I overheard them talking. One girl, no older than 23, says to the other, “So my friend heard about this weight loss pill…” and the friend replies, “Oh, I read about those on the Internet – it said they really work!” It wasn’t long before I turned my attention back to the bundles of asparagus, shaking my head with a long, exasperated sigh. Time and time again, young (and old) impressionable people are misinformed by the insurmountable information on weight loss, health, fitness and how to get there. Many “health” companies thrive on plaguing the Internet with their never-before-heard-of, magical weight loss pills and skinny teas using half-naked fitness models to advertise their legitimacy. The message this sends us is that you don’t actually have to work hard to get the body you want; all you really have to do is take a few pills, be a little more active and boom – your six-pack awaits. In actuality, this is very, very wrong.
My father raised me with the “if you want something, you have to earn it” motto. Though I hated hearing it when all I wanted was a dollar for the ice cream truck; those words stuck with me in my later years. Whether a dollar for an ice cream cone – or how to lose body fat (note to self: this is not attainable through the consumption of ice cream), the motto applies in all aspects. Health and body composition goals cannot be achieved by popping a weight-loss pill and returning to the couch for another episode of ‘Orange Is the New Black’. Those goals can only be obtained by getting up off the couch, performing 45-60 minutes of moderate to intense physical exercise, consuming nutrient dense foods that contain protein, complex carbs and healthy fats at least five out of seven days per week. Essentially, making the gym and healthy eating a habitual routine, a lifestyle. Easier said than done, right?
Though the sound of exercising daily, eating proteins and veggies, and limiting sugar intake can seem a bit daunting or overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. I never recommend my clients to cut out their normal habits and implement my guidance all at once. That usually ends up as a late night food frenzy or weeks skipped in the gym at some point or another. Rather, we plan two-week “health” goals that allow us to break one bad habit at a time. For instance, a client of mine started by eliminating her first worst habit – drinking soda. The first week, we allotted her two sodas, the second week she was to swap soda for water or tea, by the third and fourth weeks she stopped craving soda altogether and found that she had more energy and less mid-day crashes at work. Once that habit was broken, we were able to move on to the next. Slowly, she began to see the inches falling off her midsection. This very same client had also been regularly taking weight-loss supplements found at Walgreens for a few weeks, with zero results. Prior to our weekly training sessions and nutrition guidance, she hadn’t lost any weight but had gained a handful of headaches and digestive issues due to the weight-loss product her coworker had recommended.
Needless to say, don’t be fooled by the advertisements saturating the Internet and social media. Chances are, if it sounds too good to be true, “Lose 10 pounds in 10 days!” then it probably is. If you have recently considered the purchase of a weight-loss aid that does not require a gym membership, personal trainer or healthy diet but encourages you to consume two-doses a day with eight ounces of water – I’ll give you a few more reasons as to why you should pass:
- Most weight-loss supplements are not FDA approved; therefore, you could be ingesting pretty much anything and it doesn’t have to be labeled.
- Many of these products you’ll find online are adulterated with potentially dangerous ingredients and disguised with a little caffeine for an added boost. (source: prevention.com)
- The ingestion of too many diuretics and/ or stimulants can be potentially detrimental to the natural function of your thyroid. Which could possibly lead to the inability to lose or gain weight naturally; ultimately, resulting in Thyroid disease.
- Some people report having extremely negative side effects when consuming such products, like: headaches, nausea, anxiety, and even depression.
Heard enough? The point is: taking weight-loss supplements in place of exercising and eating healthy won’t work. As magnificent as the sales teams make it sound, nothing can replace the hard work and effort it takes to reach your fitness goals. My greatest recommendation would be to hire a professional if you seek guidance; a personal trainer, a nutritionist, someone that can understand your health/ fitness needs and walk with you each step of the way. Reaching those goals are possible, it just doesn’t come in the form of a pill.
