Categories
Exercises

The Power of a Good Warm Up

The proper warm up should increase your core body temperature and help increase blood flow to your muscles. This will help prepare your body for strenuous exercise by stimulating the nervous system. It will also activate muscle groups and improve joint mobility and flexibility. Using the correct warm up sequence for your workout can even increase your muscle’s ability to produce force and power.

The Best Warm-Up Exercises

There is actually no set warmup routine that can be considered “the best.” Your plan should be to warm up specifically for whatever activity you are working on that day. This means your warm ups should change with every workout. 

As a rule of thumb:

  • use the correct stretches to go through the range of motion that you’re going to be working through in your workout that day
  • reinforce proper movement patterns
  • it should last anywhere between five to fifteen minutes

Not warming up can pose a risk for injury, so take the time to research the dynamic moves and stretches that are specific to your workout before you head out to the gym.

5 Key Components of a Strong Pre-Workout Routine

The video I’ve included in this article is my latest Youtube video created to help you increase your mobility and range of motion in order to execute a precise and powerful roundhouse kick. You can use this video as both a dynamic warm up and as a progression workout to increase coordination and balance, to practice precise placement of your feet and to maximize the height of your kick.

For all other workouts, you can create your own warm-up routines by following these guidelines:

  1. Raise your pulse —think three to five minutes of aerobic exercise (walk, bike, jog, skip rope) to get your blood pumping.
  2. Use controlled dynamic sequences—for leg days think leg swings, hip rotations, inchworms and other lower body movements. For upper body days, go for torso rotations, dive-bomber push-ups and arm and shoulder rotations. 
  3. Incorporate minimal static stretching—static stretches are best for after your workout, since static stretching before your workout can lead to poor workout performance according to research. However, there are one or two sport specific static stretches that can help increase your range of motion for a particular workout. i.e. 20 second quad or calf stretches for runners.
  4. Run through sport specific skill drills—i.e. Shooting, dribbling and passing drills for ball sports. For weightlifting, do warm-up sets of no weight or lower weight and resistance before you increase load and volume.

Static or Dynamic: What’s the Difference?

Keep in mind that dynamic stretching is used to improve mobility (often done in the manner of the activity or sport that is going to be performed) while static stretching requires that you hold the stretch without moving (usually the muscle is at the end of its range). 

Although there is no long-term evidence of direct harm from static stretching prior to a workout, you will temporarily decrease your ability to produce force. Whereas dynamic stretching has been shown to significantly increase the ability of your muscles to produce force, according to a 2005 study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

Times have changed, you no longer hold 15 stretches for 20-60 seconds each before jumping into a rigorous workout. The proper warm up can have huge implications for improved muscular performance throughout a muscle’s entire range-of-motion—all the while protecting the body’s joints during activity. 

To staying positively strong, powerful, and flexible,

Sunny

Categories
Exercises

Maximize the Long-Term Cognitive Benefits of Physical Exercise

When most people think about aging gracefully, it’s often about keeping the wrinkles at bay or doing a weekly sudoku puzzle to stay mentally sharp.  Since the wrinkles are rapidly creeping up on me as well, I don’t have much advice on that front— other than suggesting that a healthy and varied diet of fish, fresh produce, and tons of water is what seems to slow them down.

I can, however, provide you with some interesting research on how varying up your usual routine can have long-term benefits for your cognitive health.

What’s at Play

Our brains store memories inside nerve cells. Multiple nerve cells communicate with one another through the release of chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. Even though we lose some brain cells and our brains generate fewer neurotransmitters as we age, we have the ability to produce natural growth-promoting molecules called neurotrophins. Neurotrophins signal particular nerve cells to develop, grow, function, or survive and it is the release of these neurotrophins that can help fight off the effects of mental aging. 

To start the flow of neurotrophins, the brain must be stimulated by novel experiences that disrupt our usual routines and engage the senses and emotions, according to research compiled in the book Keep Your Brain Alive: 83 Neurobic Exercises to Help Prevent Memory Loss and Increase Mental Fitness,” by neurobiologist Lawrence C. Katz, PhD and author Rubin Manning. 

