REST IS UNDERRATED

 

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Cyclo-cross

“So during your season, you’re in constant training as a road cyclist.”

“Correct.”

“What do you do in the off-season?”

“Cyclo-cross.”

“And each season is about six months?”

“Yeah, about that”

“…You realize that you’re still doing the same sport?”

“No it’s road racing and cross.”

“…But you’re still on a bike.”

“So? That counts as cross-training?”

“…Right…”

Happy Sleep

Happy Sleep

This is a conversation I had with one of my clients on the topic of cross-training to improve race performance.  I use it as an example, of how insidious the ego can be when it comes to the topic of Rest.  R-E-S-T is seriously underrated.

drunk at work

Impaired Cognitive Ability

People don’t realize that sustained MILD sleep deprivation can result in your cognitive function (ability to do basic stuff, plus reaction time and accuracy) being the equivalent of a blood alcohol level of 0.05%.  In the workplace, we drive ourselves towards the 60 hour mark and think it’s a good thing, a sign of good effort & productivity.  But in fact, most offices would likely fire an employee that showed up repeatedly intoxicated at the above level.  We have a disconnect from “perceived effort” – what it takes to get work and get the job done right and what is actual reality! http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1739867/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK19958/

vacation

Vacation

How many of us don’t take proper vacation days until it becomes a “use it or lose it” situation?  You don’t think you are tired; but then you get on the beach and three days later you realize how dire your state, mental and physical actually have been! I once had a client who was a NYC partner in a financial research company.  She decided to dedicate three hours out of the 168 in a week to herself and regaining her physical health.  Her partners put pressure on her and implied that she wasn’t taking her job seriously.  But luckily, she ignored them and stuck with the priority of her own self-care.  Over the next year, she shared with me that she had started charting her productivity and the better care she took of herself, the more productive she was.  She lost twenty pounds, began running marathons and her work, contrary to popular belief excelled.  And her partners, who sat around the table audibly wheezing, began to respect her because they saw the positive change.

happy brain

Happy Brain

Your brain thrives when it is properly rested.  The NIH recommends 7-8 hours/night for adults. So too does your body thrive when you just give it some time off.  If you play a sport, do something completely different even if it’s just for 6-8 weeks.  As we head into summer, I hear panicked clients saying, “What should I do on my two weeks off?”  I always say, “Relax. Do Nothing.  If you want to go on a stroll or a hike or even a bike ride with loved ones, then do so. But if you want to sit in the lawn chair and just breathe that would be perfect too!”  http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/howmuch.html

equestrianAs a teenager I was a nationally ranked Equestrian; I rode all year long and was always working on performance and technique.  When I went to college, I was forced to stop for three months.  But when I came back to ride my trainer of ten years said, “Have you been riding while you’ve been at school? All the things you were struggling with seemed to sink in while you were gone.  You’re looking fabulous!”  This is one reason why cross training or just pure rest are good for the body; it allows time for the learning to sink in and for the overused parts to rest.

Twenty years ago when I was in secondary school/high school, kids played different sports each season.  Nowadays, kids play one sport year round and they play it hard; everyone has their eye on college athletic scholarships or awards.  Disturbingly, doctors and physical therapists are seeing more and more pelvic fractures, repeat fractures and other dangerous injuries in youth simply due to the overtraining!  As my conversation with the cyclist above illustrates, the body likes rest and that includes doing different movement patterns and sometimes just the one pattern of couch potato. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00247-009-1191-z#page-1

We must let go of this unhealthy “driven superhero” attitude.  How many of us want to drive hard for the first 65 years and then arrive as a wreck in your retirement?  If you are rested, sleep 7-8 hours/night most nights, vary your workout routine, break up the schedule with short bouts of complete physical vacation your work productivity will increase and so too will your enjoyment of your life.  When you get to the golden goal, you will be able to fully enjoy it!  Hallelujah! Say it with me now, “R-E-S-T!”

Rest

R-E-S-T!

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Goal Setting

“I want to lose weight.” 

Lose 10 lbs

Lose 10 lbs

“Ok. What do you plan to do to achieve that?”

“Well, I signed up for a gym and I’m watching what I eat.  I’m going to try to not eat any sugar.”

And then…three weeks later, no change occurs and the individual gives up on the goal having only gained a sense of guilt and failure.  This scenario, I think we can all agree is unfortunately far too common.

There are actually three different types of goals: Outcome, Performance and Progress.

Goal Setting

Goal Setting

The problem lies in that most people only set the OUTCOME goal.  At some point in the future, you would like to lose 10 lbs.  An outcome goal is the end result of what you are trying to achieve.  It’s problematic because if it’s vague and too far out in the future, then there’s no sense of urgency.

A PERFORMANCE goal is the task you set yourself to achieve the OUTCOME goal you desire.  Ask yourself, “What do I need to do to accomplish losing weight?”

The PROCESS goals relate to the specific steps you must take to achieve better performance.

Let’s take the example of my friend, Susan.  She had a baby and went back to graduate

S.M.A.R.T.