Many of my clients have the same question, “What should I be eating?” and it usually ends with a puzzled look, worrying that my answer will sound something like “You should only be eating chicken and broccoli!” While yes, eating chicken and broccoli can help you obtain that dreamy six-pack or lose those 10 extra pounds, it’s not only unrealistic to eat this everyday; it is unnecessary! Through many discussions with both male and female clients, I have found that most simply lack the knowledge of what protein is and how it contributes to muscle development, the difference between healthy and unhealthy fats and how much of each macronutrient to consume. Essentially, they aren’t sure what foods will allow them to obtain their fitness or weight loss goals. It’s more simple than what the majority of people make it out to be: eat wholesome, real foods to satisfy hunger, supply the body with the proper nutrients, and oh, create some balance in your lifestyle! When we eat the rights foods, we feel better. When we feel better, we do more. I have compartmentalized a breakdown of what proteins, fats & carbohydrates will get you on the track to feeling your best (unless your lactose intolerant… stay away from the cheese), and on your way to slaying your fitness and health goals!
The GOOD Grocery List
Lean Ground Beef (*grass fed if possible)
Chicken/ Turkey Sausage
Pork (limit, for weak digestive systems)
Salmon, or other fish
TIP: Chances are… if you’re working out more, you are probably going to benefit from eating more protein! Protein helps preserve muscle mass, so if you want to keep those bad boys – make sure you’re getting it in! This means one “Protein Box” from Starbucks won’t cut it…
Nuts (Walnut, Cashew. almonds, etc)
Olives & Olive Oil
Greek Yogurt (Yogurt & eggs are also a great source of protein)
Flax & Chia seeds
TIP: Forget about picking out items with the label, “Low Fat or Non-Fat”, fats are GOOD! (Just don’t overdo it by eating a jar of nut butter a day.) Paired with protein, your body will be energized and satiated all day long!
Complex Carbohydrates: (limit grains as much as possible)
Brown or White Rice
VEGGIES (eat all the veggies!!!!)
TIP: Let’s be real. If you’re goal is weight loss, all you have to do is limit or remove grain & sugar. Sugar & grain are thieves of many good-intentioned fitness goals… therefore, stick to veggies or non-starchy carbohydrates when you can. Cutting grains can be challenging… but stay strong! After a few weeks, you’ll forget you even liked them in the first place.
Notice a theme here? Most of the foods mentioned above are REAL, whole foods. Nothing is heavily processed or created and shoved into a box and labeled, “Daily dose of vitamins in one serving!” Sure, dark chocolate and Greek yogurt didn’t sprout up from the Earth, but that doesn’t make it bad for you; check the ingredients and assess how it makes you feel when consumed. If you feel good after eating it, include it in your diet, if it doesn’t – don’t. You’re diet should be simple and nutrient dense. If the ingredients on the nutrition label have more than 15 items listed, it’s a safe bet it’s probably not the healthiest choice (what is Blue 40 & Dextrose, anyway?)
More often than not, people know what is “good” or “bad” for them. This list is just a verification of that very idea that can be taken to the grocery store or local market as a form of – accountability.
The planning and usage of a simple kitchen tool to streamline meal preparation and save money.
Do you have 20 dollars? If you answered “yes”, then make the easiest decision possible and purchase a crockpot. In the era of nutrition and fitness, meal prep has taken the industry by storm. Hundreds of start up companies all offering fresh meals, catered to the individual based on goals, allergies and income level, comprise a larger piece of the proverbial fitness pie nowadays. Supplement companies that once thrived on powders and bars, are slowly starting to recognize a shift towards whole food consumption, in regards to nutritional demands of the busy gymrat. In an effort to contribute some information based on personal experience, I wanted to list some advantages to taking action in regards to your personal intake. It is no mystery that calorie consumption and quality of nutrition regulate a large percentage of how your body composition is determined. Exercise selection, frequency and intensity all play into the result. Now back to the topic at hand, how can I, the individual, make incremental changes to improve my overall nutrition and preparation? Benefits of enlisting the help of a crockpot; low cost, low maintenance, minimal skill requirement, and large variety of meal options.
Sounds great, right? Okay, where do we begin?
Step 1– Research your future arsenal; consider what size you’ll need, if you prefer digital or old-school knob settings, and how much you’re willing to spend.
Step 2– Purchase your crock pot.
Step 3– Gather staple ingredients and practice meals to consider for regular consumption. Note: Start with meals that require minimal brain power.
Step 4– Win at life.
Ok, now the hard part is over. Here are some deeper explanations in regard to food selection and staple ingredients of the crock pot life. First thing, decide how many people you are cooking for. As well as how many meals you should make at one time. I live alone, making the prep simple to measure based on my personal preference and diet structure. Nonetheless; it all boils down to personal choice.
