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Play - The Forgotten Asset

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Play - The Forgotten Asset

Let’s be honest here: sometimes adult life’s routines and responsibilities can get a little boring, sometimes to the point of driving us a little crazy. I’m not just saying this because I just became a dad - I’ve always felt invigorated, alive, and present when I’m deeply engaged in play. The definition of playing is “to engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose”. It’s the freedom to connect mind, body, and spirit together in either an organized or unorganized fashion - with physical activity usually involved. Adults may have a hard time balancing work, parenting, networking, etc., and thus have a hard time achieving a state of balance. Thus, we may actually need structure when we partake in physical activity, such as a personal training session. This allows us to be as efficient as possible with our use of time, on top of getting professional coaching recommendations. I firmly believe that attending a class or session is necessary as a part of our weekly physical activity/exercise routines, or else I wouldn’t be in this business. Exercise is done to improve health and fitness, and should be structured in a way such that it works toward a goal. Now, that’s something you should do two to five times per week, depending on your availability and goals. But - how about just being physically active via play just one to two times per week? I don’t want to hear that you don’t have time to play! In fact, I believe it’s a vital aspect of life. If you can’t engage in play during the week other than your time at Perform For Life (or any other fitness facility you attend), then your coaches/instructors should damn well incorporate it into the programming.

“What are some examples of play? Isn’t that what we did as children?”

Examples include joining a rec league, learning how to throw a football for the first time, or just getting your friends or family together to play kickball (or sloshball - easy on the beer, of course). These are some examples, but it can really be anything to you. My passion for play started early in childhood - I remember my parents telling me to go to outside and play and return in time for dinner. I’m not embarrassed to say that I have vivid memories of going to my backyard and playing an imaginary game of baseball, emulating my favorite players batting styles for sometimes hours at a time. In adulthood, when I begin to feel in a rut, I usually turn to play and find that part of the reason that I’m feeling the way I am is because I’m not making the time to do something in which I truly enjoy myself. If I really reflect on why it’s such a powerful resource, I believe it was always an outlet for me during stressful times from childhood and into my adult life. In some ways, there can be a powerful meditation component to it in the sense that we can be fully present and forget all of our worries. I can let loose, have fun, and truly enjoy myself. My recommendation to you is to figure out a way to do something weekly that you will not think twice about cancelling on - something you’ll stick to. As a starter, try something that involves improving a skill, whatever that may be. Just go out there and play!

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Tips For Consistency In The Gym

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Tips For Consistency In The Gym

For virtually any fitness goal, the two most influential determinants of success are hard work and consistency over time. I’d much rather see a client adhere strictly to a suboptimal program than inconsistently follow the “perfect” program for their goals. Hard work and dedication trump science-based programming every time. This blog is going to focus on tools you can use to be consistent, as I think that consistency is the single biggest obstacle for most people.

Make It A Habit

You should be exercising daily. I'm not saying this because the fact that this frequency of exercise is necessarily the best, but because it's the best way to build a habit. You need exercise to be a part of your routine - just like eating, brushing your teeth, or watching that trashy reality TV show no one knows you like.

Put It In Your Calendar

People need to respect your workouts, and this includes you. I used to do this when I trained at a box gym where membership advisors and managers would add sessions to my calendar: I blocked off the time and simply listed it as unavailable. They don't need to know what I'm doing; they just need to be aware that it's something I prioritize. As well, I found making the declaration to myself was similarly important.

Variety is Key

If you're going to follow my first suggestion, then variety is important. You shouldn't do long runs or lift weights exclusively - you need to vary the type of stress imposed upon various biological systems (most notably, but not limited to, the musculoskeletal system). You can emphasize certain types of exercise to address your goals, but unless you're a high-level athlete that has to be narrowly focused, save yourself from the overuse injuries. Most folks will also find exercise more enjoyable when variation is used appropriately.

Workout When You Travel

Travel is not an excuse to avoid exercise. You can and should do some exercise, even if it is less intense and less structured than what you do at home. This is especially true if you travel for work. If you truly want to make it a habit, then you need to really prioritize exercise, no matter where you are - that way you won't be totally ruined when emergencies like illness really do get in the way.

Train Around Injuries

You shouldn't do things that aggravate an injury, but that doesn't mean the alternative is to regress to a completely sedentary lifestyle. If you injure your knee, do exercises with the healthy leg, do more upper body exercises, or try low-impact stuff like swimming. Don't focus on what you can't do, but rather focus on what you can do. Injuries are a part of life; you just need to adapt.

Include Recreational exercise

Exercise doesn't have to mean going to the gym. At least once every few days, do something less structured. Go for a hike up to Twin Peaks, cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge, play tennis, etc. This is great way to incorporate variety, but also helps to make sure you think of exercise as fun and enjoyable.

Limit Alcohol Intake

Drinking is one of the biggest obstacles to a healthy lifestyle, and it's true on so many levels. In addition to it having direct health consequences, it also indirectly affects consistency in the gym. I bet those of you reading this have missed workouts because of hangovers or poor sleep from drinking the night before. Don't add these things to the long list of stuff that can really disrupt your gym consistency.

