Monday, June 27, 2011

Fitness for "The Battle"

Being physically fit and prepared for emergencies is one of the many reasons I stay motivated to continue with my fitness.  The mental aspect of emergency preparedness can only take you so far, depending on the emergency of course.  We all know “stuff” happens when we least expect it so, we must train with that in mind.  Some examples are: a hiking trip from hell, where you need to drag yourself or someone else to safety or you must run for miles to get help; your boat capsizes and you have to swim for miles to get help; you have to climb a tree to escape a four- legged animal and of course you have to protect yourself or your family from someone (two-legged animal) that means you harm.  Oh, and let's not forget the CDC Emergency Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse plan. We each have our own destiny to contend with so it might not hurt for us to be prepared for the challenge that destiny may bring or what call “The Battle”.

"The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it".  ~Albert Einstein

** Thanks to all the lawyers, and people that don’t take responsibility for their own actions, I must post this disclaimer; these postings are my own opinions, follow them at your risk and consult your physician. **

Fitness for battle basic routine should include:

  • A heavy dose of anaerobic activity, many emergencies are more anaerobic than aerobic. 
  • A focus on upper body strength, having strong shoulders and arms can pull you out of a mess.
  • Strong abdominal muscles will help enhance upper body strength and back strength.
  • An exercise that mentally “breaks” you every now and then.  Such as running up hill, this will help you mentally and physically reach the next level of endurance.

Nutrition for battle basics:

  • DON’T accustom your body to chemicals claiming to improve muscle strength or capability.  Depending on the emergency you may not have access to these chemicals and your body will break down quick.
  • Make your body perform with what you give it; if you only had a candy bar for dinner, then make it perform at the gym on that.  This trains the body to become efficient, try not to stress it like this too often.
  • Don’t overload your body with water, drink water throughout the day.  If you’re carrying a water bottle at the gym it’s too late and more of a habit.  Remember you want your body to become efficient.

Here are some good survival stories to read about, try to picture yourself in their situation and imaging what muscles strength would come in handy.

Feel free to contact me.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Post exercise muscle soreness

A friend of mine recently started a new workout routine, using nothing but body weight exercises.   On day two she mentioned to me how sore she was after starting this new program, but she enjoyed it, and the fact that she was sore, encouraged her to continue the routine.  After three days she became so sore she could barely move or walk.  It turns out she finally had to see the Dr. and even had to take a couple of sick days from work.  The Dr. told her it would take about two weeks to recover and there is not much he could do.    

The psychological feeling of muscle soreness.

There is nothing like the feeling of a good workout, but what about the muscle soreness that comes with it.  Some people measure workout routine effectiveness on how sore they get the next day.  Although this may have some validity and provide a certain level of encouragement it can also psychologically deter someone from continuing the program.  Be sure to give your body time to recover, not giving your body enough recovery time could cause some serious damage that will set your fitness goals back.

Why do we get sore?

Post work out muscle soreness also referred to as delayed muscle soreness (DOMS) is a soreness or muscle stiffness that occurs a day or two after exercise.  DOMS is thought to be microscopic tearing of the muscle fibers.  Typically felt after a new exercise program, a change in exercise program or a dramatic increase in duration and intensity of your current routine.  This type of soreness is the body adapting and re-building.  This type of soreness is not the same as soreness felt after an injury, there should be no bruising or swelling.

What are some treatments for muscle soreness after exercise?

Nothing is proven 100 percent effective; age and fitness level also plays a role in recovery time. There are chemicals or so called nutritional powders you can take, but I would avoid them, just let your body recover as naturally as possible; don’t get your body accustomed to chemicals.

Some methods for dealing with post exercise muscle soreness are: 
  • Active Recovery – performing easy low-impact aerobic exercise to increase blood flow after an intense workout routine basically be sure to cool down.
  • Rest and Recover – self explanatory, just wait it out with no special treatment.
  • Sport Massage – this may help increase blood flow.
  • Gentle Stretching – be careful not to cause any tearing.
  • Can you say Yoga?
  • Self-Awareness – listen to your body, know how hard to push it.
  • Warm Up – warm up before an intense session (this is one reason why I usually run before lifting).
Minor muscle soreness should typically not put you on the sideline and after a good warm up you should be ready, but be careful with soreness that keeps you out of the game, just let your body heal itself and adjust to the routine.  Depending on your fitness level, you may not always feel the muscle soreness, so don’t base the effectiveness of your routine on muscle soreness.  When starting a new routine, give it a test run at half speed and work up to it.  This might take a little longer, but remember the story "The Tortoise and the Hare". 

