Yoga, Workouts and Injury

If you’re reading fitness blogs, or even just Facebook, you’ve probably come across the controversy of “Crossfit’s Dirty Little Secret“.  It was very disconcerting to me to read about a woman who ended up with Rhabdomyolysis due to pushing herself too far in her Crossfit workouts.  The thing that really upset me though is that this is NOT a Crossfit thing, injury, of all types, during exercise is not at all new but it’s also not being handled with the gravity that it deserves.  

The issue here is two-fold.  For one, trainer “certification” comes in a variety of colors and may involve years of study, or a day spent reading a 20 page pdf online and taking an open-book quiz.  I personally feel that anyone working professionally as a trainer needs a firm education in anatomy, physiology and kinesiology, along with proper training of the type of exercise one is going to train in.  The problem is that “proper” has no standards.  So how do we know when we’re getting a good education as a trainer?  

First off, I’d want to know that the exercise feels comfortable in my own body and that I fully understand my own body mechanics while doing the exercises.  This means that it could take time to digest the material.  For example, I only became a yoga instructor after practicing yoga for many years before seeking teacher certification.  That might be overkill for some, but I’d bet that if you take a weekend certification class in yoga and you’ve never practiced before you probably don’t fully understand the body mechanics of each pose.  Since yoga is complex let’s take a simpler example, kettlebell certification.  This is one I’m seeing a lot and as a lover of kettlebells I have to say I’m concerned when I see that you can get certified in a weekend and go from never having touched a kettlebell before to teaching a class on it in two days.

Once you understand the exercise fully in your own body, then the big challenge is knowing how to adapt it for others.  Not all bodies are created equal and while you might be able to do 60 double KB swings, your brand-new-to-working-out client is probably not up to that challenge.  Not only do you have to adjust reps to fitness level, but you have to know how to adapt the exercise to different body mechanics.  For example, someone with scoliosis may not be able to get into that perfect Vinyasa Triangle pose that you’re pushing her into, perhaps a modified triangle or a triangle from another style of yoga would be more fitting.  Help your clients reach their goals by respecting their bodies for where they are and then safely coaching them further.

Which brings me to my next point…respect your OWN body.  I love pushing myself but I listen to my body and know my limits.  This is a very hard skill to learn and I’m still not perfect at it but when I get stuck I try to ask myself, “Why do I workout?”  I workout because I love my body, I love feeling healthy, strong and full of energy.  While being sore after a workout is OK on a small scale, if it hurts to lift a glass of water the next day or walk to my mailbox then I’m achieving the opposite of my goals.  To take a couple quotes from “How to Not Fucking Kill Your Clients” (a great, albeit brash, response to the Crossfit scare-tactic article above), “Are 400 push-ups going to help your clients reach the general fitness, and overall well-being they crave?”  Ask yourself that, will bashing on one relatively small group of muscles over and over again actually help you with your fitness goals?  If your goals are to end up in the hospital then sure. 😉

Now to end this rant with a more personal story.  I have been researching Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) trainings in my area.  Now RYT is not a high standard, per-say, it just means that teachers go through the Yoga Alliance, which doesn’t make them good or bad, but I wanted to see what was in my area as I continue my own training.  I started attending classes at a popular Vinyasa studio, thinking I would enroll in the teacher’s training course.  I found her classes to be VERY strict.  Vinyasa to her means that poses are done in a very specific way, and she went around the room manually adjusting people into these identical positions.  

On the plus side, I loved that I really sweat in her classes and you can tell by how full the room is that other people love this too.  On the downside, I noticed after taking her classes for over a month that I was developing injuries in my back and my wrists.  Her style of teaching was hurting me, and I hadn’t been listening enough to my body.  Since I still had paid classes on my card, I started going to courses at her studio offered by other teachers.  Many of them were trained by her so the form of the classes was basically the same, but I noticed some of the teachers allowed more flexibility, or at least didn’t push me into positions.  I still wondered though if I was missing something.  I doubted what my body was telling me and thought that maybe I just wasn’t up to par.  That’s when I went to a co-taught class and beforehand I listened to the two teachers discussing pains in their bodies.  They mentioned that the studio’s owner, the teacher I originally mentioned, had pushed one of them into a deep twist that she wasn’t ready for.  The other chimed in to say she does that all the time to her and she has to actually say “I’m not doing deep twists today.”  

