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
Exercises

Exercise in the Time of COVID-19: Positively Strong H.A.B.I.T

This virus has reminded us of the importance of eating well and exercising in order to maintain a healthy immune system, but it’s definitely not easy to workout when the gyms are closed, the weather is cold, and the kiddos won’t give you a moment of peace.

We may be spending more time at home since we are also working from home, but that is not all that we’re doing. We’re all trying to cook three meals a day at home, homeschooling, making 433 snacks a day for the kiddos (who else knew that 3 year-olds eat like teenagers?), entertaining little ones, staying on top of the ever dwindling groceries, and still trying to stick to our old exercise routines and maintain healthy habits. No wonder feelings of anxiety are at an all time high.

Short Bursts of Training for Maximum Results

Pre-Covid quarantine, I would normally hit up my karate club to teach a class and also get in some martial arts training. Then, on alternate days I would drop my daughter off at daycare and go straight to my local gym for a strength training workout. Now that both the dojo and gym are inaccessible to me, I have had to pivot and create quick and effective Tabata home workouts (that combine my passion for Karate and strength training) to deliver maximum results in minimum time.

The Tabata Protocol

Tabata training or the Tabata Protocol is a type of interval training that was studied by Dr. Izumi Tabata, a professor at the Faculty of Sport and Health Science at Ritsumeikan University in Japan. In the study, athletes performed 20 seconds of a very high intensity exercise (e.g., squat jumps, burpees, mountain climbers, etc.), followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated for a total of 8 times. The athletes were able to improve their VO2 max (the body’s ability to use oxygen more effectively) and overall athletic performance, according to Dr. Tabata’s study published in the journal of Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise.

My workouts use a variation of the Tabata protocol to create a combined Karate and strength training workout. I call it the Positively STRONG Hit All Body Interval Training (HABIT). My dojo is Youtube. Each week I focus on different body parts and techniques to deliver workouts that hit the lower body, upper body, and total body. I teach Karate techniques and drills for the interesting and dynamic cardio training, and use basic Olympic weight lifting and accessory exercises for the strength training portion.

H.A.B.I.T Tips

Before you follow along with my youtube videos, please be sure to do the following:

  • Get thoroughly warmed up. You should spend about 5-10 minutes jogging on the spot, skipping, or doing dynamic warm-up exercises prior to starting the video.
  • If you decide to repeat the video in order to do more than one set, be sure to rest about 60 or more seconds in between sets.
  • Monitor your intensity. These workouts can feel super easy if you do not push yourself to go fast during the karate cardio cycles. Once you know the drill, try to execute the technique as fast as possible. On the same note, the strength training movements should not be performed quickly, but instead the aim should be to go as heavy as safely possible.
  • Remember that intensity is accumulative. As you go through each cycle, the level of intensity peaks as you reach the end of the workout—when muscles are fatigued— which is the time that your form usually gets sloppy, making you more prone to injury. Constantly monitor your form.
  • Depending on your fitness level and number of sets performed, these Tabata style workouts can be done 1-3 times per week, with rest days in between in order to avoid overtraining and injury.
  • Don’t be afraid to extend your recovery time or take longer breaks between rounds.

Overall, I find that the workout just flies by. I love that the intervals are so short, yet you burn tons of calories and can really feel the burn towards the end of each set.

Stay tuned and subscribe to my Youtube channel for new fitness videos as I release new workouts week after week.

To building Positively Strong habits,

Sunny

Categories
Event Exercises Health Informational

Intermittent Fasting, Client Spotlight, and the Must-Try Shoulder Workouts of the Month

Intermittent Fasting: Fad Diet or Effective Weight Loss Method?

Every few months a new fad diet pops up that promises an incredibly easy and effective way to shed those unwanted extra pounds, fast. While most of these types of diets shock your body into losing weight quickly (usually due to the high caloric deficit caused by eliminating whole food groups) they often deprive you of much-needed nutrients and of your sanity as well. The end result is that most people will yo-yo back to their previous weight once the restricted food groups are reintroduced back into the diet.

Sunny’s Take on the Situation: What’s the Deal?

