Change Your Choices

Change Your Life…Tips for a healthier you

Born To Run or Too Hot to Run?

I’m combining two earlier posts, Born to Run from June 2 and How Hot is Too Hot from June 27 because both collided for me this morning.

The good news- about 6 weeks ago I decided to take running seriously.  I could never run more that a minute or two at a time and I wanted to change that.  Well, I now run 3 miles (in a row!!)  and have run 5 miles (in a row!!) once.  I have averaged 9-10 minute miles but have done a few in 8 minutes.  I used a “couch to 5k” training regimen and it is working.  Never in my life did I think I would look forward to running and never did I think I would run a mile, let alone 5.  So- if you think you can’t do it, think again.

The bad news- it has been HOT here.  I like hot and I don’t mind humid but we are in the longest hot spell that I can remember.  I have advised against exercising in the heat because even the most physically fit people can succumb to heat stroke.  Perhaps I need to heed my own advice.  I was excited to go out for a Sunday run as I had plenty of time and could really push it.  However, the temp at 6:30 am was almost 80 and the sun was shining brilliantly in a cloudless sky.  This should have been a warning sign but I went out anyway.

 

Another warning sign- I ran into my friend Tracy out on the trail, she was on her way back from a long run.  This girl is an experienced marathoner and had her tool belt filled with water bottles.  We stopped for a 5 second chat and she basically said it was a really tough run and she was dying.  (not literally, but close!).  At that point I should have gone back home.  If Tracy is struggling, an amateur like me would be in trouble.

But, no, dammit.  This is my day off and I’m going to run.  I started off well but it didn’t take long for the heat and humidity to catch up.  At this point I was running downhill with the sun at my back.  Did I think about the return trip being uphill and into the blazing sun?  Of course not!  Did I bring water?  No, that would have been too smart.

I did make it 1.5 miles before I had to slow down and walk.  At that point, I started to get goosebumps which is a warning sign of heat stroke.  I did not heed the warning and started my run back home.  Up the hill, into the sun, panting and pushing.  Sweat does nothing to cool a body at such a high dew point so my body was just heating and heating.  I would like to be dramatic and say I passed out and handsome young EMT’s came to my rescue but I made it home alive with no real problems.  However, I was a bit dizzy and had a tough time cooling down.  The worst thing to do is jump into a cold shower so I just wiped down with a damp towel until I felt better.

What’s the takeaway?  Running is fun.  Running burns tons of calories.  Running helps clear your mind.  But- running in the heat and humidity is dumb.  Go to the gym or do an indoor cardio workout like jumping jacks, jump roping or high knee running in place.

Perhaps this week I will practice what I preach! Take it easy- triple digits are in the forecast.

 

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How Hot is Too Hot? Right Now it is TOO HOT!

DO NOT EXERCISE IN THIS HEAT!!!

 

 

I love hot weather and I love to workout but sometimes the two don’t mix.  A co-worker just went by my office and said he was going for a run. Now, I’m sitting in a freezing cold office so a run outside sounds good.  However, it is 92 degrees and we are under a heat advisory.  I don’t care how elite you are as an athlete, temps like that will kill you.  Seriously.  Go to the gym or take a day off from working out.  No matter how much you drink or how well you prepare- you could die.  It happens all the time.  As much as we love to sweat- this isn’t the right weather for it.

If you won’t listen to me, listen to the Mayo Clinic:

How heat affects your body

“Exercising in hot weather puts extra stress on your body. If you don’t take care when exercising in the heat, you risk serious illness. Both the exercise itself and the air temperature increase your core body temperature. To help cool itself, your body sends more blood to circulate through your skin. This leaves less blood for your muscles, which in turn increases your heart rate. If the humidity also is high, your body faces added stress because sweat doesn’t readily evaporate from your skin. That pushes your body temperature even higher.