I respect that especially with yoga there are many styles and some are very strict to honor the lineage of their style.  But I have to question the benefits of those practices if they’re injuring their students.  Can we still honor those strict styles while honoring the bodies of our students?  Can we learn to listen to them and be more aware?  If not, I’m afraid I’ll keep getting exercise-related injury clients in my massage practice.  My biggest advice to trainers out there is to take continuing education and challenge yourself to learn more, put yourselves in your clients shoes and adapt exercises for their fitness level.  To others like me who love those good hard workouts, trust your body to tell you when you’ve had enough.  If you’re in pain, don’t push it because you risk doing serious harm to your body or at least setting yourself back.

And with that, two quickie workouts.  The first is a low-cardio strength and stretching workout that I did after four days of pretty intense cardio.  The second is a nice shortie to get your pulse up without taking a lot of time out of the day.

9/3/13 – Strength and Stretching
  1. Pushups x 10
  2. Child’s Pose ~45 sec.
  3. Pyramid Bicep forward and reverse curls (12 reps @ low weight, 10 reps @ medium weight, 8 reps @ high weight, 10 reps @ medium weight, 12 reps at low weight; I used 8, 10 + 15lb weights, if you’re starting out I recommend 2, 5 and 8lb weights)
  4. Child’s Pose ~45 sec.
  5. Pyramid Triceps (same reps as pyramid biceps but using only one weight and doing seated overhead triceps extension and dumbbell skull crushers)
  6. Child’s Pose ~45 sec.
  7. Side-Crunch L x 10
  8. Side-Crunch R x 10
  9. Full sit-up x 10
  10. Bridge or wheel ~45 sec.
  11. Savasana 3-10 mins.
 
9/11/13 –  Intervals (3 Rounds, 45 sec activity 15 sec rest)
  1. KB Swings
  2. KB Snatch R
  3. KB Snatch L
  4. Box Jumps
  5. Weighted Sit-Ups

Sweat and Smoothies

 
 
 
Well it may have been too long since the last time I wrote, but the workouts haven’t stopped and neither has the healthy eating!  My original workouts are starting to really kick my ass.  Exhibit A:Image
This was after today’s workout, which is the last one on the list here.  It’s the first time I’ve done box jumps and now I understand the fuss.  They feel to me like burpees did before I did the 90 Day Burpee Challenge.  Great way to get your heart rate UP!  I found that following them up with snatches and the kettlebell renegade row was really brutal. It made pull-ups a relief, which is saying a lot.  So without further ado here is my backlog of original workouts to share.  Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom for a delicious smoothie recipe. 🙂
 
7/6/13
Buy-In: 10 Burpees
 
45 sec activity/15 sec rest/3 rounds
  1. KB Snatch-Reverse Lunge R
  2. KB Snatch-Reverse Lunge L
  3. Double KB step-ups
  4. Elevated Plank Pushup/Knee Tuck
  5. Ab roller
  6. Weighted Sit-Ups