It's Not All Or Nothing

No one is perfect. You will miss days of exercise, even if it's a fairly ingrained habit. It happens, and it's okay. If you've ever found yourself thinking something along the lines of “well, I missed the first couple of days this week; I'll start again on Monday,” then you know what I mean by the title of this section. Something is a lot better than nothing, and mistakes do happen. Don't let something small progress into full-blown case of falling off the wagon. Don't start again Monday, start again now.

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5 Tips for A Healthy Relationship With Food

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5 Tips for A Healthy Relationship With Food

1. Less Restrictions!

Magazine headlines constantly promise that cutting a specific food or food groups out of your diet will lead to weight loss. The most important factor in weight and fat loss is caloric intake. When calories are kept in check at a slight deficit, weight loss will come. Restricting certain foods may make it easier to keep calories well beneath a surplus, but this method sparks a flood of restrictive thoughts. The ‘I can’t have that’ thought bombards your mind and fosters an unhealthy relationship with food. This can be avoided through a healthy relationship with food, keeping calories at a slight deficit, and enjoying in moderation!

2. Calibrate Your Plate

A little portion size calibration in meals can go a long way in regards to hitting your macronutrient (carbs, fats, proteins) and micronutrient (vitamins, minerals) goals! Veggies should dominate half of any given plate because they’re the most nutrient-dense foods. Protein is up next at about a quarter of your plate, with fats and starches splitting the last quarter of the plate. This rough set-up can help guide meal planning and prepping, making it easy to hit your daily macro- and micronutrient goals.

3. The 80/20 Rule

Although this is used as a business principle, the 80/20 rule also applies to nutrition. Restrictive diets lead to unhealthy relationships with food, so the 80/20 rule exists to help those who don’t want to - or can’t - put too much time into their nutrition, but still want to stay on a path to a leaner build. The 80/20 rule suggests that 80% of the foods you eat are whole, healthy, and clean foods, while the other 20% may be ‘fun’ foods. So, if you eat five portioned meals, 4 out of 5 of them should be comprised of whole foods, while the other meal can be a small splurge. For someone who doesn’t want to constantly worry about the foods they’re eating, this simple tip may be a very helpful reminder!

4. Eat Half, Take Half

The large portions of many restaurants are usually around two servings, so why not save one?These servings make it more than easy to overshoot calorie goals. The ‘eat half, take half’ tip helps with portion control by suggesting that if the serving size from the restaurant is too large (usually more than 1.5 servings), eat half of the meal - then take the other half home. This tip can be extremely helpful if your favorite restaurant loves to serve up large meals, or if you need a little extra help with portion control in general.

5. Track Liquid Calories

While nutrition trackers are great at keeping calories in check, we can’t forget to track liquid calories when we log food! Drinks like tea and black coffee have less than five calories per serving, so these don’t need to be tracked nearly as closely as other drinks. However, blended coffee drinks, creamer, milk teas, soft drinks, and juices may have a significant effect on calorie consumption. Blended coffee drinks can have upwards of 300 calories, so if you get one three times a week, you could be 3,600 calories in surplus by the end of the month. These drinks don’t need to completely avoided, but should be tracked as a part of your daily nutrition - or counted toward the 20% of your 80/20 split.

Try any one or a combination of these tips, and see which one is best suited to you and your lifestyle. Make sure its sustainable, and if it is, stick to it!

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The Approach To Failure

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The Approach To Failure

“Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we're curious...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” -- Walt Disney

I’m just entering my 20’s, a student in college taking classes, and still trying to figure life out along the way. One of the biggest and most meaningful takeaways that I’ve come to terms with is that it’s okay to fail, to keep moving forward from experiences that may not have gone the way that I expected. I've come to the conclusion that failure is just a step closer towards my success. Sure, it can be frustrating and can seem like it’d be much easier to just give up and move on to the next. However, growth comes from failure and we learn so much more when we persevere and work our way through it. The fear of failure is the only thing holding us back. You can’t learn how to swim without getting a little wet.

I’ve had my fair share of failures in life, whether it was my first ‘F’ in 7th grade geography, giving up a goal in a championship soccer game, or bombing a job interview.  However, I made sure that that was the last F I’d ever get, made sure no one got past me and I’d leave it all out there on the field, and made sure I was just myself and kept looking for a job that fit me best.  The point is that I learned from these failures and I got back up and tried harder again and again until I got it right.

I believe that how we deal with failure indicates the direction of growth in our character - how we handle any adversity in life really, can be a pivotal moment or a shift in energy in our attitude towards success.  It’s easy to give up after failure, but to move forward and to try again is what makes the challenge and excitement of success more meaningful. In a philosophy class I took a couple semesters back, we talked about how we live in a world where failure isn’t an option and that we should thrive and be successful in everything we do. But think about it, do you believe that we can really learn everything by just our success stories? Or sticking to what we know and practicing the things that we’re already good at? The whole aspect of growth is learning from our mistakes and failures and coming up with solutions ourselves.