Brain Aerobics

Neurobics is a term coined by Dr. Katz, to literally mean “aerobics exercises for the brain” and the book suggests that practicing different neurobic exercises can act as novel experiences for the brain. Neurobics can be done anywhere, anytime by performing simple tasks in what seems like offbeat ways.

For example, you can try closing your eyes while unlocking your front door, simply brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand, or walking backwards on a treadmill.  Our senses (vision, hearing, smell, taste and touch) all have their own sections in our brains.

Categories
Exercises

Punch Strong: The Benefits of Correct Martial Arts Technique

Why Learn Properly?

My guess is that most of the members are cardio bunnies interested in a quick cardio workout. They do not imagine themselves ever using the punching and kicking movements in a real self-defense situation. If they only knew of the real psychological and physical benefits to taking the time to learn proper, basic martial arts technique before jumping in. They’d be hooked! Correct technique for self-defence is just the tip of the ice berg, the other benefits include:

  1. Reducing Injury. Knowing how to execute a technique correctly will prevent you from throwing haphazard strikes that could lead to injury.
  2. Getting Faster. Over time, executing good technique will raise your comfort level in the movement and allow you to increase your speed.
  3. Combating Sarcopenia. Once you have a hang of proper movement and begin to build speed, you can then focus on building explosive power. Explosive training activates type II muscle fibers and is very beneficial against muscle loss (Sarcopenia).
  4. Building Confidence. As you start to polish your technique and build good habits, you will start to gain confidence in your abilities.  The more you repeat good habits, the more confident you will be the next time you enter a class.
  5. Improving Reaction Time. You will have better ability to react and improvise when needed, based on the fundamentals you have learned. Whether it be to learn new fitbox class drills, or to anticipate an opponent’s next move and react accordingly.
  6. Strengthening the Body and Mind. There is something to be said for the mind-body connection that comes from being immersed in learning challenging martial arts technique. The very process of learning martial arts can put you into a meditative or Flow State (Flow State refers to when a person performing a challenging activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus and enjoyment, according to positive psychology and research by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi). Modern neuroscience has associated a meditative or Flow State with changes in the electrical function of the brain that can relieve stress and positively affect your sleep, feelings of depression and anxiety, pain, breathing pattern, blood pressure, and heart rate.

Get to Work

So don’t jump into a cardio kickbox class and just follow the movements blindly. Instead begin by attending a martial arts class or watch videos that break down the movements for you. It may not be a quick solution, but there is such beauty and power in having the discipline to try and practice something correctly, over and over again.

I find this next quote by Bruce Lee to be very inspiring—no matter your starting level or interest in martial arts—as it can pertain to many different interests, fields and disciplines.

I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

-Bruce Lee

I don’t like hitting the gym just to cross daily cardio off of my list. I’d rather work towards something bigger. My PositivelySTRONG Hit All Body Interval Training (HABIT) videos start by introducing basic fundamental movements and building on them. With repetition, you should aim to get better and better.

This week’s video places the focus is on the humble punch as performed in two basic stances. I’ll break down some of the basics for you until you can get to an actual class, then end with a 7-minute interval training session that you can repeat as many times as possible.

As always with my videos, be sure to warm up, rest in between sets, set out to execute techniques properly, and make the workout as difficult as you need by adjusting intensity.

To starting with positively strong basics,

Sunny

Categories
Health Informational Uncategorized

Practice Gratitude to Help You Lose Weight

Were your lungs helping you breath today? Were you able to walk yourself to the bathroom and brush your teeth? Did your fingers help you deftly button up those favorite jeans of yours?

If the answer to all three questions is yes, then you are one lucky duck. I hope you realize how truly blessed you are to have working organs, limbs, and fingers.

Now close your eyes, take (and release) three big breaths, thank the universe for such good luck, smile big, and give your body a big, virtual hug for always having your back, and then go about your day as usual.