Heat-related illness “Under normal conditions, your skin, blood vessels and perspiration level adjust to the heat. But these natural cooling systems may fail if you’re exposed to high temperatures and humidity for too long, you sweat heavily and you don’t drink enough fluids. The result may be a heat-related illness. Heat-related illnesses occur along a spectrum, starting out mild but worsening if left untreated.

Heat illnesses include: Heat cramps. Heat cramps are painful muscle contractions, mainly affecting the calves, quadriceps and abdominals. Affected muscles may feel firm to the touch. Your body temperature may be normal.

Heat exhaustion. With heat exhaustion, your body temperature rises as high as 104 F (40 C) and you may experience nausea, vomiting, headache, fainting, weakness and cold, clammy skin. If left untreated, this can lead to heatstroke.

Heatstroke. Heatstroke is a life-threatening emergency condition that occurs when your body temperature is greater than 104 F (40 C). Your skin may be hot, but your body may stop sweating to help cool itself. You may develop confusion and irritability. You need immediate medical attention to prevent brain damage, organ failure or even death.”

 

There you have it.  It is just too damn hot to exercise outside.  I’m going to sit back with a bottle of Bud Light 55 and be thankful that I went out for a run at 5am!

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Is there anything other than water?

We all know that we need to stay hydrated but there are very few options that are good for you.  I’m a big fan of Diet Pepsi but the more I read, the more I realize that there could be some long-term side effects.  I used to have 1 can a day, which isn’t  much, but I’m trying to eliminate it completely.  I have recently started drinking coffee, I find it really does give me more energy when I drink it before a workout but it isn’t my beverage of choice.

I have a few beers a week, usually Bud Light 55, but it’s not like I can sit around drinking beer all day!  I have been drinking lots and lots of water.  So much water that I really need to find an alternative.  I like water, but it gets boring.  There are thousands of choices in beverages, most of them full of sugar and calories.  Luckily, the Nu val system came to the rescue and I found a couple of awesome choices!

I have always felt that Vitamin Water is a bit of a scam because the ingredients in order are: filtered water and crystalline fructose (sugar).  One bottle is 250 calories. Ouch.

But- Vitamin Water has now come out with a flavored water that is naturally sweetened with stevia.  Zero Calories.  Nu Val score of 56- pretty much unheard of in the world of beverages.  Also,  the three I have tried taste great!  I especially like the lemonade and the orange flavor contains electrolytes so it’s refreshing after a sweaty workout. (also good if you have the flu and are losing fluids).

You need to be careful, the full sugar variety of Vitamin Water looks just like it so read the label.  Or just look for the Nu Val score if you are lucky enough to shop at a store that uses this system!

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Born to Run…part 2

My new mantra!

 

A few weeks back I wrote about my struggle to run. Running has just not been my favorite thing to do but there are so many reasons to run that I just had to give it another shot.   Why run?

1- It’s Easy.  Well, by easy I mean that you don’t need to learn any rules or do something completely different.  We have all run at one point in our lives, some of us just quit doing it.

2- It’s Cheap.  The equipment needed for running can be pretty inexpensive compared to other sports.  A good pair of running shoes does not have cost $100+, in fact, many of the top rated shoes are much less than that.  I would suggest investing in some good moisture wicking socks with padding in the toe and heel.  Also- get a decent sports bra, one that holds you in place.  Any old t-shirt and shorts will do, although shorts with a built-in compression short or panty are super comfortable.  I also have a running skort that I love but still feel awkward when I wear it.  You don’t need to belong to a gym to run, there is no charge to run outside! (I know, for those of us in the snow belt this can get challenging in the winter).

3-It’s Not Easy- Wait…what?  Why would I want to do something that’s not easy? Didn’t I just say that it was easy?  You’re doing this for a variety of reasons- to lose weight, heart health, cardio health, etc.  Well, running torches more calories that pretty much anything else because it ain’t easy! Running also gives your ticker a world-class workout.  When your legs hit their stride they squeeze blood toward your heart, which in turn forces it to pump the blood right back. The faster you run, the harder your heart works and the stronger it gets.  And that ain’t easy!