After failure, it’s important to not give up and to keep on keeping on.  If some of the greatest people in history gave up when times got tough, we most likely wouldn’t be where we are today as a society. If you have a vision, stick to it and keep moving forward. Success isn’t supposed to come easy; success is just the product of the work, dedication, and grit you put into whatever it is that you do.

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Sciatica - Or Something Else?

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Sciatica - Or Something Else?

Do you have low back pain that radiates behind the glute and down the back of the leg? This may seem like an oddly-specific question, but these are actually the symptoms of an extremely commonly diagnosed issue called sciatica. Actually, to be more accurate, I should say commonly misdiagnosed issue. Let’s get into it. 

Sciatica, as I mentioned before, causes people to experience pain or numbness in the low back that often radiates down the back of the hip and leg. This happens when a herniated disc in the lumbar spine compresses the sciatic nerve.

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The sciatic nerve is a very large nerve originating from the lumbar spine innervating the hip and leg. As such, a bulging or herniated disc can easily impinge the nerve, which sends pain and discomfort along the nerve’s route. Sciatica is a serious issue and individuals suffering from it often go through extensive physical therapy, use medication for inflammation and pain management, and in some cases even undergo surgery.

However, a huge issue, as I alluded to before, is the misdiagnosis of individuals with similar or identical symptoms who do not actually have sciatica. So how it is that some people with similar or even identical symptoms may have an issue that isn’t sciatica?

Let’s talk about another issue called piriformis syndrome. Piriformis syndrome is a condition in which the piriformis muscle, a deep hip stabilizer and external rotator, spasms and causes pain. The piriformis may also irritate the sciatic nerve which runs through its fibers to cause pain, numbness, and tingling that runs from the glute down the back of the leg. This should sound familiar - the symptoms are nearly identical to those of sciatica.

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The bigger problem is that these issues - pain, numbness, and tingling radiating down a limb - are not just sciatica or piriformis syndrome symptoms, but symptoms that could arise from a nerve entrapment anywhere in the body. When nerves get compressed by muscle spasms, tightness, or a bulge from a herniated disc, they become irritated - and may cause some or all of the suffering we’ve discussed.

Identifying the true issue is extremely important because that will determine what the appropriate treatment is to bring someone out of their pain and suffering. If someone has piriformis syndrome or nerve entrapment because of tight muscles, a skilled bodyworker can work to relieve tightness and very quickly do away with someone’s pain and issues. However, if someone has true sciatica - a bulging lumbar disc impinging the nerve - more serious action needs to be taken to address and solve the problem.

If you’re suffering with pain similar to what I’ve described, be sure to seek multiple opinions and get an MRI or X-RAY to see what’s actually happening with bones, discs, muscles, and connective tissue. If you aren’t 100% sure about the cause of the issue, start with a less aggressive, non-invasive route before considering more serious options like medication and surgery.

Sciatica, as I mentioned before, causes people to experience pain or numbness in the low back that often radiates down the back of the hip and leg. This happens when a herniated disc in the lumbar spine compresses the sciatic nerve.

The sciatic nerve is a very large nerve originating from the lumbar spine innervating the hip and leg. As such, a bulging or herniated disc can easily impinge the nerve, which sends pain and discomfort along the nerve’s route. Sciatica is a serious issue and individuals suffering from it often go through extensive physical therapy, use medication for inflammation and pain management, and in some cases even undergo surgery.

However, a huge issue, as I alluded to before, is the misdiagnosis of individuals with similar or identical symptoms who do not actually have sciatica. So how it is that some people with similar or even identical symptoms may have an issue that isn’t sciatica?

Let’s talk about another issue called piriformis syndrome. Piriformis syndrome is a condition in which the piriformis muscle, a deep hip stabilizer and external rotator, spasms and causes pain. The piriformis may also irritate the sciatic nerve which runs through its fibers to cause pain, numbness, and tingling that runs from the glute down the back of the leg. This should sound familiar - the symptoms are nearly identical to those of sciatica.

The bigger problem is that these issues - pain, numbness, and tingling radiating down a limb - are not just sciatica or piriformis syndrome symptoms, but symptoms that could arise from a nerve entrapment anywhere in the body. When nerves get compressed by muscle spasms, tightness, or a bulge from a herniated disc, they become irritated - and may cause some or all of the suffering we’ve discussed.

Identifying the true issue is extremely important because that will determine what the appropriate treatment is to bring someone out of their pain and suffering. If someone has piriformis syndrome or nerve entrapment because of tight muscles, a skilled bodyworker can work to relieve tightness and very quickly do away with someone’s pain and issues. However, if someone has true sciatica - a bulging lumbar disc impinging the nerve - more serious action needs to be taken to address and solve the problem.

If you’re suffering with pain similar to what I’ve described, be sure to seek multiple opinions and get an MRI or X-RAY to see what’s actually happening with bones, discs, muscles, and connective tissue. If you aren’t 100% sure about the cause of the issue, start with a less aggressive, non-invasive route before considering more serious options like medication and surgery.

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