Breathing

-How important is breathing?

-Besides it being what keeps you alive?

Well, let me tell you.

In short, poor breathing technique can lead to a host of problems including but not limited to:
-Muscle impingement/poor movement mechanics
-Overactive muscles
-Stress injuries (there are so many we could count off that we run into regularly)

How could the lungs cause all of these problems?

Like all body-related things, they are very connected to everything else! The body is a movement SYSTEM that works like a machine. If one part of the machine is not working efficiently/correctly, negative effects will be seen everywhere else in the system. There is a theory by Mike Boyle and Gray Cook that discusses how a joint is designed to be either stable or mobile and if it is not continuously made to be so, can result in injury. More intense discussion here if you feel so inclined. Final point here being this: even though there might be pain in one place, it is often a problem stemming from a joint adjacent to it. 

Back to the lungs. The breathing machine (lungs, diaphragm, etc) are PHYSICALLY ATTACHED to the spine via the Crus (plural of crura). They can be found at the bottom of the picture below. 
 

Getting to the point. You breathe 22,000 times a day...22,000 times a day!!! Now imagine a diaphragm that is unequally doing work/pulling (which is what we have because we have things taking up space in our body that get in  the way of the diaphragm, i.e. heart, liver, etc.) on our spine 22,000 times a day. In short, this rotates our spine, results in us sitting into our right hip, resulting in a stress injuries because we are unable to get into the other hip. 

There ARE ways to correct this. It takes focused work on the Left Hamstring, the Left Adductor, the Right Tricep, the Right Low Trap, abdominal muscles, correct breathing, (and more). 

What I recommend: Learn how to breathe correctly.

Pick up a balloon and start there. Yes, a balloon or a coffee stirrer (not the wood ones). You need to teach yourself to breathe equally on both sides before ANYTHING. 

This is only the beginning of the breathing lessons. More to come soon.

PLEASE Subscribe/Reply or fill out the "Getting Started" section of the "About" tab above if you have any questions or would like exercises to do specifically in regards to strengthening the above. 

Thanks for reading!

Correction from last post: Forgot to finish the recommendation section with a phrase that changes the actual recommendation: EAT YOUR FRUITS AND VEGGIES!!! DO NOT AVOID THEM!

 

 

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Insulin Part 2 - Glycemic Index vs Glycemic Load

Hi there! Happy Sunday! 

Let's get back into the discussion about our buddy Insulin.

While everything I said previously is true, and a great starting point for losing weight (fat mostly), there is another fun aspect that is important to talk about - glycemic load.

Quick review of previous post: High Glycemic Index (HGI) Carbs are responsible for big spikes in insulin, our fat and sugar storage hormone. So, a good way to manage weight and increase weight loss is to manipulate the spikes in this hormone. Timing the spikes can result in large blocks of time in which your body prefers to burn fat (when protein is present). More on protein soon.

Glycemic Index (GI  <55 is Low) vs. Glycemic Load (GL <10 is low)
Glycemic Load is calculated by multiplying the Glycemic Index (GI) of a food by the number of Carbs present in an average portion of that food (or the amount we might eat). Certain foods are denser than others in that regard. 
Example 1, Carrots
Glycemic Index (GI) is sort of high: 71. Its glycemic load (GL), however, is 7.2 (in the low part of the scale)
Example 2, Corn Flakes.
GI is 84 (high). GL is 23 (high)

So...what exactly should I be avoiding then Austin? The answer is 'nothing'. You should never cut anything from your diet unless it physically causes a reaction. I put this here so that you can strategically plan your meals so as to effectively manipulate fat burning/fat storing zones.  Here is the bullet point version I have condensed for you of the confusing glycemic index/loads. 

  • Pretty much all fruits and vegetables. Yes, even pineapple, watermelon, pumpkin, carrots, corn (corn having one of the highest GL of vegetables in the medium glycemic response range) are GOOD FOR YOU.
  • Generally, potatoes are high on both, not ideal for cutting weight/fat, but can be used strategically. Sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic load than regular potatoes.
  • Milk, even the full fat versions are actually quite low on the glycemic index/load scales.
  • Even wheat breads are somewhat high in GI and moderate in GL, avoiding wheat and refined grains is generally for the better. Save for cheat meals or bulking.

Here is an international list of foods and their respective GI and GL. Kinda cool to check out, but again, look for trends, and plan your diet around what is convenient but fits in your plan to remain in a fat burning-as opposed to fat storing-zone for as long as possible. 

Please let me know if you have any questions! And please take a minute to follow me on Instagram/Twitter and like my page on Facebook. Buttons below!

Thanks!

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The Variable Nobody Wants to Talk About - STRESS

Quick story:

I have had multiple clients that have found that they are unable to continue making progress towards their fitness goals. As a trainer that hopes to have influence over multiple aspects of a clients' life, I often feel straight up at fault. It makes me want to dive into every aspect of their life and play around with all of the variables - because there must be a way...right?

