Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Melissa's Tip of the Week is designed to help you live a healthier life through exercise and proper nutrition.
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Muscle withers away if you're not 

constantly building it, and muscle withers faster as we age.  Waning muscle mass gives way to fat gain, stiff joints, stumbling and bumbling balance, and a precipitous drop in self esteem and functional strength.  If you are willing to, fighting back will help us turn the hands of time back, just a bit.  This means getting strong.  Lifting weights can do as much for your heart and lungs as cardio, in addition to building lean muscle, providing you with armor to weather the inevitable storms of time.  

But the rub here is, what do you do to build that strength?  There are a plethora of machines and pulleys, bands and free weights, balance devices and pads, ropes and straps.  What works best?  What's the simplest answer?  Frankly, you can get fit anywhere, at any time.  You can lift cans of soup, bags of groceries, or your own body weight.  No fitness equipment is required to take a walk outside,  or to move your body through space.  The truth is, that stuff was created to rope you in, with the promise of a shiny new body.  That doesn't mean it doesn't work:  it does.  But you don't really need  those items to get a fitter body.

 I've spend the last 15 years, focused on studying all of the different modalities (define as fitness stuff), learning about different illnesses and limitations, special populations and sports specific training.  But what's the bottom line?  Build muscle.  Get strong.  If you do that, you will be able to function, doing what you want, whenever you want.  That's functional fitness.

Do you HAVE to have a trainer?  Absolutely not.  If you can motivate yourself to workout, just move!  Where trainers like me come in handy is in not only motivating the unmotivated, but also in designing programs that will work for you and are periodized; Changing our approach, based on accomplishments and achieving goals. Other reasons a trainer can be helpful are if you have special considerations;  you have knee replacements or other joint issues, MS, Fibromyalgia, arthritis--these can make exercising safely challenging.  Each condition comes with its own challenges, and it's my job to sift through those to make the program work.

A trainer can also help to pinpoint muscular imbalances.  You may not realize that your back pain is related to your hamstrings being too tight, and your abs being too weak.  Or you may suffer from knee pain due to over-developed quadriceps muscles, and weak hamstrings and glutes.  It's my job to assess your movement and listen to your story.  Taking all of those aches and pains, diagnoses from the doctor, and your likes and dislikes to try to create something you will actually do.  A client once said to me "I'm not likely to do that one on my own."  Ahhhh, this is why we're doing that particular exercise together.  The ones you will do on your own, those end up as your homework (gymwork, extra assignments that you do on your own throughout the week when I don't see you).

I've got news for you:  there are a fair number of exercises I'm not  likely to do on my own.  That's one reason I teach classes!  That way, I do it with the comraderie of the group.  When I was working actively on losing weight (145#), group exercise classes were the only way I could stay motivated.  I couldn't stand the treadmill, and the weight room at the YMCA where I worked out was still way too intimidating.  At one point, I did consult a trainer, and that program helped me to lose my last 40# or so.  So when you're stuck, or bored, or intimidated, that's a good time to ask for some help, too.

Whatever you pick, it will work, if you just do it.  Build that muscle so you can stay strong.  Work harder and smarter by choosing something you will do regularly.  But most of all, keep moving!
One of the new toys I have is a basic spiralizer.  It's an inexpensive hand held item that I bought at a local store.  It helps you to cut out the pasta (sugar, empty carbs), and use a vegetable like zucchini instead.  So if you are interested in exploring that option, below is a recipe to try.

Zucchini with Chicken, Feta, and Spinach

  • 2-3 chicken breast tenderloins (strips), cut into chunks
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 packed cup of spinach
  • 1 large zucchini, Blade C
  • 5 small cubes of feta cheese (less than 1/4 cup)
  1. Place a large skillet over medium heat. Coat with cooking spray and add in your chicken. Season with salt and pepper and let cook for about 3 minutes and then flip over, cooking another 3-5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Then, add in the lemon juice, spinach, zucchini and garlic powder. Let cook, tossing frequently, until spinach is wilted and zucchini noodles soften, about 3 minutes.
  2. When done, use pasta tongs to transfer to a bowl. Season with pepper, top with feta and enjoy!
This fun combo exercise uses the TRX as our exercise tool, and helps us to use our body weight to strengthen the biceps, and the upper back.  In both exercises, the elbows are in line with the shoulders.  You determine how hard you are working, by how deep your angle is.  Stepping forward deepens the angle, increasing your weight.  Start with one set of 12, building up to 3 sets of 12.  Eventually, you'll be able to keep going for 60 seconds straight with no stopping.  Working on endurance, we focus on more time for the exercise.  Focus on strength means you need to continue to deepen that angle to make the weight heavier.  

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