Why do this? Well science tells us that the effects of gratitude on the brain are long lasting. Practicing gratitude everyday—or even just once a week—can help:

  1. increase energy levels
  2. improve exercise patterns
  3. get better sleep
  4. decrease anxiety and depression
  5. lower stress levels
  6. increase self-love and empathy
  7. show reductions in physical ailments and pain
  8. improve optimism

A 2004 study by Emmons and McCullough even showed that keeping a gratitude journal increased determination, enthusiasm, alertness, and energy.

In effect, by practicing gratitude you could have more energy in your day to exercise. You can reduce the stress in your life to curb stress eating and emotional attachments to food. Better sleep as a result of gratitude journaling can also help you with muscle synthesis and increase energy levels to get you the best results from your workouts. All of these would work together to help you move more and eat less—the two proven ways you can shed those unwanted pounds without constant dieting.

How to Practice Gratitude

It only takes a few minutes a day to recognize, acknowledge, and practice gratitude everyday. Start with taking just a moment to jot down some notes on a notepad or on your phone. Try doing this once a week at the minimum. Keep it up for at least three months to see best results.

If you need some prompts on how to keep a gratitude journal, try choosing one topic a day from these journal prompts listed below:

Just remember, acknowledging gratitude is not about comparing yourself to how other people may be worse off than you are. Take time to really appreciate the smallest aspects of your current situation. This is where a gratitude journal can come in handy as it is something tangible that you can go back to and reflect on.

I always tell my clients that losing weight is not complex, but it is definitely complicated. Losing weight is about getting adequate exercise while eating just the right amount of calories from nutrient dense foods. The complicated part comes from daily stress, lack of sleep, lack of self-love and motivation, and physical, economical and psychological barriers. Gratitude journaling is a great tool to help you make sense of some of the complicated stuff that makes weight loss so difficult for many.

Categories
Informational

Healthy Lifestyle Resolutions: It’s Not Too Late to Start Over

weight-loss-transformation

Did the clock strike twelve, fireworks go off and you resolved that it was going to be a “New Year, New You” kind of year? Well, now that we’re midway into February, this is the perfect time to reflect on your progress to see how those resolutions you made are coming along .

Sticking With New Year’s Weight Loss Goals

Sadly, this time of year is about the same time that gyms and fitness clubs start to empty out — as half of all New Year’s resolutioners start to lose sight of their goals and give up.

The Stats

According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute‘s 2017 survey of 1,273 online, 216 phone, and 73 in-person respondents, 41% of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions.

Of those resolutioners, 32% of the resolutions were weight related.

When asked about how many actually kept with their resolutions after a month into the new year, only 58.4% of respondents felt that they kept up with their resolutions after January.

What’s more, only 9% of respondents felt that they were successful in achieving their resolutions at the end of last year. This means that 91% of the people that made New Year’s resolutions felt that they were not successful in achieving their goals — holy moly, that is a huge percentage of people that probably feel ashamed and guilty for not following through with their goals, me thinks.

The How To

So what does it take to achieve those weight loss goals? A quick google search defines New Year’s resolutions as a tradition in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior. But what I’ve learned over the years and after taking on countless new clients around this time of year, is that you need more than just resolve to change an undesired trait or behavior.

Setting Healthy Lifestyle Goals: Where to Start

  1. What is your overall objective?
  2. How much time can you invest in achieving your particular goal? (Think hours per day, per week and number of months.)
  3. How much money or resources do you want to put towards your goal?
  4. How much effort are you willing to put in to reach your goal? (Use a 1-10 scale, anything less than a 7 rating usually means your goal is not as important to you as you think.)

Now don’t get me wrong, I too have failed in keeping many a resolutions in the past — But after many years of learning about human behavior, and of course through trial and error,  I know one thing for sure, it takes a few strategic tactics for health and weight loss goals to stick.