At PostivelySTRONG Health Solutions, we don’t believe in fad diets. Eliminating whole food groups is frowned upon unless you have a food intolerance or history of food allergies. It should also be noted that calorie restriction is not seen as the only way to lose weight. In fact, most clients are quite surprised to see that eating a varied and colorful diet without eliminating whole food groups is the norm. This includes dairy, bread, and even (gasp!) sugar. 

However, there are certain methods to nutrient timing that have scientific backing, and some forms of calorie restriction are necessary for weight loss. One such method is Intermittent Fasting (IF), which is a diet that I sometimes recommend to my clients.

IF is an eating pattern where you either: 

  • A) eat how you would normally eat for 5-days out of the week while vastly restricting calories for two nonconsecutive days out of the week.

OR 

  • B) you only eat all of your daily required calories in two to three meals in an 8 to 10-hour window and fast the rest of the time (usually fasting while sleeping and in the morning).

Here’s why IF is a trend I can get behind:

IF can help you lose weight while encouraging your body to burn stored fat as energy to fuel your body. Benefits include cranking up your metabolism and balancing of hormones. This is accomplished through a reduction in your caloric intake and nutrient timing to get your hormones to fire correctly (i.e. decreased insulin resistance + increase in growth hormones = an increase in the fat-burning hormone Leptin). IF has also been credited with improving heart health.

Here’s how IF can turn on you:

IF can’t fight the good fight against junk food. So don’t expect to lose weight if you are eating everything in sight in those eating windows. Also, it’s definitely not a diet for everyone. There are reports of women experiencing changes in their menstrual cycle after starting IF.  Also, individuals with chronic illnesses, advanced diabetes, or prone to eating disorders, I encourage you to explore other lifestyle and nutrition changes that may better suit your individual needs.

Client Spotlight: Kendra J

Sunny’s Client Kendra is a travel expert who has been working with PositivelySTRONG health solutions for the past 4 years. Her contagious smile and warm personality make her a delight to work with. Her strong self-drive and consistent work ethic make her the dream client. We recently caught up with Kendra and asked her a series of questions to better understand how she enjoys working with Sunny at PositivelySTRONG Health.

Hi Kendra, can you describe your health and fitness regimen before you started with PositivelySTRONG Health?

Before I started working out with Sunny, I was a person that focused a lot on cardio and how much I weighed. I would go through spurts where I was doing kickboxing, running on a treadmill, anything cardio-focused. Which is funny because I really hate cardio—and probably why after a few months I would be over it. 

I would also lift light weights with the fear of gaining too much muscle and didn’t go into the gym with a set workout so I would often wander around with no direction or what body part I should be focusing on. Eating-wise, I would go through periods where I would eat low-carb salads with protein to quickly lose weight, and then politely gain it back once I hit my target size.

What problem(s) were you trying to solve by signing up with PositivelySTRONG Health? 

I wanted to figure out a long-term solution to what I should be feeding my body and how I could incorporate working out consistently and with purpose.

What made you happiest about working with PositivelySTRONG?

Uh. Everything? I love that you challenge me with each new workout (or try to kill me. However you want to see it). Most trainers get weird and don’t acknowledge any disability and your workouts are mindful of my limits but also incorporate moves that will strengthen my arm. Also love that you know life happens and you don’t expect me to eat celery on my birthday, your 80/20 rule is the bee’s knees, and I love how your page gives me more ideas on how to switch up meal prep.

What have you been able to achieve since using our services?

Definitely a lot stronger and I love lifting now! I’m also mindful of what I’m putting in my body and I feel that I figured out what foods make my body happy. You made me rethink my relationship with food.

What has exceeded your expectations since working with Sunny?

Everything! You have been such a joy to work with. You don’t judge my heart if I disappear, but you also call me on my sh*t in a loving encouraging manner (don’t know how else to describe that lol).

What’s the main reason you recommend PositivelySTRONG Health?

Sunny is a thoughtful trainer that encourages her clients to push their bodies, don’t judge their own progress, and make taking care of yourself a priority and a mandatory thing.

What would you tell someone who’s considering working with PositivelySTRONG and/or Sunny?

To be prepared to be changed. You are going to be pushed/warmly shoved out of your comfort zone but it’s definitely worth it!

Thank you Kendra, we definitely appreciate your feedback and enjoy guiding you on your health and fitness journey!

Two Best Shoulder Boulder Workouts To Try Today

For maximum strength, body symmetry, and proper posture, look no further than these two shoulder workouts demonstrated in this video:

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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.