S.M.A.R.T.

school.  Having been an athlete, she decided that three years after her son was born it was really time to get rid of “the baby weight,” especially since that baby was rapidly growing out of the toddler stage.  Her OUTCOME goal was to lose 10 lbs in five months.  This is a doable goal: Having estimated that the average woman at optimal weight loss loses a 1/2 lb/week.  That would take her 20 weeks to lose 10 lbs.  Notice, she got specific – she did the math and put a date down on the calendar.  Also, she realistically gave herself an appropriate amount of time to achieve her goal.  With this roadmap guiding her through the next few months, she’s not likely to feel completely disappointed two weeks later.

To define a PERFORMANCE goal she needed to address what she had to do to get the weight off.  She identified three areas that needed more specific attention: 1) Nutrition, 2) Cardiovascular work and 3) Strength training.  Therefore, she set PERFORMANCE GOALS, ways to measure her success for each category.  For example: Regarding nutrition, she ate a balanced breakfast five out of seven days; regarding cardiovascular work she committed to running four days a week for twenty minutes; and regarding strength training she committed to going to a body sculpt class twice a week.

Lastly, she really took the time and thought about her PROCESS goals. “What goals 2specifically do I have to do to get my self to perform better?”  She thought about her time management and realized that she did set aside the time to go to the gym, but when she got to the locker room to change she would start chatting with friends and whittle away the time dedicated to her PERFORMANCE goals.  So she began coming to the gym ready to go straight to the workout. And she steered clear of chatting with everyone.

I’m going to put this into outline form because writing down your goals and strategies will ABSOLUTELY aid you in achieving the best things in your future!

GOAL SETTING FOR SUSAN:

OUTCOME GOAL: Lose10 lbs

  • 1/2 lb/week on ave. for 20 weeks = 5 months.
  • June 1st, 2014 is my optimal date and it’s written on my calendar!!!

PERFORMANCE GOALS 1 – 3: Nutrition, Cardio & Strength Training

1) Nutrition

  • Eat breakfast 5/7 days
  • Eat two servings of fruit/day
  • Eat three servings of veggies/day

2) Cardio

  • Run four x week for 20 minutes – Mon @ 7am, Tues @ 7am, Thur @ 7am, Fri @ 7am.
  • It’s written in the calendar for the next five months.

3) Strength Training

  • Do two body sculpt classes/week – Mon & Fri @ 7:30 am.
  • It’s written in the calendar for the next five months.

PROCESS GOALS: What will help me achieve my performance goals?

1) Nutrition – Meet with a nutritionist once a month to learn what is a balanced meal and what is an appropriate portion for me.

2) Cardio –

  • Come dressed, ready to do my run. Don’t chat – just get on the treadmill.
  • Meet with a trainer at week 4 to determine my anaerobic threshold (heart rate range) and build a cardio program around it.

3) Strength Training –

  • Meet with a trainer at week 6 to assess my strength and learn how to safely increase the weights I’m doing to keep seeing changes.
  • Form a support group with my best friend to help me stay on track.

Goal Setting should be specific, positive and shared with anyone who will help uplift you and be on your team.  When done this way it is a valuable tool to help you realize your highest concept of self!

Remember: “What is your Victory today?”cropped-vflogo-shdw-final.jpg

 

Olympic Fever

Sochi 2014

Sochi 2014

images-1I love the Olympics!  It doesn’t matter the nation, sport or season, every two years I get obsessed.  If you’re calling me to go out, don’t bother; if you want to spend time with me, park it on the couch and no talking except during commercial breaks!  When the two weeks are up, the torch extinguished and regular snoozefest programming returns, I literally slump.  Several of my friends also go through the Post-Olympic depression knowing that many cool sports, that we’ve become addicted to, like Bi-athalon and Snowboard-Cross, we just won’t see for another four years.  The separation is difficult.

But the great thing I find about each and every Olympics is how much harder I begin to train in my own workouts.  That’s not to say that I get delusions of grandeur and start pumping iron five days a week, three hours a day.  It’s simply watching graceful individuals with purpose, dedication and discipline inspire me to emulate those qualities within myself and it starts coming out in my workouts first.  It’s not that I consciously even intend to work harder and better; but I get to the end of my planned workout and I have given it my all and it has left me in a better place than when I started.Unknown

It’s true that the Olympics like church is often beset by scandal, corruption and politics.  But the true Olympic spirit burns so brightly that it casts all those petty incidents into the shadows and the world is drawn together in a celebration of camaraderie and the best we have to offer each other.  It doesn’t matter that I can’t pronounce the name of the athlete who just went off pace by a fraction of a second and is brought to tears, my heart breaks just the same.  I yell encouraging “coach-like words” from my perch on my cushions as I see two athletes battling it out, both exemplary and both flawless – it doesn’t matter that they don’t speak my language or that they can’t hear me through the screen.  The elation I feel as I do a victory lap around my living room having just watched someone achieve absolute perfection and a world record leaves me feeling like I’ve just won the gold.  It doesn’t matter if they’re from my home or not.Unknown-1

This great spectacle of empathy allows us to celebrate the triumphs and lows of the individual, but it draws us together in one world of experience.  And that is magical!  And while I will be sad when the closing ceremonies turn the lights out on the athletes partying on the stadium floor, I will have been enriched by witnessing others strive to be their absolute best, not just to themselves, but to their fellow competitors, to the dogs of Sochi and to the human race!Unknown-2

Fitness Apps

Brain vs. App

Brain vs. App

A mechanic friend of mine is fond of saying, “The computer is not the brain.  The computer is a tool for the mechanic’s brain.”  Sure there are a lot of really cool new fitness apps and new-fangled techno gear all claiming to give you the best workout.  But how good can it be when that same workout has also been given to literally thousands of other people?

Each person has their own strengths and weaknesses and their own quirky habits and patterns, some good, some bad. A fitness app should not be a replacement for a coach, trainer or therapist. It is a tool to help you get to be your best self.  And there are some really groovy tools (check out UP24 by Jawbone.) https://jawbone.com/up

Think of it this way: think of how much information is stored in your computer.  It’s unlikely

App = Tool

App = Tool

that you will ever use all the information available to you.  To that end, an app can help support your efforts to change behaviors but it is a tool not a brain.  The trainer, coach or therapist is the brain! They thrive on dorking out on sport sciences. They absorb all these areas of expertise and then tailor select information to a program that is perfect and effective for you!  They will then likely suggest apps that help you stay on track with the areas you want to change.

I’m not saying everyone should run out and spend money that you don’t have on an Olympic level coach, but as anyone who’s tried to navigate the software service of a utility company, finding a human with the answers is what you really want!

Sochi 2014

Sochi 2014

Think about pro level athletes: they use high tech tools every day but you don’t see any of them showing up to Sochi armed with only an app on their phone.  An app cannot identify a structural imbalance or a flaw in technique or a faulty movement pattern.  An app cannot see your face when you start to struggle and give you the encouragement to keep going.  An app cannot help you stretch or massage a closed joint capsule or strained muscle.  An app can remind you to eat better, can track your sleeping habits and can show you data documenting your improvements.

Consider using a trainer, coach or therapist AND an app!  You don’t have to train with someone three times a week; it could be once a week for eight weeks or once a month for a checkup/update.  Maybe you could train with your best friend for a half hour a week?  But know there are a lot of options, more so when you use your apps + your humans as a team.  Get good at using your tools to lift you to VICTORY.

Link

images“DID YOU KNOW?

Abdominals make-up only HALF of your core muscles. The core refers to the deep muscles of your torso, the entire cylinder, not just the front! The muscles of your core are: pelvic floor, erector spinae, multifidus, longissimus thoracis, diaphragm, transverse abdominus, internal/external obliques and rectus abdominus. You could have strong abs and a weak core, if you only focus on sit-ups.”

Hey Victory Fitness Fans, to read the rest of this article I published at http://www.Exercise.Answers.Com: click on the link below and get your abs working for you!

 

“Perfect Practice Makes Perfect”

“Perfect Practice Makes Perfect.” That’s what my coach used to say to me.  And it’s true when working out in the gym.  Yes, we all feel tired; it’s been a long day, the daylight is short, we’re burned out after the holidays.  And easily we can think, getting to the gym and sleepwalking through the workout is better than not working at all, right?

animal-friends-good-score

Well, I would like to suggest an alternative. Be deliberate in your movements.  Yes, it’s easy to imagine not moving from your couch and it is vitally important to get the foot in the door to workout.  But a conscious twenty minute workout is far more effective than being a Scooby-Doo-like zombie sliding from machine to machine.

Even if you’re not tired you’re mind might be racing to the grocery list, the preparation of a post-workout meal and that work call you have to return before the day is out.  Or maybe, you’re having a completely out of body experience and are mentally sitting in the audience of The X Factor, while glazing at the tv screen in front of your treadmill.  All of these scenarios involve “mindless” working out and that is not only far less effective, it’s actually dangerous.  If you’re doing a lunge and you’re mind is on autopilot your knee is likely to drunkenly swagger and you’re foot will go it’s own route from the rest of you and the next thing you know you’re sitting in your orthopedist’s office hearing the words “scope, repair, miniscus tear.”

When I teach my clients how to do a fencer’s lunge I like to use this example.  “Ok, you’re one of the three musketeers and you’re about to challenge someone to a duel. If you sloppily and lethargically lunge at your opponent, you’re gonna just knick them and that’s probably gonna just piss them off and then they’re gonna kick your ass.  If you start something you better mean it.  If you perform a lunge every line in your body should be clean and activated.”

My point: if you’re working out, make it count.  Move with deliberate control and the unison of your mind and body. It’s ok if you workout is short, but make it a perfect practice.

Flash Sale – Victory Fitness

SantaBootCampOk, Elves! Christmas is one week away!!! Time to throw it into high gear!

Sign a loved one or yourself up today for Victory Fitness Online Personal Training and get an extra session on Santa’s tab!

Merry Christmas from Victory Fitness!