Let us look at the possible options for combinations and variety:
Vegetables: Think of any vegetable, honestly – think of it – now imagine that is has been slow cooked for 6-8 hours, still interested? Put it in the cart.
Meats: This is a different animal all together (get it?). Consider certain cuts of meat that require a more delicate approach to cooking; roasts, tenderloins, whole chicken legs, drumsticks, and stew type meat. These, in general, tend to be the less expensive cuts in comparison to other meats. Therefore saving money and time it takes to usually cook these types of meat.
Spices: All the artistic liberty you want to take in this department, go for it. A simple high quality sea salt, and coarse black pepper can do wonders, but more elaborate flavors like cayenne, cumin, oregano, dill weed and other alternatives can be the clutch addition that makes the meal really enjoyable.
Dressings: Traditional oils (olive, coconut, avocado) can all be utilized, and a variety of dressings like; sriracha, tapatio, cholula, and balsamic vinegar, really round out the flavor profile.
Now that we have the foundation laid and the blueprint in place, we can take action. The mindset to adopt is that you are making dinner without being present to witness the process. Therefore; walking into your house after work and sitting down to eat, without stress, or the burden of prolonging your meal any longer. Which in turn, eliminates the biggest pitfall of nutritional accountability, split second dinner decisions that 99% of the time are not in your best interest. And in most cases, cost substantially more than a prepared meal. I want to list a few examples of startup meal options that require the least investment in time or money and yield incredible results. I will breakdown the portion cost to further reinforce the value added.
Sample Dinner A: Deconstructed Chicken Soup
This staple option has literally no ability to be composed incorrectly, but has no ceiling on possibility.
-chicken thighs, bone in, or whole leg quarters (averaging 1.99-2.29lb)
-sweet onion (averaging .79-99 cents per lb)
-zucchini or yellow squash (averaging 1.19-1.49 per lb)
-carrots (averaging 1 dollar per bag)
-celery (.50-.89 cents per stalk)
-Chop vegetables, place in crockpot, place chicken on top, salt & pepper to taste, set to Low for 6-9 hours. I’m not joking, that is it. This meal can easily feed two adults for $5.47.
Sample Dinner B: Sausage and Peppers
Regardless of choice in sausage, the combination of peppers and onions is a surefire win.
-sweet italian pork sausage (3.49-4.19 per lb)
-sweet onion (.79-99 cents per lb)
-green bell peppers (1-3 peppers $1.00)
-red bell peppers (1-2 peppers $1.00)
-yellow bell peppers(1-2 peppers $1.00)
-Optional pan frying of the sausage for 60 seconds for appearance and presentation, chop up peppers and onions, place in crock pot, salt & pepper to taste, set to Low for 6-9 hours, enjoy.
These are two extremely cost effective, delicious meals to easily prepare for one to four people. The synopsis of this article is to provide a simple alternative dinner option for everyone from the simple bachelor, single parent, and family of four. I am only sharing based on experience and satisfaction with the result from a culinary and monetary standpoint. There are hundreds of potential recipes to explore. And don’t even get me started on rice cookers!
A straightforward approach toward augmenting the anterior pelvic tilt in experienced female athletes.
A common theme amongst intermediate female weightlifters and strength athletes, is the anterior pelvic tilt. Albeit aesthetically beneficial, it can be problematic in regards to athletic performance and overall spinal health. Position and alignment is key in order to allow adequate, balanced inter and intramuscular coordination. The immediate benefit is a neutral spine position, and decreased compressive forces of the lumbar vertebrae, a significant cause of discomfort and pain in any athlete. Another benefit to reduced compressive forces and overactive core musculature, is a greater overall force production through the primary movers of the hips….aka the glutes, which in turn….gives you the bigger butt you wanted in the first place. So ….why is my pelvis in rebellion? It’s the chicken or the egg theory, is it my weak glutes and hamstrings that lead to a dominant anterior chain( quads,hip flexors, psoas,) or is it my tight anterior chain that lead to my underactive posterior chain( glutes, hamstrings, erectors)? Rather than waste anytime deciding who to blame, blame both and fix both.