Feel free to contact me.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Self-Awareness and Fitness

Let me first state that these are my opinions that are based on my experiences and application.  So, at the risk of sounding a little weird to some of you, I feel it's necessary for me to discuss the subject of  self-awareness and how it can make a positive impact on your long term fitness goals and overall well-being.  I hope to maybe help someone achieve their fitness goals and maybe eventually turn the proverbial "Third Eye" inward. 

He who knows others is learned;
He who knows himself is wise.
~Lao-tzu, Tao te Ching

Getting fit should be and is a goals that many of us strife for and some achieve.  The amount of information published and available can be so overwhelming and confusing that it may even sap your energy and desire to continue the journey.  Many fitness goals start off as long term goals, but after awhile become short term sporadic goals for various reasons and before you know it, time has gone by, making it even harder to start up again.  One of the many factors that many routines or trainers fail to incorporate or take into account is the need for self-awareness and that true long term fitness requires a certain level of body and soul alignment.

The human body is very powerful, capable and can adapt very quickly.  We don't even fully understand or comprehend the human body's potential capabilities, but what we can do is assume and believe in its potential.

In addition to other potential positive impacts to your life, self-awareness will help you not only better understand yourself, it will help you understand others.  Understanding others may save you from harm or maybe even prevent you from getting involved with the wrong kind of person by feeling the negative energy, much like animals do.  You can also achieve a high level of discipline and pretty much kick any bad habit you want and for those that fear being alone, consider it a non-issue.

From a fitness perspective, self-awareness impacts your fitness goals by establishing a communication pathway between you and the body (organs, cells, arteries, muscles, etc...), a good understanding of the human anatomy helps.  Because the body can't speak it communicates by visual interpretation by accessing memories and emotions stored in your brain.  Most people have weird dreams when they are sick, or pain in a certain part of the body.  Ever notice the dreams you have when you need to use the bathroom?  Maybe a situation that irritates or aggravates you, that always gets me up, anyway I digress and I hope you get my point.

Some basic methods of achieving self-awareness are:
  • Try asking yourself (silently of course) and truly figuring out why you feel a certain way sometimes.  What and why certain things or situations make you angry, sad or happy and why you make certain statements.  Don't be afraid to discover that maybe you may not be so nice, that's OK, that is what you want.  It's better to see, know and face the ugly part of you than to turn your back on it while it destroys you.  The good part is always easier to look at.  After all if a plant grows better when you talk to it, why can't the body react when you apply a similar concept or why does everyday stress have a negative impact on your body?  Use this double-edged sword towards your advantage and make it positive.
  • Try to pay attention to you body while working out, picture the muscles involved, it is important you visualize the part of the body you are exercising and shaping.  Have a picture in your mind of what your end state is.  Therefore it is crucial you respect your body when exercising, that is why I recommend working out alone.   
 Self-Awareness works hand in hand with the visualization element of the Stress Free Fitness philosophy and is a crucial part of long term fitness and overall well-being.

Whereas the average individuals "often have not the slightest idea of what they are, of what they want, of what their own opinions are," self-actualizing individuals have "superior awareness of their own impulses, desires, opinions, and subjective reactions in general.
~Abraham Maslow

What say you?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Safe Butt Exercise

SFF believes in long term fitness and exercises that can be executed for years to come without injury.   There may be  plenty of other butt exercises that may be more effective, BUT what are the trade-offs?

In my opinion the squat motion exercises have a high effective rating but also a high injury rating.  Take a close look at people who perform squats, yes they have nice legs and butts, however they may be suffering from some sort of knee or back pain, if not now then soon, some even use knee braces.  Most trainers love this exercise because it produces quick results and makes people sore.  What they should be teaching are long term safe exercises.

Switch to or try the bent-leg raise exercise instead, you can use ankle weights as well.  You may not look as cool, but you will prevent injury and be able to continue with your long term fitness goals.  While it may seem like the others are getting stronger, faster and looking better, don't worry, while they are on the side of the road broken and damaged you will whiz on by on the fitness highway.  Remember the tortoise and the hare story?

Stay on the long term fitness highway!