Thursday, November 20, 2014

Your Holiday Survival Guide

It's here - whether you're ready or not. Just look at the seasonal shelves in your favorite store. Retailers like to call it ‘holiday season' but let's be more accurate – it’s “weight gain” season and it starts now and runs straight through New Year's Day...

These next six weeks will bring ample opportunity for all of us to expand our waistlines.

So why discuss it now just days away from Thanksgiving? Because now is the opportunity to plan for the weeks ahead. Once the craziness begins, you'll be too busy to put a plan into action.

So I want to help you take this moment of clarity, this calm before the storm, to outline a two-part plan that will save your waist from unwanted holiday inches.

Part One: Your Exercise Plan. 

Exercise always seems to be the very last thing people think of doing when they get overwhelmed, and the holiday season is notorious for empty gyms. This year do something different - MAKE yourself to exercise. Making a promise to “try” making it to the gym more simply won't cut it, either. You need to go public. Get others involved to hold you accountable so that you won't drop the ball.

Sign up to work with a personal trainer or health coach - This is the perfect solution for consistent, challenging and effective workouts. You'll get the one-on-one attention and assistance needed to power you through the holidays in better shape than ever - talk about motivating!

Join a class – Many folks aren't be as effective exercising on their own during the busy holiday season, so joining a class for accountability is a perfect solution. Find something you will enjoy and gets your heart rate up.

Get a serious exercise buddy – I’m not talking giant, Conan the Barbarian type, but someone who is disciplined about their routine. Some friends can be an awesome help but if they lack the discipline they’ll end up pulling you down. So, if you've decided to find an exercise buddy, it’s important to answer the following questions:

  • Do they share your fitness goals?
  • Are they fairly encouraging?
  • Do they give up easily? 
  • Are they at your fitness level?

Part Two: Your Diet Plan.

It’s no secret, the holidays offer ample opportunities to indulge, so it is imperative that you hammer down some guidelines before hitting that buffet line. I'm not to go all Grinch and say you should go completely cold turkey from any seasonal treats, I do want you to use the ‘M’ word - moderation.

Don't use the holidays as an excuse to pork out – even Santa doesn’t want that bloated feeling!

As for the pot-luck get-together? Go small… Giant platters and deserts can make stunning presentations, but so can mini individualized foods. Plus, if you limit what you bring you’ll also be limiting (or preferably avoid) your take-home share of leftovers. Less leftovers means less weight stored on the belly. In fact, do everyone a favor this year by not gifting fattening treats.

When faced with a buffet line, I always recommend loading your plate first with greens, vegetables and lean meats before breads and heavier foods. Also keep alcoholic beverages to a 2-drink maximum.

Speaking of alcoholic beverages, beware of holiday drinks! Most of these festive concoctions are stuffed with extra calories. Yup, hot holiday drinks from coffee shops, cocktails at parties and creamy eggnog are all very enjoyable and all filled with empty calories – but, then again, you already knew that didn't cha? ;-)

Everywhere you go during the holiday season brings you face-to-face with a plates and trays of temptation, but you don't have to gain weight this holiday season. The key is your mindset.

If you approach the holidays with the mindset of, 'I deserve to indulge and I shouldn't have to exercise' then you'll enter 2015 a few pounds heavier, a little less healthy, and with lower energy than ever before.

I believe that you can do better. You deserve better! I believe that you can enter 2015 in better shape than you are today, healthier than you've been in a long time, and with more energy than you thought possible.

I'm here to help - If you would like to have more support I encourage you to schedule a complimentary "Let's Talk" Strategy consultation with me.

Starting out doesn't have to be intimidating. Achieving success begins with a thought out plan that's tailored to your individual needs - and that’s where I can help. Schedule yours now.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Avoid These Pain Causing Exercises

Some of my best clients for massage are weekend warriors who give their all in the gym or on the playing field... Hey - no pain, no gain – right?

Well, in most cases, the saying is true. But that's not always the case with exercise. In fact, some exercise-induced pain simply can't be treated with massage, but CAN put you on the injured list for a very long time. So before you go to the gym all “Beast Mode” with a no-holds-bar attitude, remember which exercises to avoid. These are six common ones that can leave you hurting for an uncommonly long time.

#1: Behind-the-Head Military Press
It looks good when done properly, but rarely is. By doing this exercise with incorrect posture and technique, you run the risk of painful pinching and inflammation of the shoulder tendons. In rare cases, you may even suffer a tear in the rotator cuff. The same danger is present in other behind-the-head exercises, so be cautious any time you hold weights in a position that places them behind your head.

2: Deep Bend Leg Presses
If done properly, there is nothing wrong with leg presses. The problem comes when you over-zealously or ignorantly bend your legs too much. In order to get a good workout without causing damage to your back and knees, avoid bending your legs at the knee more than 90 degrees. If you have a hard time keeping your knees from slamming against your chest, reduce the weight you’re pushing until you have better control.

3: On Your Back
There are a number of exercises that require you to lie on your back with your feet in the air. Whether pretending to ride a bicycle in the air with your back on the ground, or some other inverted exercise, be cautious before getting started. These exercises cause unnecessary strain on the neck's nerves, ligaments and spine, and can result in long-term, irreversible damage.

4: Upright Rowing
Much like the behind-the-head military press, upright rowing (pulling weights up toward your chin) can cause shoulder impingement and other damage to nerves in the shoulder, too.

5: Sloppy Stair Steppers
After spending 30 minutes on the stair stepper or stationary bike, you may have the urge to lean on the machine's handles. Don't! Doing so may make you feel slightly relieved, but the benefits are only temporary. If you're not careful, you could hurt your elbows, shoulders, and even spine. On top of that, your lack of posture prevents your body from the workout it deserves.

6: Overkill on Anything
Want to get great abs? Do more push-ups. Want to sculpt your triceps? Do some squats. By putting all of your attention on a certain muscle, you run the risk of ignoring your other muscles and suffering future injury to them. There's nothing wrong with targeting a muscle or muscle group for improvement. Just remember the rest of your body needs the same attention, too.

Oh, and one more thing... What’s my take on using a Weight Belt?
There is something you should know about that weight belt: it may be keeping you from getting a full body workout. Yes, it keeps you from messing up your body, but if used in excess, it may also prevent your core muscles from having to work as hard as needed to keep them strong. You don't have to toss your treasured belt in the trash, though. Just don't use it unless you have a medical reason or you're doing some exceptionally heavy lifting.

Avoiding these exercises, using a common sense approach when your body experiences pain, and getting a great sports massage on a regular basis will not only minimize your risk for injury and pain, but will have you feeling great nd playing your "A" game, too!

Listen to your body,

John Aaron Villarreal