Take pictures and video, during gait assessment and squat mechanics, determine range of motion during hip flexion and hip extension, prone hamstring curl and lying knee extension. Then simply base degree of restriction during a battery of squats, deadlifts, leg lifts, glute bridges and abdominal movements. A simple visible gap between the hips and the floor during prone lying positions, and a pronounced visible gap between the lumbar and the floor during supine lying positions, makes an early case for dysfunction. Then perform a standing pelvic tilt to determine degree of flexion in the lower back so you have a baseline to build off of, after each corrective movement.
Standard Mobility and Strengthening
The obvious concern as stated before, is a limited anterior ROM, and an augmented posterior chain recruitment. Simplest starting point would be to promote increase of ROM in the front of the body via foam rolling and actively releasing the following muscle groups, (quadriceps, adductors, abductors, and psoas complex). Follow these releases by performing associated stretches that compliments each myofascial manipulation, ( stock image of foam rolling quadricep, ball release on psoas, foam roller on inner/outer thigh) ( stock image of equivalent stretch that compliments adjoining release). You may feel or experience more discomfort during certain areas than others, yet they are all valuable and contributing members of the dysfunction, spend ample time initially to insure mobility first. Then re-film the gait and squat mechanics, prone hamstring curl and abdominal movements to test efficacy. If improved, then follow up to strengthening, or repeat process once more to see additional changes. The flipside of the coin is to determine what areas of the posterior chain have been potentially weakened by the altered pelvic position. Primarily the most common muscle that requires the earliest attention is the gluteals, followed by the transverse abdominals. So a hefty combination of direct glute work and isometric abdominal exercises, can create a challenge to any level of athlete. Then always reassess the gait and squat mechanics to reiterate which muscle groups are engaged and which are not. This may be a bigger can of worms than expected, but also testing the hamstring flexibility in order to see how it affects the glute function. Then assess abdominal endurance to see if the stomach is allowing these habits based on sheer fatigue. No single answer is designed to answer the pelvic question, a laundry list of factors can predetermine these positional weak points. A general guideline is to mobilize the front, activate the backside, reinforce the brace of the abdominal wall, and build overall endurance on movements such as hip extension, hip flexion, and isometric ab work. So a standard protocol would appear as so;
- Gait assessment
- Squat mechanics
- Prone and supine visible assessment
- Active release and myofascial release on quadriceps, psoas, adductor/abductor
- Stretch anterior chain( hip flexor, upper quadriceps, psoas)
- Activate posterior chain( glutes, hamstrings,erectors)
- Test endurance on isometric contractions for glutes and abdominals
Then repeat process, measure ROM, and general postural assessment, take post video and pictures. Encourage mindfulness of position and hip mechanics. And report back with score sheets using pain relief, performance enhancement, flexibility, and strength gain as the metrics for success.
Of all the strength based sports that have encountered, none are more specific in regards to routine maintenance and potential injury, than arm wrestling. Albeit an honest assessment, I have also never encountered a group of individuals who are more dedicated to a specific purpose. Not a mainstream sport by far, but the community is heavily dedicated to the promotion and proliferation of its success. So without getting into too much detail about the intricacies of the sport and strategy, I want to focus of the anatomical function of the upper and lower arm, and hand. In order to have a plan to strengthen and maintain these components, you must first understand their design and purpose. Below is a sample breakdown of muscle components, their intra and intermuscular relationships, and how to develop those to perform as a single unit.
Bicep- primary design and function is elbow flexion
Tricep-primary design and function is elbow extension
Forearm– primary design is wrist flexion and extension
Shoulder- comprising of anterior, medial, and posterior heads, all in which contribute to the internal rotation, external rotation, and lateral, medial, and posterior abduction of the humerus.
There is a significant amount of recruitment of lats and pec as well, but I will focus on the therapeutic effect of upper and lower extremities of the arm complex to make a more concise outline of health and maintenance. In the following paragraphs I will breakdown a common issue or dysfunction that is the result of the stress induced from practice or competition, and a subsequent solution to manage inflammation and pain.
Three main points of stress during arm wrestling manifest at the wrist, elbow, and shoulder. Depending on the angle of resistance, sustained pressure, and the consistent change in those factors from start to completion, a lot of strain can take place, also a lot of strength can be built with this stimulus. The idea I would like to present is a map to outline a preventative approach to avoid these pitfalls and have a more seamless progression with strength.