4- It’s GOOD for your knees! Contrary to popular belief,  running doesn’t wreck your joints. Osteoarthritis (the most common type of arthritis), occurs when joint-cushioning cartilage starts to break down.  The biggest osteoarthritis risk factor besides age? Body weight.  Runners are much more likely to be at a normal weight than members of the sedentary population, significantly decreasing their risk of osteoarthritis.

Running also bolsters your cartilage by increasing oxygen flow and flushing out toxins, and by strengthening the ligaments around your joints. Hitting the trail also gives your bones a boost, helping to prevent osteoporosis.
Though it’s important to treat all running injuries and to replace your shoes often, in the end, running will build your joints up, not tear them down.

5- You’ll stress less.  Running is a great way to get away from it all.  DON’T bring your phone!  If you feel more secure with it in case of emergency, leave it turned off.  Do you really think the world will end if no one can reach you for 30 minutes?  The world will be fine and you will be MUCH better.  Let your mind wander, play some tunes or just listen to your breathing and the birds.

6- You are only competing against yourself.  I’m not a very competitive person so beating someone else just isn’t that big of a deal.  However, running faster or longer or lifting more weight or doing more reps than I did before is very motivating.  I only have to defeat myself!


6- Running can prevent disease.  Most experts agree that regular exercise reduces the risk of many kinds of cancer, including some of the scariest: colon, breast, endometrial, and lung. Runners, joggers, and walkers also have a leg up against heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, and running has been shown to lower blood pressure, raise good cholesterol, and boost immunity to colds and other viruses.

7- You’ll probably live longer- and probably live better! In perhaps the most surprising study done on the health benefits of running, a team at the Stanford University School of Medicine studied 538 runners and 423 healthy non-runners from 1984 until 2005. All of the subjects were over 50 and were asked to take a disability questionnaire each year measuring simple tasks like cutting meat, shampooing hair, and opening a milk carton.
Every year, the disability levels were significantly lower in the group of runners than in the non-runners, and they became more different as both groups aged.
Even more interesting (though admittedly morbid)?  At the end of the study, 85% of the runners were still alive, while only 66% of the non-runners were.

Ok, now that we know why we should run- how to we do it?  For me, it was signing up for a 5K so I had a goal.  I used to run a minute or two (if even that long) and stop because I just didn’t feel like running.  After I signed up for an official run, I knew there was no turning back.  There are loads of training articles on the internet- just search for 5k training to get started.  I like running to a beat so I went to jog.fm to check the minutes per mile on my favorite songs and set up a playlist.

I ran my first timed 5K this past weekend, my goal was to finish in 30 minutes but my music kept me going and I finished in 27.  But- I was sure happy to see that finish line.  10k’s will have to wait!

 

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What a Beautiful Sunday!

It is a beautiful day in Northeast Wisconsin- we don’t get many so we really take advantage of them.  I finished Rug Doctoring the rest of the house, pulled weeds, cleaned the kitchen, changed the sheets and then decided I had to stop this foolishness and get outside.  Yes, the weeds were outside but pulling them doesn’t count as fun.

I finally got the bike out of the basement, I cycle 3 times a week but I do it indoors so I never go anywhere!  How refreshing to actually get from Point A to Point B.  Except…Point B was McDonald’s.  Those darn chocolate chip cookies were calling to me and I couldn’t resist.  Have  you ever gone through the drive-thru on your bike?  I just did it for the first time- the kid at the first window said he rode his bike to work and couldn’t wait to ride home and the second kid…get this…said “I guess you are working these off before you eat them!”  Hahahahahaha….I love sassy teens.

I started thinking about working off these cookies and had to do some research.  I love wireless and a laptop- I can sit out on the deck and do this.  The only issue is my  legs are sweating and I’m sliding around on my plastic chairs, might have to get a towel!  Anyway, let’s get back on topic.