Take for example, my client Nadia (pictured above). She was able to achieve her new year’s resolutions of meeting her weight loss goals. But what did it really take? How was she able to find herself in the coveted 9% of resolutioners that met their goals? After all, she was working full time while starting her own business on the side, as she completed her masters degree and embarked on new life experiences. As tall a feat as it may seem, I promise you, you can also meet your weight loss goals the way she did. Read more to learn how to take the 4 questions above and put them into action.

The Healthy Resolution Plan: The Follow Through

First, you really have to want it. Don’t overbook yourself. You can’t want to lose weight, but also want to work more, read more, give more work presentations and spend more time with friends. In theory all of those things sounds great and doable at the same time, but when it comes to your resolutions, you have to make your goals a top priority.

Categories
Informational

Freedom From The Norm: How An Online Trainer And Coach Works

Online-Fitness-TrainerSome people just don’t like working with a personal trainer. They may like the idea of having someone to consult with, or the added motivation a trainer provides, but they’re just not into making or keeping tight one hour appointments at the gym or having someone yell— “gimme just 1 more rep!” —into their ear.

I don’t blame them. I’m a certified personal trainer, and even I don’t like forcing my clients into a rigid schedule, where they dread coming to see me.

Like my clients, I much prefer a flexible schedule. This is why all of my packages are offered online. Many of my clients are busy professionals, some with kids, some without. Time is precious to them and they don’t always have the luxury of dropping into workout classes at a set time.

How Online Strength & Nutrition Guideance Works

  • I provide you with a series of online questionnaires
  • You fill out the online forms and send back to me
  • I obtain all the necessary information I need (such as your goals, weight, height, fitness level, stress levels, fitness and nutritional likes, dislikes, allergies, injuries, concerns, etc.)
  • I create a customized personal training program and macronutrient focused meal plan for you

Strength and Conditioning

What most people need is a customized plan that gives detailed information on what exercises to do, on what days. Sometimes exercises will include machines or weight resistance, other times it may be body weight exercises or plyometrics. Everything fits together to target your specific goals and keep your body on your toes.

Don’t know how to use the equipment at your gym properly? No problem, I send you videos, photos and descriptions if that’s an issue. All workout plans keep in mind your fitness level, load, intensity, frequency and the various equipment you may or may not have available to you. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to these plans. Everything is tailored to your needs.

Nutritional Counseling

My clients aren’t into fad diets, instead they want to eat real food, with the correct portion sizes for their activity needs and fitness levels, while losing body fat and gaining muscle in all the right places. I calculate your macros, and give you a workable schedule of suggested meals and recipes that fit those macros (that’s the hardest part for most people) and fit your daily life.

Categories
Health Uncategorized

Positively Happy Holiday Greetings!

Positively_strong_health_solutions_coupon_offer_for_diet_weightloss_nutrition_fitness_plan

My heart is happy,

My belly is full,

I thank God that my clients

Are so jolly and cool!

Basically, since I like to take the Christmas holidays to reflect on all of the blessings in my life, this past year has been an amazing one.

I’m really thankful for a year of learning, expansion and being able to work with awesome clients and people who are so into fitness and nutrition.

Thanks for making my job so enjoyable. I love being a champion for healthy living and a coach where I get to see others work hard, succeed and fulfill their own dreams, wishes and resolutions.

To Positively Strong Holidays,

Sunny

 

 

Categories
Health

The Joy of Better Health: Preventing Heartburn With 5 Simple Solutions

JumpForJoyAcidRefluxIf you have ever experienced heartburn, you’ll know that it is no joke. It’s not just annoying, but it’s actually quite a dangerous signal of your overall health.

Many years ago, I had heartburn that persisted over a few weeks and when I told my doctor about it she just waved it off and said that it was probably too much acidic foods and that she would prescribe me some medication for Acid Reflux. The medication worked, but as soon as I came off of it, the heart burn came right back. That was quite some time ago, nowadays I know a lot more about Acid Reflux and indigestion, and the types of foods and diets that bring about heartburn.