Buy-Out: 10 Burpees

 
7/12/13
45 sec activity/15 sec rest/2 rounds
  1. KB Swings
  2. KB Clean R
  3. KB Clean L
  4. KB Reverse Lunge
  5. Weighted Lunge Twists
  6. KB Renegade Row
  7. Reverse Crunch
  8. Side-Plank Toe Touch
  9. Front plank
  10. Pull-ups
7/16/13
45 sec activity/15 sec rest/3 rounds
  1. 6 Turkish Getups (3 each side)
  2. KB Single-leg Deadlift R
  3. KB Single-leg Deadlift R
  4. Ab Roller
  5. Weighted Ab Twists
  6. Pilates Hundreds
  7. Plank w/ Knee Tuck
7/18/13
45 sec activity/15 sec rest/2 rounds
  1. KB Swings
  2. Thruster R
  3. Thruster L
  4. KB Bent-Over Row
  5. Weighted Lunge-Twist
  6. Plank->Side Planks
  7. Dive Bombers
  8. Pilates Sit-Ups
  9. Bicycle w/ out-and-in-arms
  10. Pull-ups
8/2/13 – Time Challenge, 3 Rounds (My Time: 18:45)
  1. Box jumps x 20
  2. KB Snatch R x 10
  3. KB Snatch L x 10
  4. KB Renegade Row x 10
  5. Lunge Twist R x 5
  6. Lunge Twist L x 5
  7. Pull ups x 3-10 depending on your fitness level

And now for something completely different delicious…

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Raspberry Mint Smoothie

I’m on a mint kick right now and have really enjoyed adding it to my smoothies.  It’s great for digestion and adds a nice refreshing kick to the smoothie.  I’ve also learned that many fresh herbs go well in smoothies and have lately enjoyed cilantro and basil; can’t wait to find more good combinations!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 tbsp flax seeds (or try using sprouted flax or chia seeds!)
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 2-3 sprigs of mint
  • 1/2 package frozen raspberries

Mix that up in your blender until smooth and you will have a sucka-punch of flavor to your face!

Speaking of sprouted flax and chia seeds, that’s been my latest experiment and I’m pretty happy with the results:

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That is chia on the left and flax on the right.  It took only a week to go from seed to overflowing sprouts that were pushing the top of the container off.  They added a really nice fresh flavor to my smoothies and some wonderful nutrients.  The one thing I haven’t been able to find out is if sprouted flax and chia are more or less nutritious than the raw seeds.  If anyone has info on that I’d love to see it!

Keep healthy!

Workouts, Strawberries and a Positive Body Image

Another week, another workout!  Yesterday I had the day off for the US Independence Day.  In preparation of a few extra drinks I crafted a high-intensity full-body workout.  I was really happy with this one and felt it was pretty well-balanced.  It was also the first time I tried doing double kettlebell step-ups and I was surprised how much the 50lbs slowed me down.  It was a great exercise for legs, abs and balance; probably my favorite and the hardest of the whole workout.  Want to give it a try?

7/4/13 – Set interval timer to 3 rounds 45 sec activity, 15 sec rest.  I used 25lb kettlebells and a 20lb free-weight for the ab twists.

  Buy-In: 1 min high knees
  1. Sumo Jumps
  2. Double KB step-ups
  3. KB Lunge-Row
  4. Kneeling Ab Wheel Rollout
  5. Pull-Ups
  6. Weighted Seated Ab Twists 
  7. Hanging leg-lifts
  Buy-Out: 1 min high knees
 
After that brutal workout (especially in the 90ºF weather we were having) I was ready for a reward.  I found this amazing recipe for vegan, gluten free, grain free strawberry icebox pie.  I grabbed two pints of local strawberries and gave it a go!  I added some raw chocolate to the crust but other than that I used the recipe as written, it is so delicious!  And so healthy!  You have to try it:
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I was really inspired by this blog post from Marianne at myomytv.com.  As someone who follows both her and Zuzka’s workouts it was interesting to see both in the same forum.  I didn’t agree with all of Marianne’s points but I absolutely loved her sentiments about improving our bodies:
 
What do you LOVE? While achieving your strength goals, focus on what you love, not what you want to fix.”
 
THIS.  Thisthisthis.  I’ve mentioned before that I gained respect for exercise late in life, while attending school for Massage Therapy.  I spent my childhood trying to feign illnesses to get out of gym class, and saying “I only run if someone’s chasing me.”  
 
While I dabbled in sports in school, overall I had a very negative view of them.  When I look at the reason for that it really came down to my values not seeming to fit in with the values being thrown on my in gym and on teams.  For one thing, I never understood why people get so brutally invested in sporting events.  I’m all for having fun and rooting for a team, but I can’t connect with the devastation feel when “my” team doesn’t win and how even when a team does win the reaction can be expressed by rioting.  I also don’t understand the amount of corruption in sports with athletes drugging themselves up, dramatically altering their diets to either gain or lose weight, and the perpetuated idea that if you don’t win you’re worthless.  There seems to be a lot of shaming and negative reinforcement in our athletic fields.  I could write a whole entry on this but this is not what’s really goading me right now.  This is about body image.
 
The other issue that really bothers me in the athletic arena is the idea that people should exercise to lose weight, gain muscle, look like that trainer they’ve been ogling over, and basically that they have to change their body to fit some universal image of what “in shape” looks like.  Now let me say right now, I’m not dissing the idea of exercising to lose weight or gain muscle, but I don’t think it should be the predominant driving factor.  I believe that if we all took a more positive approach to diet and exercise as lifestyle choices that there would be higher success rates.
 
I work out and eat right because I love how it makes me feel.  I love the increase in energy.  I love feeling strong and flexible.  I love seeing my body change in ways I didn’t know it could.  It’s also AWESOME that weight loss and more muscle mass comes along with that but if I looked at those two as the defining factors of what makes me fit then I’d always be disappointed.
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Zuzka is gorgeous.  But, if my goal was to look like Zuzka, I would be fighting an uphill battle that I can’t win. I heard a story on VPR recently that discussed a research study done with about 100 women.  They were asked to record their daily diet in a notebook.  Half were given a notebook with a slender woman on the cover and on each page, the other half were given a notebook with just a tape-measure on the cover and each page.  The women given the notebook with the tape-measure lost weight on average.  The women with the notebook with the slender woman GAINED weight on average.  The group conducting the research study said that the women who gained weight just gave up when they realized they could never look like the slender woman.  It actually caused them to over-eat.  Body-shaming does not work.
 
I will never look like Zuzka.  I frankly don’t have the bone structure for it, let alone the genetics to get my body fat percentage that low without working out 5-6 hours per day.  And you know what?  That’s totally ok!!  I look like ME and the more I work out the more I get to discover how my body feels when it’s strong.  I get to explore what I look like when I’m in shape and I get to push my own limits to see what I can physically do.  
 
The line that I’m sure all of you have heard before is Love Your Body.  That’s really it.  If you love your body then you’re going to want to keep it in shape.  You’re going to want to exercise.  You’re going to want to eat right.  LOVE YOUR BODY.  No one else will ever look just like you.  You have the privilege of exploring what your body can do when it’s well taken care of.
 
We all have an inner critic and I know it can be really hard to see past that.  But remember you have a choice.  It doesn’t have to be hard.  It can be really easy.  And it’s a choice you can continue to make.  Did you decide to have a Philly cheesesteak and now you feel like crap?  That’s ok, you can make a different choice tomorrow.  Did you skip your workout for a day?  A week?  A month?  THAT’S OK, because you can choose to work out RIGHT NOW. 😉  
 
Just do me a favor and don’t let your main motivation to be out of shame.  If you work you for YOU there’s a good chance You WILL lose weight and you WILL gain muscle but the bigger point is feeling good in your own skin and letting the pride that you take in yourself be your motivator.  If you truly want to get out of the cycle of working out for a few months and then giving up for the next six months then you need to get past the “90-Day Challenges” and the quick-fix instant-gratification crash courses and really think about the positive effects eating well and exercising have on your body.  Love your body and you won’t have to think about short-term goals, you will find yourself in a healthy long-lasting fitness routine not because society is telling you that’s what you should want, but because that’s what YOU want.

Upper Arm Beatings and Post-Workout Pancakes!

One of my friends, Rosie of Rock Bodies, is a personal trainer who often posts delicious healthy recipes to Facebook.  She found a recipe for pancakes that uses just two ingredients: banana and eggs.  Seriously, that’s it.  They are AMAZING.  Before I made them though I had to finish my workout for the day (especially since I was having local sausage with my pancakes).

Today I wanted to focus on arms and abs.  Yesterday I did Zuzka’s ZShred #3 which was a legs-intensive high-intensity workout.  I really prefer full-body workouts and while I felt like a new person after this workout, it ended up being too much for me and I am HURTING today. So I decided to take it easier on my legs.  This workout will definitely get your heart rate up but it’s primarily a strength training workout and while it’s an upper-body focus there’s definitely leg involvement as well.

6/29/13 – Set interval timer to 2 rounds 45 sec activity, 15 sec rest
  1. KB Swing
  2. KB Snatch R
  3. KB Snatch L
  4. Weighted pilates sit-ups
  5. Plank climbers
  6. Pull-ups (as many as you can do
  7. Dive bombers
  8. Renegade Row
  9. Single-Leg deadlifts
  10. Dragon flags

Once you’ve completed that you deserve some pancakes right?

Paleo Pancakes

Paleo High Protein Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Banana
  • Optional: pinch of cinnamon
  • Optional: ~1tbsp protein powder or tapioca flour

Directions:

  1. Beat the banana and egg together.  You’re done making the batter!  No, seriously, this recipe couldn’t be easier.  I used my Vitamix to mix them but you can easily do it by hand.  I added cinnamon, which turned out great.  I also made the mistake of using jumbo eggs so my batter was a bit too thin so I added some tapioca flour to thicken it.  You can use protein powder as a thickener if you prefer (I recommend using a plant-based powder without GMOs, soy or whey).
  2. Cook on skillet like normal pancakes.  I recommend making them small and thin (the large one in the picture was to finish off my batter).

I found with the sweetness of the banana no syrup was necessary, though I’m sure if you like you can add some maple syrup or agave.  Enjoy!!

Day 48, 4320 Burpees, 25 Miles, Healthy Meatloaf!

I’m past the halfway point on my 90 day challenge and the burpees are starting to get easier, but they’re still pretty terrible.  My running is getting better and yesterday I was really reminded how much I prefer running outside to running on a treadmill.

ImageI hadn’t been running outside due to my extreme distaste of the cold.  Ok, maybe not “extreme”, I mean I do live in Vermont, but running in minimalist shoes outside hasn’t been a fun experience for me in the past.  However, after a very trying week I woke up yesterday craving something new.  It was beautiful out!  Fresh powder on the ground and the sun was pouring down.  I decided to buck up and head out trail running.  I popped on my Injinji socks and my Vibrams and downloaded ZombiesRun! to my iphone.  I was waiting for Spring to try that game out but this seemed like the perfect time, plus they were having a 50% off sale on it this weekend!

I won’t lie, my feet got cold, but not too cold to stop me.  Plus once I got about half a mile in they seemed ok, though when I got home and popped my shoes off my toes were pretty icy.  The Zombies game kept me motivated and I ended up running farther than my goal and, what’s more exciting, I ran continuously instead of taking speed-walking breaks like I do on the treadmill.  While the game may have helped motivate me, the soft snow and fresh air is really what kept me running and engaged.  It was just beautiful out and I was finally able to bring my pup running with me again; we both had a great time!  I’m excited for real Spring to hit VT so I can get out there more often.

Lastly, let’s talk meatloaf!

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I’ve had many people ask me what I can eat on my elimination diet.  Really, I’ve been eating very similar to how I was eating before: smoothies and then a protein and veggies for dinner. The thing I have to be strict about is not adding gluten or dairy to my meal, along with the slew of other allergens that I mentioned in my previous post.  I’m also still watching my full nutrition intake and keeping things low-carb since I was doing that before I found out I had a bunch of food allergies.

Meatloaf is definitely a comfort food, but with the millions of meatloaf recipes out there it’s important to remember you CAN make a healthy version of it.  I spliced together a few recipes and made this omgyouwillwanttoeatthewholepan meatloaf that’s less than 300 calories per slice and packed with veggies and protein!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2lb Lean Ground Beef (I used local grass-fed beef and highly recommend you try to do the same)
  • 2 large carrots shredded 
  • 1 zucchini shredded
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano, minced
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 jar pasta sauce (try to choose a low-carb version with no or low sugar, or make your own!)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Sautée carrots, zucchini, onions, and garlic in olive oil until soft (~10 mins).  Set aside to cool, or put in the fridge for a few minutes.
  3. Beat eggs/egg whites in large bowl.  Add veggie mix, all herbs/spices, ground beef and 3/4 of pasta sauce jar.  Mix well.
  4. Form mixture into a loaf (it will be wet and won’t hold shape very well, that’s ok!) and put in large loaf pan.  Top with remaining pasta sauce.
  5. Cook for ~1.5 hours or until thermometer reads at least 165ºF.  Let sit for 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Now I’ve made a lot of meatloaf in my day and I have to say in full honesty that this was the most delicious meatloaf I’ve ever made!!  It trumped my cheese-filled bacon-wrapped meatloaf…seriously.  Granted, my boyfriend (who is not on my diet) fried the leftovers in bacon fat, so obviously the recipe could be improved on if you’re not counting your calories.

 

 

1620 Burpees Down, Let’s Start Running!

I think I must be insane.  I mean, I have to be a crazy person.  I’m doing these 90 burpees a day along with a Zuzka workout once a day and now on top of that I’m running a mile a day.  Honestly, when I put it like that it doesn’t sound that crazy; an olympian practicing hours a day definitely has me beat.  But for me, it’s A LOT and I’M SORE, but I’m sticking with it.

I added in the mile run because I’m honestly not at all happy with my lack of weight loss on my current program.  My nutrition is nice and stable at this point with a good mix of fruits, veggies lots of protein and light on carbs/dairy/gluten/sugar.  I’m not looking to lose a lot of weight but I have about 20-30lbs more fat than I think is my ideal healthy-level.  I totally understand muscle weighs more, but it’s clear to me in the past few weeks that I’m focused more on strength training than cardio and I need a better mix.

Running this time of year is depressing to me.  I have a treadmill, whooptidoo.  I could run outside but with my Vibrams + living in Vermont that’s a very cold proposition.  So I’m stuck on the treadmill until the snow melts unless I get crazy enough for barefoot winter running, which I know some people do.

Not much new on the nutrition side so I have no new fun recipes to share today.  Instead, I’m wondering what your favorite healthy recipes are?  And if you have a Vitamix what are some of your favorite things to make?

1080 Burpees in 12 Days, Green is GOOD

1080 burpees down, more than I care to count to go!  I’m hurting but not enough to complain about it here just yet.  This is a quickie entry to share my latest Vitamix creation:

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Vegan Spinach “Cheese” dip.  I swear, that might not look delicious but it TASTES delicious.  Since I’m new to the world of Vitamix vegan cheeses I didn’t alter the recipe at all so you can find it in all it’s glory right over here.  Next time I’d definitely blend it less so it’s chunkier and not quite all-over-green.  I will say that neither my boyfriend nor I are vegan but we both thoroughly enjoyed this accompanied by lentil crackers, carrots, celery and snap peas.  I’m also a huge fan with how much of this recipe is raw.

I also made a raw cashew “cheese” dip directly from the Vitamix Create recipe book but I have to say I wasn’t impressed.  So unimpressed that I’m not even bothering to write about it here.  My boyfriend liked it, I thought it was…funky.  Like, ear funk funky.  So tell me, blogosphere, what raw nut cheese recipes do you love?  I’m on a quest!