McDonald’s sells these horrible fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies- 3 for $1.  They really aren’t horrible, they are AWESOME.  Chewy and melty and perfect.  Except:

Calories (in EACH cookie)=160. Eat all three and it comes to… ALOT.  (I’m not even going to do the math)

Each cookie has 8 grams  of fat, 3.5 of which are saturated and 15 g of sugar (about 4 tsp.)  Take that times 3 and you also get ALOT!

So- to justify this wonderful treat, I went to my favorite calorie calculator at http://www.healthstatus.com/calculate/cbc.  I entered my weight, picked my activity and duration. 30 minutes of biking at 12 -14 mph burned 267 calories.  That seems like a lot of work to burn 1.5 cookies!  Calorie calculators are a great way to either congratulate yourself for a job well done or to give yourself a wake-up call.

Moral of the story- It’s a beautiful day, I burned some calories and really enjoyed my cookies.  Sometimes you just gotta treat yourself for all the hard work you do.  Just don’t do it too often!  Hope you are having a great day and are looking forward to a healthy week.

They baked these cookies just for me so I HAVE to eat them!

 

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Born To Run?

 

 

Today’s post is a bit more like reading a journal so bear with me.  I’m working on a goal here and need all of you to hold me accountable!

Ever since I have started seriously exercising (about 10 years ago), I have tried to run.  I run for a minute and give up in frustration because I just don’t enjoy it.  Where’s the runners high?  Where’s that feeling of exhilaration that I hear about from all my runner friends?  I just get cranky because I just can’t do it.  I know,” can’t means won'”t so I decided to give it one last shot.

If I was going to attempt to be a runner, I needed a goal.  I am taking this in baby-steps so my goal is a 5k.  (I have done one 5k before, but I don’t think the course was  that long and I ended up walking a lot of it.)  5k= 3 miles plus 188 yards.

There is a Packers 5k at Lambeau Field in July and that seemed to be a good way to start.  Run through Lambeau, get a free t-shirt…this will be fun.  I mentioned it to my boss who said “get 50 people together as a team and I’ll pay the entry fee.”  Well, this is getting serious!  If I organize a team, I have to run it.  In my excitement, I signed myself up for the 9-11 minute wave even though I had never actually run 1 whole mile in my life, let alone 3!  Whew- that’s what’s known as setting a goal.  I know, it can be called other things but I’m calling it a goal!

I first had to figure out why I can’t (won’t ) run.  My cardio endurance is good from cycling, my legs, knees, and hips are fine so there is no physical reason why I can’t run.  Shoot, that means it’s all in my head which is probably harder to fix than if it were a physical issue.

I bought some new shoes, cranked up the ipod and headed out for my first serious stab at running.  I read a few articles about running for a length of time vs running for distance and went with time.  How about 2 minutes?  haha…seriously, I am not kidding- 2 minutes and I was ready to stop.  But I didn’t, I made myself do 5.  I would like to say I kept going but I slowed to a brisk walk at 5 minutes.  I don’t want to be too crazy!

I’ve been going for a run almost daily for about 2 weeks now and am excited that I can now do 3 miles in just under 30 minutes without stopping.  This is on the treadmill in the gym, running outside is still a bit of a challenge with all the hills and wind and stuff.  (I love excuses).  I am getting outside more and pushing myself to run 15 minutes before taking a walk break.  I still haven’t experienced that running high, but it is very exciting to see the treadmill hit 3 miles. Small victories are awesome!  The next goal is to run 3 miles (in a row!) outside, and then see if I can maybe speed it up a bit.

I’m a big believer in setting reasonable goals and sticking to them.  Even if  you are in good shape, it’s fun to give yourself a challenge.  If you aren’t in such good shape, goals can help you get there.  Sometimes a goal is as easy as a walk around the block before dinner.  Then make it 2 blocks, then 3….you see where this is going.  We can’t be awesome right out of the gate–sometimes we need to build up to it!

 

What’s your goal?  Don’t have one?  Why not?