Most often, it’s not just one meal or food that does it, instead it is a series of meals and bad habits that create an acidic environment in the body by dropping the body’s natural pH balance to below 7.35. Acid forming foods are definitely a culprit, but most people don’t realize that it is not acidic fruits and foods like lemons, tomatoes and sauerkraut that disturb the alkaline balance of the body, but instead it is “acid-forming foods” such as processed foods and packaged goods that cause acidosis in the body and subsequent harm.

A low pH and acidic environment within the body is the perfect growing conditions for a bacteria called the Helico Pylori Bacteria (a.k.a H. Pylori) which inhabits the stomach and the esophagus. H.Pylori stimulates cells in the stomach to produce excessive amounts of gastric or hydrochloric acid which can make their way back and up into the esophogus causing “Heartburn” or Gastro-Esophogeal Reflux Disease (GERD). Doctors usually prescribe a heavy dose of antibiotics for H.Pylori, but since the antibiotics themselves can often do a lot of harm, eating the right foods can re-balance the gut to create an alkaline environment (not allowing the H.Pylori to thrive). I can honestly say that just by switching to whole foods and cooking at home, I have been able to experience better overall health, prevent heartburn and not take any medications whatsoever, which literally has me jumping for joy!

As for Acid Reflux medication, those just mask symptoms and can often have many side effects as well. My doctor should not have waved off my heartburn as if it were no big deal. It’s great that she recognized food could be a source of the problem, but she should have elaborated on what foods were actually “acid-forming” to the body and also advised me to see a nutritionist.

Preventing heartburn can be a way of preventing bigger problems down the road and since there are already lots of lists out there to help alleviate heartburn once you have it, I have instead created a list that will help balance your gut flora and keep you from experiencing heartburn in the first place.

5 ways to clean up your diet and keep heartburn at bay:

Categories
Food

Reputation Re-haul: 5 Fattening Foods That Are Actually Good For You

Good-For-You-Foods-With-A-Bad-RepEveryday, there is someone out there that is unnecessarily avoiding certain foods. They don’t have an allergy and they don’t dislike the food, but in the name of weight loss or health, they are choosing to discriminate against them.

Blogs, news outlets and media figures like Dr. Oz are busy using scare tactics about perfectly-good-for-you foods, and with far fetched promises of shedding 20 pounds in a week. Some processed foods are marketed as “healthy” but they are far from it (see one of my previous posts) while other foods are given a bad reputation, sometimes based on studies that are simply taken out of context. Well I’m here to tell you that unless you have a real food allergy or intolerance, you shouldn’t be avoiding these whole foods based on what the uninformed word is on the street.

Below is a list of 5 foods that you may be avoiding unnecessarily, when in fact they are super good for you!

Categories
Uncategorized

Fighting Rising Health Costs

Breaking_Bad_Habits I don’t usually go so long between writing these blog posts and I promise not to make it a habit, it’s just that enrolling in a full-time Master’s program while working full-time might have been a little more than I can neatly chew. Not that it hasn’t been amazing, interesting and full of fun, it really has, and so today I want to give you little taste of what’s been keeping me so busy.

The focus of my research this term is engagement, or better explained, the meaningful involvement of patients in health care. Still not sure what that means exactly? Well, it can mean a lot of things, starting with creating solutions and ways in which to encourage adults to actively take charge of their own diet, exercise, medication, treatment and overall health care while cutting overall health care costs. What is really exciting for me, is that it goes hand in hand with what I hope to achieve with my clients each and everyday. I want my clients to take charge of their own lives, learn new skills and take into account all the different factors and options that affect their health and health care costs, and have the confidence to seek the right care to live happy and healthy lives.

Since people who lack the skills or confidence to manage their own health care cost the system 21% more, it is in everyone’s best interest that we all fight to become better consumers of health care. How does one become a better, more engaged and more informed health consumer? Below are some tips to get you started:

How to be a more informed health care consumer, save money and experience better overall health: