October 2011

So get this.  We all know that obesity is at near epidemic rates in the U.S.  Nearly 1-in-3 American adults is obese and 1-in-5 youth.  Roughly 97 million people nationwide.  Ugly numbers to say the least.  So, what do we do?  Fix the problem?  No, that would be too much pressure and hard work.  No, we accommodate it.  Bigger portions, bigger booths, easier ways to get food and things to do so that we don’t have to exercise.  Now this!  I have recently seen (although not hugely advertised) that some car companies are offering what I’m going to call the “Fatty Package” on some of their cars.  Cars with wider seating in the front to accommodate a bigger keister and even larger buttons on the control panels so that fat little fingers have less of a hard time pushing the buttons.  Are you SERIOUS?!?!?!?!  To me, this is just a little bit ridiculous.  Big boned, stressed eater, hormonal issues, I’ve heard them all.  This just pisses me off.  Go ahead, keep telling them that it’s OK to not take care of yourself, we’ll make adjustments for you.  It’s like the enabling parent who then doesn’t understand why their kid has issues with authority and rules.  Get real people, fix the problem.  Don’t make the car bigger, make the person smaller.  C’mon.  That is all that I have to say about that.

So, as an “expert” in your given field, it is always a good idea to try and stay up with the latest trends, right?  So why are most trainers showing their clients exercises and methods that have been around since the 70s?  Popular opinion has not changed on what is good exercise.  I feel (and I’m by no means alone) that that is just not right nor is it the way to do things.  For example, single joint exercise.  Single joint exercises are exercises that move only one joint at a time, like a bicep curl or a leg extension.  Therefore, since they only work one joint, they only work one major muscle group, while pretty much ignoring (or minimizing, at best) all the other stuff around it.  When was the last time that you had to isolate ONE system or muscle group in your body to do anything?  Truth is is that just about everything that we do is a combination of multiple groups and multiple systems all working together simultaneously to perform our task.  So when we workout, why would we not perform exercises that mimic THAT?  The why lies in history.  Think about when exercise in gyms became really popular.  It was about the mid-70s to early 80s.  Before that, the average person wasn’t in the gym at all, and had no idea what the hell was going on with their bodies.  Who WAS in the gym?  Bodybuilders.  So who became the first generation of personal trainers?  Bodybuilders.  And they taught what they knew…single joint, isolation based exercise.  And that became accepted and passed on to the next generations of trainers.  Remember, just because something is accepted, doesn’t mean that it’s right.  It was accepted that the Earth was flat and that not everyone was born equal, based on nothing but color of skin or mere gender.  Those accepted premises have been proven wrong over and again, and this one is, too.  Exercise should mirror life and daily function.  Use exercises that utilize many systems at the same time, like squats and deadlifts.  Walk around on all fours.  Bear Crawl, crab walk, etc.  Play like your kids.  They know what’s up.  The bottom line is that just like with anything else, knowledge has progressed.  So why hasn’t practice?

OK, it’s video day again.  My last video “I’m a Runner” was pretty funny and successful.  Just to show that I’m an equal opportunity giver, here’s a video about Crossfitters.  Just a view from the outside looking in.  Again, I do not diss or advocate either, it’s just simply and truly comical.  Have a great day!

I know that I’m a day early on my post for this week, but sometimes something hits you and you have to take the time to think.  We sometimes get the notion that professional athletes are machines.  We think this because they go out and have phenomenal physical attributes and put them on display every day for our entertainment.  Sometimes we get so swept up that we forget that these men and women are human, just like you and I.  Now, I do not profess to be a racing enthusiast, but yesterday occurred a truthful example.  At the IndyCar race in Vegas yesterday, fans were witness to an historic crash.  A 15 car pile up on the speedway, in which racer Dan Wheldon lost his life due to “unsurvivable injuries”.  You saw racers, competitors, fans and families weep for one of their own.  And it’s only during these times, it seems that we think about the humanity of these athletes.  That they have wives, children, parents and friends, just like you and I.  But all too often, people get caught up in the ugliness of sport.  So then next time that you’re at a game and want to scream to some athlete who just struck out about his wife, kid or mother….remember what you think when someone would say the same on the street about yours.  Grow up and take the high road.

So, I’d like to relay a short conversation I just had with one of my students.  We have been talking about basic nutrition in class the last couple of days, and as always I get off topic a little bit (go figure, right?).  Anyway, he comes in this morning and it goes like this:

Student: You had me perplexed yesterday with what you said.

Me: What did I say? (a little warily, I might add)

Student: You said that there is no such thing as a specialized diabetic diet.  That got me, but then I started to realize that you were completely right.  I’ve got all these diabetic cookbooks and such, and it’s really about just eating healthy.

Me: Go on….

Student: I guess, you see all this stuff and people tell  you these things, and you just get wrapped up.

And the fact of the matter is, that my student is right.  People have all sorts of illnesses and issues.  I’m fairly certain that all of you either are or know a diabetic person.  And they get advice and marketing about what and how they should eat from all different angles.  When the simple point is is just that they have to eat better!  There is no such thing as a diabetic friendly food.  There is no food that a diabetic cannot have.  They just have to be a little more careful than you and I, is all.  Where as you and I have the wiggle room to have a bad meal or day (or week), they do not.  Their bodies just cannot compensate as efficiently.  But the same basic rules apply.

Carbs – No more than 40-50% of the total diet and 3/4 of those should be complex carbs.  WHOLE grains, vegetables, etc.  Avoid the simple and processed sugars with the exceptions of fruit and milk.

Fat – 25-30% of the diet.  Yes, that much.  Eat good fat foods like nuts, seeds, coconut and olive oils.  Milk and eggs are good too.

Protein – 20-30% of the total intake.  Good complete proteins like meat, milk, eggs and cheese.  Added to good plant sources like nuts, seeds, and legumes (beans, peas, lentils, etc.).

See, it’s not that hard.  Eat balanced, eat well.  Since my student has become more in tuned with his body and diet, he has stated that so many of his numbers have improved and that his medications have been significantly reduced with the possibility of coming off of some of them in the near future.  How proud of a day is that?  Who DOESN’T want less meds, right?  I could not be happier for them and hope that this reaches some of you to pass on to  the people that you know, as well.  Be healthy and eat well.

Success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.  A quote from Thomas Edison a couple hundred years ago.  Still true and especially applied to exercise.  I have been watching people walk in and out of gyms as a participant for 20 years and a trainer for 13, and nothing applies more.  You can’t be afraid to break an egg or break a sweat.  “Breaking eggs” means doing something different.  Every month, every week, every day.  Try something new and don’t be afraid to suck at it (at least at first).  This is how we create new synapses in our brain and make ourselves more functional human beings.  Breaking a sweat means just what it says.  If you want to achieve success, you have to work harder than you are accustomed to.  You have to take your body to the edge of it’s capabilities and step right over that line.  Now, there is no need to go sprinting straight through that line, but stepping over it is a good thing.  Your body gets the sense of something accomplished an something new.   So make today the start of something new.  Something different.  Something successful.  If you keep trying the same thing and failing, try something different.  Makes sense, right?  Be inspired, PERSPIRE!!

You would never go see an unlicensed massage therapist, right?  Or Chiropractor? Or Personal Trainer (you know NPTI trainers are and are the best).  As more and more professions in our industry move towards regulation and licensing, it’s important to be careful with your body.  Screen your professionals, especially “holistic” ones.  In particular, one profession is fighting legislation and regulation tooth and nail.  It’s Yoga.  Why, I don’t know, but it’s even gone as far in some places the yoga “professionals” have taken protests to state legislators to keep themselves unregulated.  You’d think regulation would be a good thing.  A badge that you could wear proudly.  What are they afraid of?  Exposure?  Many people in these unlicensed fields have no business working with the human body.  Contorting it into places that it shouldn’t be in.  Unlicensed instructors can cause incapable people to do or try things that have no place in human movement.  This can lead to injuries to the rotator cuff, spine and even cases of arterial tears.  Statistically, yoga reports no more or fewer injuries than any other physical activity, but it’s believed that it’s because many go unreported.  I’m not saying that yoga is terrible.  Personally, I’m not a fan and think it’s more potential harm than good, but I’m sure I’ll catch a lot of flak for that.  I think people should be more mobile and less yoga-ee.  But it’s my blog and I can say what I want.  HaHa, take that.  Anyway, what I would suggest, if you are going to go the yoga route is screen your teacher.  Sit and observe a class or 2 before jumping in.  Do they allow people to modify poses, or do they imply that anyone can do the most advanced if they just let their body go and try.  Not everyone can and not everyone should.  Don’t be a statistic.

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