 

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Ouch! My anterior tibialis hurts.

It sounds pretty scary when the medical term is used but what I’m suffering from is shin splints.  A shin splint is pain in the lower front part of the leg along the shin bone.  This is a fairly common type of muscle trauma and it seems to hit at any given time.  Even a small change in your routine can cause this pain.

I walk, cycle, and lift weights several times a week, usually indoors over the past few months.  The weather is finally getting nice so I went outside to walk which is the cause of this pain.  Any change of surface affects your stride, foot strike, and movement which stresses different muscles and bones.  Instead of easing into this change of pavement, I walked for an hour on Sunday.  And not just a walk, it was with my daughter and her dog, a big Doberman who made  us keep up a fast pace the whole time.  I think dogs are one of the best pieces of exercise equipment a person can have!  Too bad I only have cats, they are only good for stretching.  (and they aren’t much help with that, either)

Another reason for this shin pain?  Lack of warm-up and cool down stretching.  We were so anxious to get out and go that we skipped the basics.  Lots of people will be heading outside to walk, run, garden, etc. without taking the proper precautions and will be really sore for a few days after.  While you can’t entirely avoid sore muscles (especially if you have been dormant all winter) taking a few minutes before and after will prevent some of the pain.

What should you do when you get shin splints? Rest it the best treatment but I hate to rest and waste the few nice days we get each year.   I also need to keep burning calories to make up for how much I eat! If rest is not an option, try some low or no-impact activities like cycling or swimming until your shins feel better.  Ice packs are good and some light stretching will help.

I’m sure my shin splints are from taking such a long walk, but I think it’s time to get some new shoes as well.

Have you looked at your workout shoes lately?  They could also cause more harm than good when they start to wear out. As a general rule, most running and walking shoes last up to 500 miles. How and where  you use your shoes could alter that number. For example, pavement wears down shoes faster than a track, a trail or gravel. Also keep in mind that shoes with an EVA midsole tend to wear down faster than shoes with a polyurethane midsole. I tend to replace mine every 6 months but there are better ways to determine if you need new shoes.

Do the Press Test:

To determine if the midsoles of your shoes are compressed and are no longer providing cushioning, do the press test. Using your thumb, push on the outsole upward into the midsole. With new shoes, it should be easy to see the midsole compress into lines or wrinkles. As the shoe wears down, the midsole compresses less with the same amount of pressure. When the midsole shows heavy compression lines and the press test reveals a  minimal amount of compression, there is little or no cushioning left.

Look at Your Shoes:

Don’t worry about how dirty they are. That’s a good thing. It means you’ve been using them. What you should be concerned with is general wear and tear. Take a look at your shoes. Are the heels stretched out? Are places on the outsoles worn down? Can you see how the shoes have molded to your foot? These are all signs of excessive wear.

How Do They Feel?

Your body will know when there is little or no cushioning left in your shoes. If you  notice any aches or pains in your feet, legs, knees, hips or back after you’ve worn your  shoes, it’s a good sign that you need a new pair. Other signs include friction or blisters in unexpected places, which means your shoes have stretched and your feet are moving around too much.

It’s time to get up and move around, Ouch- those shins are going to hurt.  As a trainer once told me- pain is the bad stuff leaving your body.

Get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather!

My walking partner needed to rest as well!

 

 

 

 

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Why Use a Foam Roller?

Yesterday I talked about the torture device that is otherwise known as a foam roller.  Why on earth would a person use something that causes so much physical discomfort?  Now that I know the details and have been using it for a few weeks, I can honestly say it is worth it.

Are you currently suffering from knee pain? Do you feel tension in your knees or hips when you walk up or down stairs? Does your lower back feel tight, or even hurt, when you have done a lot of cardio or leg-work? Do you have joint pain when squatting down to pick up objects on the ground? If you answered yes to any of these questions- or even if you didn’t,  you should think about lengthening and loosening your leg muscles and their fibers using a foam roller.