Wrist and Hand maintenance
- Grip strength and endurance
- Lateral flexion and extension (rotation)
- Flexion and extension (curl and throttle)
The first and most applicable training method to increase grip strength and prevent overuse of the forearm flexors is to concentrate on extensor work( opening the fingers wide with or without specific resistance,in order to balance the heavy emphasis on gripping for long periods of time with heavy resistance, this will have a multitude of benefits that translate all the way through the upper arm as well, relieve elbow strain, and build a stronger overall grip. Higher repetitions and varying resistance is best practice to increase circulation and encourage recovery. Set a minimum number of daily repetitions and gradually increase over time to further encourage a training stimulus, consider the forearm flexors as the lower back of the forearm, respect it, and it will be there for you in return. I also encourage a minimum amount of wrist rotations with a closed and open hand position to build endurance and condition the wrist to withstand the lateral forces applied with pulling an opponent. And without question, grip work and the million variations that comprise strength challenges in regard to strengthening the clamping power of the hand. A beginner routine for a daily stimulus would consist of
- 100 clockwise wrist rotations(50 with a closed hand, 50 with extended fingers)
- 100 counterclockwise wrist rotations(50 with a closed hand,50 with extended fingers)
- 50 light rubber band finger extensions
- 3 max timed dead hangs from a pullup bar
- Hand towel squeezes throughout the day
- Wrist roller exercises as shown below
- Bicep curl as shown below
The next fulcrum and joint intersection, is the elbow. This is where it becomes increasingly important to maintain extensibility and circulation, based on the hinge design. The elbow and supportive musculature primarily work in a flexion and extension format, with little to no lateral and medial flexion or rotation. Much like the knee, it does not fair incredibly well with shearing or lateral forces, but that resistance and durability can be conditioned much like any specific movement. Focusing on the strength potential of the bicep and tricep with create an overall level of stability and endurance at the elbow joint with standard variations of curls and extensions. In addition to those movements, certain isometric exercises and grip variations, can create a bias of weight distribution that recruits the connective tissue of the elbow more definitively on one side to mimic the force of arm wrestling. With great power comes great maintenance, the soreness and inflammation at the elbow joint can sideline even the toughest competitor, so preventative maintenance is crucial to insure the longevity of the elbow. Soft tissue work directly to bicep,tricep and forearms, can be a reasonable first step in the aid of recovery from training. Enlisting self myofascial release to bicep and tricep trigger points, and flossing the upper forearm, elbow and upper arm, should result in better circulation, and restoration of full function faster than standard rest. These simple additions are the equivalent to practice drills in any other sport, they are not glamorous, but create lasting habits. (cr
The shoulder complex is a highly recruited link in the proverbial chain of strength for arm wrestling. It also happens to be a common case of dysfunction and overuse with most trainees, based on its overall recruitment in most upper body exercises. The position of the shoulder during most upper body exercises, determines the level of demand placed directly on one or all heads of the deltoid ( anterior, medial, posterior) and the balancing act of those three heads in conjunction with a healthy rotator cuff complex, is the biggest factor in pain management and longevity of the joint. Considering the act of arm wrestling places a heavy demand on internal rotation having structural integrity with that movement is highly important, as well as the reciprocal movement of external rotation to offset the constant overuse of practice and pulling. I encourage the thought process of finding equivalent development in all of the supportive structure of the shoulder, double down on posterior deltoid development. Not only will it have a lasting effect on overall shoulder health, but has massive carryover to all upper body resistance exercises, it helps stabilize bench press, overhead press, and every conceivable rowing variation, Rear delt fly, face pulls, high pulls, wide grip rows, paused reps on lat rowing and pullovers, all can contribute to building size and strength. So it deserves a considerable amount of attention, spend an appreciable amount of time developing that area. The idea is to create specific function and strength, without the complete abandonment of purposeful function of the body. And to not impede other activities based on the pursuit of efficiency in a particular sport.
In conclusion, the general guidelines for overall health and wellness is to strike a balance between actively pursuing skills acquisition, strength gain, and aesthetic balance, along with optimal function of joints, and connective tissue. Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. And reaching out to long term competitors for advice, people who have dealt with all the ups and downs of competition, training and injuries. Also, finding specific things that resonate with your own training, and compiling a personal bank of training methodology and knowledge.