunger signals in the middle of eating a meal can be very helpful as well. Try to avoid eating until you feel stuffed, bloated, and gross. Slow down your eating a bit so that satiety signals can kick in, and you have time to experience the sensation of being sufficiently fed without overdoing it. Thankfully, that between meal hunger I was talking about earlier will help regulate things properly if you overdo it. If you go until you’re stuffed (Let’s be real; it’s going to happen sometimes), then you will likely not experience hunger for a longer period of time than if you ate to mere satisfaction instead.

I know this can sound a little hokey compared to all the detailed diets you can find out there. However, I truly think that this system can be very effective if you’re honest with yourself and develop the connection to your body’s built-in signaling mechanisms. The more tools that help us live the lifestyle we want while achieving our goals the better. Now go forth, and be hungry with a purpose!


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We're All Human, Too

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We're All Human, Too

As a trainer, I often get asked by others if I love exercise. Now, the answer to that question can be tricky. Speaking for myself, I’d answer it with a yes and a no.

Yes, because I love the feeling after a hard workout of knowing that I finished it. Yes, because I love the feeling of knowing that I’m getting stronger after each workout when I see my numbers go up. Yes, because after I work out, I feel as though I’ve sweated out all of my anxieties and have a clearer mind.

On the other hand, no. No, because I often feel pressured by social media and the people around me to look a certain way. No, because even as a trainer, I get intimidated by some people at the gym - there is always someone who is stronger and more fit than I am. No, because sometimes, the reality of the day takes over and working out just won’t cut it.

Now that doesn’t seem like an answer you might hear, right?

I’m only human, and sometimes choose my bed over the weights. I, too, like to indulge in Salt and Straw’s newest holiday flavors. I, too, am like every other person on this planet, so when I feel a little self-conscious about how I look, I want to change it.

I am by no means saying that I’m perfect. What I am saying is that it’s okay to take time off of exercise because you don’t have, and can’t find, the motivation to go. It’s okay to take time off of exercise because you’re bored with your current routine. It’s okay if you sometimes feel weaker than you did during the previous workout. All of these things are okay, they’re normal, and they happen to everyone.

But what can you do?

Should you quit? NO. Never.

You can keep moving, keep striving to be a better version of yourself, and lastly, know that there is always tomorrow - the weights will still be there.


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