A warning- if you have never used a foam roller it might be incredibly painful.  This is especially important if you are very heavy or not able to hold up a portion of your body weight.  You might want to work with a trainer if you are a beginner.  Remember, the more painful it is, the more you need it.  And it really does get better.  Not enjoyable, but better!

Most people (including me) use the roller after a workout, but research shows that it is also beneficial before a workout to ensure joints remain pain free during that lengthy squat series or  long run.

I found this great workout at realjock.com:

General Instructions As you foam roll along muscles and tissue, you will run into knots or areas where the muscle fibers have tightened up and actually started to bond together. You will know when you find them because each one will feel like a painful speed bump as you roll over it. At these points, try to sit directly on top of the tight area (still on the foam roller) and count to 20 slowly. Often, you will actually be able to feel the fibers gradually release and spread open. While on the foam roller, try your best to maintain deep, relaxing breaths while keeping the area/muscle being rolled completely relaxed (don’t flex it!).

FOAM ROLLER LEG STRETCHES
Iliotibial Band (IT Band)
Lie on your side on the floor and place the foam roller perpendicular to your body under your lower hip. Let your upper leg either lie in front of your lower leg with your upper foot on the floor, or, to really put some weight on the lower leg and dig deep, stack your upper leg directly on top of your lower leg. Propped up and walking on your elbows, slowly start to roll the foam roller down your IT band towards your knee, remember to stop and hold for a 20 count on each knot. Roll all the way until you reach the side of your knee. Repeat on opposite leg.
Hip Flexors (Iliopsoas)
Lie face down, again with the foam roller perpendicular to your body, but with just the very end portion of the foam roller under your right hip flexors (where your right pants pocket is). Propped up on elbows and toes, you want your left leg to be hanging free off the end of the foam roller. Now, slowly roll across your right pocket-area from your belt line down to the bottom of the pocket. Do one side, then switch to your left hip flexor and repeat.
Quadriceps (Center, Outer/Lateral, Inner/Medial)
Treat this the same as your hip flexors and only do one leg at a time while the other leg hangs free off the end of the foam roller. As with the hip flexors, start face down on the roller, with one leg on the roller at the hip and the other leg free. Since your quads are such a large area of muscle, roll straight down the center of your leg. Next, roll down both the outside and inside 45-degree angle of the quad for both legs. Start at the hip and slowly roll towards the knee with each leg and angle, stopping for 20 counts on all adhesions/knots.
Shins (Anterior Tibialis)
This one is great for runners and people who experience shin splints. Place the foam roller perpendicular to your body and kneel over the roller so that both shins are on top of the roller. Sit your butt to your heels, with your knees off the floor and your hands in front of the foam roller on the floor for balance. The muscle you are trying to roll is found directly to the outside of your shin bone (tibia) on each leg. Shift your weight to the outside of your right leg and roll that muscle from knee to ankle, then shift weight to the left leg and repeat.
Inner Thigh (Adductors)
This one can be a tough area to hit, but if your adductors (inner thighs) are tight, you will definitely be able to help them open up. Propped up in a plank position on your elbows and toes, lay the foam roller at a 45-degree angle to your body. Open your right knee out (externally rotating your leg at your hip), and lay your right inner thigh on the foam roller just above the knee. Then slowly roll the foam roller from your knee up your inner thigh, as high as you can comfortably go, keeping as much weight on the roller as possible. Swap and repeat on opposite leg.
Calves (Center, Outer/Lateral, Inner/Medial)
Sit tall on the floor with the foam roller perpendicular to your legs and lying underneath the top portion of your calves. Start with the left leg by crossing the right leg across the left, resting the right leg directly on top of the left leg’s shin in order to put more weight on the leg being rolled. Slowly roll down towards your ankle. Try to roll the center portion and the inner and outer portion of each calf on each leg (like we did with the quadriceps). If you can also lift your butt off the ground using your hands to put more weight/force on the calves, you will get a better stretch. However, people’s arms often get too tired to support their bodies for a long time with this method. You can also try pointing and flexing your ankle when you find tough knots in order to help the fibers open and expand. Repeat this movement on each calf.
Hamstrings
Hamstrings can be extremely dense and tight, and therefore a foam roller usually isn’t hard enough to help open these muscles. To solve this problem, you should work with a denser and smaller object, such as a baseball or lacrosse ball. Start in a seated position on the edge of a firm surface (this must be a solid surface like a wooden bench instead of a padded workout bench) so that your legs can hang freely off the edge without touching the ground. Then lift one thigh and place the hard ball directly under the tightest section of your hamstring. (If you are unsure which area of your hamstring is the tightest, stand up and with straight legs bend over and touch your toes. You should be able to feel which area of the hamstring tightens up the quickest and limits your ability to touch the ground. Place your fingers on this area and then place the ball directly underneath that area once you return to your seat.) Once you have the ball under the tight area, lean forward so that you have some pressure on the ball and slowly straighten your knee on the leg being stretched so that the fibers are forced to move and expand around the ball. Then slowly allow your knee to bend back to the rest position. Lengthen your knee for five reps at each of five tight points on the back of each hamstring. You can also use your hand to place additional pressure on the leg being stretched while you bend and straighten your knee. Place as much pressure on it as you can handle. To find additional tight spots, stand up and try to touch your toes again with straight legs, placing your fingers on the limiting area of your hamstrings.
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Foam Roller- a great torture device