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Uncategorized

The Answer to Losing Weight

Losing_WeightOne of the most common phrases I hear is “I want to lose weight”. The answer I want to give back is usually quite long and drawn out, so I thought I would write a short response here and let everyone know that the phrase I’d really like to hear instead is “I want to lose Body Fat”. People new to fitness would presume that those two phrases are one and the same, but today I would like to make a big stink about how losing weight is nothing the same as losing body fat! I’d shout it from rooftops if I could (or in the case of today’s photo, from the high steps of Spain’s ancient forts) but alas shouting it into the blog world will have to suffice.

When someone says that they want to lose weight, it is in actuality a very vague goal. They get so focused on seeing that number on the scale drop that they start cutting calories and loading up on the cardio. They don’t think about the fact that they are probably losing muscle mass, water or stored glycogen and even metabolic waste first before they actually start losing a substantial amount of body fat.

Don’t focus on that Scale

Everyone says it, “Muscle weighs more than fat” but that’s actually not true.

5 lbs of muscle and 5 lbs of fat are both equal in weight, it’s just that fat takes up more room in your body. Fat is all fluffy and gooey and free form, while each muscle comes in a set shape that takes up less space and feels hard to the touch. That is why you can see dimpling below the surface of the skin when there is more fatty tissue present than muscle.

In reality, a 135lb person who has more muscle and a lower body fat percentage can look leaner and thinner than a 135lb person with a higher body fat percentage.

muscle_vs_fat

The Real Answer to Losing Weight

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Uncategorized

Breaking The Mold: Your Image Does Not Define You

working_out_body_imageHey you.

Do whatever you want. Really. Be anything you want to be… Anything. You. Want.

Don’t conform to the image that others perceive you as having, unless you have worked hard to project that certain image, but even then the chances are high that what they perceive and what you perceive are two completely different things. That’s just how it is, no two people can truly think alike, it’s not human nature, so again, just do whatever you want.

For instance, doesn’t it seem so silly that people assume if you have blonde hair, that you must somehow not value knowledge and learning? Or if you grew up overweight, and had bad grades in gym class, that you are destined to forever hate all types of physical activity. Maybe you had a bad gym teacher, maybe you were being bullied at that time in that class, or that your life experiences hadn’t shown you the importance of being healthy yet. Whatever the reason, now you can be whomever you choose to be.

Often others can’t handle this and they don’t know what to do with themselves when they realize you have broken out of the mold they had you in. That is not your problem. Your only task is to be happy, to pursue happiness and be happy with yourself. Simple right?

Lesson’s from my Hair Dresser

A few months ago, I was sitting in my hair dresser’s chair and he told me that he had been doing some construction on his home. My hair dresser is a very sweet man that works magic on thick, coarse hair like mine. He spends all day long talking cut and color, perms and highlights, while going home to his wife and raising his two sons, tending to his vegetable garden, using power tools to build a new addition to his home and watching soccer with a cold beer in hand.

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Uncategorized

Goal Setting: Far Stretch From Reality?

FitnessGoals At the beginning of my fitness journey, before I had any formal education on health and fitness, I had a photo (cut out of a magazine) of young Gisele Bundchen hanging by my desk. While doing homework I would glance over to Gisele’s picture and study her long, thin legs, her bony, protruding shoulders and angular features on her face. I would promise myself that I would go for a run and hit the gym everyday, that I would look like her by summer and vow to eat healthy, cut sugar and that the only snacks I would consume would be carrots and celery sticks.

I’ve always had a dedicated spirit and would push hard at the gym, watched what I ate, but no matter what, my body never ended up looking like Gisele’s. Instead my legs would add muscle, get shapelier and though my stomach would get flatter and flatter, my hips would not budge an inch. What was I doing wrong?

Actually I wasn’t doing anything wrong, but what I should have been doing is setting realistic goals to my body type and lifestyle. I’m only 5 foot 5 and I’ve always had thick legs and wide hips, so the photo of 5 foot 11 Gisele Bundchen was not an attainable goal for me. If I had chosen to tack up a photo of lovely Jennifer Lopez and aimed for her body shape, then it would have been a more realistic goal and I would have been able to stay motivated for longer periods of time.

Being fit and healthy comes in all shapes and sizes.