I was introduced to the foam roller about a year ago when I bought one at the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon.  No, I’m not a participant, I hand out bratwurst at the end!  But, I heard so much about foam rollers and how awesome they are that I bought one.  My husband had been using one with his physical therapist and said it was quite painful but, seriously, how painful can it be to roll on a piece of foam?

How painful?  The first time I tried this my options were: scream in pain, bite a hole in my lip, or quit.  Yes, I quit.  Why on earth would anyone willingly do this to themselves?

According to About.com:

The superficial fascia is a soft connective tissue located just below the skin. It wraps and connects the muscles, bones, nerves and blood vessels of the body. Together, muscle and fascia make up what is called the myofascia system. For various reasons including disuse, not enough stretching, or injuries, the fascia and the underlying muscle tissue can become stuck together. This is called an adhesion and it results in restricted muscle movement. It also causes pain, soreness and reduced flexibility and range of motion.

What does this mean?  Basically, these tissues are like cooked spaghetti noodles that are wrapped around your muscles, bones, etc.  Like spaghetti noodles left in a pan, these tissues will stick together if not “stirred.” The foam roller helps separate the spaghetti.

Ok- now that I know that I need to have flexible connective tissue I decided to give it another shot.  I made the mistake of trying it at the Y where it is socially unacceptable to scream in pain so I was forced to suck it up and grimace.  Holy crap, that hurts.  But the pain means this is something that I really need to do so I tried it again.  I would love to say that the second rollout was better, but it wasn’t.  It is also unacceptable to swear at the Y so my cursing was all internal.

I was rolling my IT band from knee to hip, perhaps rolling on my quads would be better so I switched from my side to lying on top of the roller and went from knee to hip down the front.  Aaaaaaaggggghhhhhhh- all these cycling sessions have caused lots of knots in my muscles that were being untied with this f***ing roller.  Ok- that sucks.  Let’s try hamstrings.  I sat on the roller and rolled from butt to knees.  I have to admit that I cheated and used my arms to hold up some body weight but this was still fairly unpleasant.

This torture episode was a few weeks ago and I have been religiously using the roller every few days since.  Yes, it has gotten much better and I can tell that it is working.  It would be very easy to give up but sometimes you just have to dig deep and do it in order to improve.

I still don’t like the foam roller, but I can tolerate it and have accepted it as a part of my routine.  Someday my body will thank me for putting it through this torture!  I’ll share some tips and techniques tomorrow so we can all experience the fun of foam rolling!

Yes, I know it looks harmless.

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New Workouts!

 

 

I’ve been stuck in a rut at the gym.  I teach cycle 2 days a week, lift weights 2-3 days and maybe some walking or running tossed in.  Problem is, I do pretty much the same thing everyday and it was getting dull.  I also didn’t have sore muscles for a while so either I was in top-notch shape or I wasn’t challenging myself enough.

I looked through some magazines, pulled out the Big Book of Exercises and did some searching online.  I found a couple of routines that looked intriguing and gave them a try.  Both of these routines incorporate cardio and WOW!  I found out that I was not in top-notch shape and in fact, I needed to push myself.  If you are having trouble pushing yourself, I suggest either getting some workout DVD’s, look on You Tube, or join a class at the gym. And…don’t give up!

The first routine is from a blog called “A Better Bag of Groceries.”  It is written by Melissa, who happens to work for Nu Val.  I changed the routine a bit, this is original http://www.abetterbagofgroceries.com/2012/02/full-body-workout-fast/. Go to Melissa’s blog to see videos of each movement, I need to upgrade this blog to embed videos and I’m not ready to do that yet!

The first time I did this workout, I did all jump roping during the cardio portion and my calves hurt for a week so I switched it up, feel free to use your own cardio but be sure to do it, this really keeps your heart pumping!   Here’s my version:

Warm Up– 5 minutes of walking, running, rowing, cycling, stair climbing or jump roping (though you will get plenty of that coming up!)

Jump Rope for 30 seconds (I don’t use a rope, it’s easier and more efficient without it!)

The original workout has 2 minutes of each strength move.  My goal was 2 minutes, my actual might be closer to 90 seconds.  I also had to decrease my weights when I got going because this is a lot of reps.

 

Clean and Press- 2 minutes (or so)

Your option to go to tip-toes. I choose not!

Cardio- jump rope, running, rowing, cycling, burpees, jumping jacks.   Your choice for 1 minute.  Sometimes I do :30 of two different moves

Seated Row with band- see video.  This can also be done with weights if you don’t have a band. Goal- 2 minutes 

Seated Row with Band

Cardio- your choice 1 minute

Whew!  Time to take a quick drink of water

Chest Fly– this can be done on a bench or floor, I use the ball for some extra credit. Head and shoulders resting on ball, keep hips pressed up to give your glutes and hams something to do.

Chest fly on ball

Cardio- your choice 1 minute

T-Raises- look at the video, adjust weights as needed, this could be tough on your rotator cuff if you are too heavy.  Otherwise switch to upright rows with dumbbells or band.

Upright row

Cardio- Your choice 1 minute.

**Don’t give up!  Take a drink and keep going!

Bicep Curl with Band  or dumbbells– I gobetween band and dumbbells each workout just to keep it interesting.  Be sure to keep your knees soft, elbows in and don’t grasp the band or dumbbell tightly.  Think about your bicep doing the work, not your hand or forearm.

Bicep curl with band

Cardio- Yes!  1 more minute of cardio

Skull Crushers- Don’t let the name scare you.  And don’t crush your skull!  This can be done on a bench but I prefer to use the ball to once again work my glutes and hams.  Concentrate on your tricep (back of upper arm-yuk!).  Your shoulders and back will try to help but don’t let them.  You will  never get rid of those bat wings unless you make them work.

Skull crushers. This can also be done on a bench or mat.

Cardio- Last 1 minute!

V-Sit– the original workout has knee tucks on the ball, I prefer v-ups. I do :30 active and hold :30 and then do it again. I don’t use weights but might add them later.

If you still have time, do all the strength moves one more time, eliminating the cardio.  I do 10 reps of each as a quickie set.  I also do a squat/lunge series as I need more leg/hip/butt work!

Follow up with a good stretching session. Do this every other day.  I do cardio (cycling or running) on the in between days.

Ahhhhhh…….time to hit the shower!

 

 

 

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