Yes and No. Everyone should be able to continue making progress towards a fitness goal (sans something like birth control, for example, that can impede weight loss), but what we run into is a variable that few trainers even consider...stress. 

Biologically, the stress response found in animals is an amazing thing! It sets the body up to act in a moment's notice to an environmental stimulus that could potentially be deadly (i.e. getting chased by a bear). Unfortunately for our urban societies, however, this same response is triggered when we are psychologically stressed out from unpaid bills, an argument with a friend, busy times at work, planning a wedding, etc. 

Here's what I have run into as a trainer when I know that the client I am dealing with is stressed out:

  • Muscle tightness and pain that doesn't seem to go away despite being worked on
  • Inability to pay attention to the workouts - all sorts of anxiety and a constant need to check email
  • Eating and drinking stuff that they know is counterproductive to their goals (and not strategically)
  • Sleeping too little

I did a little bit of research to see what else happened when one is chronically stressed out:

  • Memory problems ensue
  • Poor Judgement
  • Constant Worrying
  • Irritability
  • Overwhelmed Feelings
  • Constantly getting sick
  • Reliance on alcohol/drugs to relax

Unfortunately, chronic stress is a side effect of living in our society today. Not only are we bombarded by stimuli environmentally, we are pushed to the emotional and psychological brink through work and interpersonal relationships. In this world, it is important to find...no, MAKE time to destress AND decompress. 

Everyone's stressors are different, so responding to them should be customized to your individual needs. Just because you are meditating or doing yoga, you need to look at what may be required to truly get away from what is causing the biggest problems. While a vacation from a stressful job would be ideal, I understand that this is the real world and maybe it needs to be thought of as a smaller, more regular effort at getting away from work. I find it fascinating that when clients go on vacations, their muscular problems tend to go away or lessen.  

Some ideas that have helped me or people I know get away from the stress:

  • Meditation (daily): They have great phone apps and such that are a great way to get yourself immersed in this now as the market for it increases every day. From there, seek out ways to do meditation in a less tech-oriented way to increase its effects. 
    • Side Plug: If you are interested in trying out a great combo class of exercise followed by meditation, check out Lifted in San Francisco. Website here. Know the owner, love his passion and his ideology.
  • Tech Redux: Stay away from your phone, computer, and TV (even though it may feel relaxing, news and shows can be tiring and stressful too). Find yourself getting into a book, game, or hobby that takes your mind off of your daily life stresses. 
    • One of my favorite things to do to get away from my phone is take a walk without it. We live in a beautiful city, filled with all sorts of stressors; but if you go out with a relaxed mind and no phone you will see just how beautiful it is. 
  • Vacation: This is a big one. I know that it is not exactly easy to just go on vacation, but try to plan one in the near future. It will help ease the stress and give you stuff to do when you need to get away from work for a little bit.
  • Deep breathing exercises (you can even do this one at work!): Like the ones found here.  As you may know, I am a huge fan of correct breathing as it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to functional movement. Bad breathing technique is directly correlated with tension in the body and is a good indication of how stressed out you are. The PRI breathing exercises are another example of focused breathing that can help you relax.

    I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on how to manage stress. Reply to the subscription email directly to contact me! 

     

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Stretching 101

I have gotten a lot of requests to discuss stretching on here from clients, so I will do so now. 

Couple things to think about before I dive into stretches to do at home/work.

Why do we think we stretch? 

  • Because it increases flexibility
  • Because it decreases soreness
  • Because it increases mobility
  • Because it warms us up

Stretching 101:
What happens to a muscle when it is stretched?
In short, muscles are like rubber bands. If they get overstretched, they actually lose some of their ability to contract. Short is technically stronger until it reaches a point where it is no longer biomechanically advantageous. 

On Increasing flexibility:
Yes. This is a thing. This is how gymnasts, yogis, dancers, cheerleaders, etc are all able to reach their foot to their head (poor hamstring...). However, this should only be done to a point. Stretching a muscle past that point, especially when the surrounding musculature is not equally stretched and such, ends up actually subluxing the ball-like part of bones (i.e. humerus/femur) out of the joint. 

In fact, it is more important to focus on repositioning the hip/thorax/spine rather than hyper stretching the hamstrings, for example but we will talk more specifically about that in a future post (PRI FTW).

For the sake of this post, it is important to be able to move through ranges of motion that allow you to move well in daily life. So, if your hamstrings are SO tight that you can't bend at the waist even a little bit without your back rolling downward because you literally sit 15 hours a day, then yeah, perhaps a little hamstring stretching is in order along with a hip mobility exercise.

On decreasing soreness:
Yes. There was study done that showed that stretching (especially when done post-workout) can decrease soreness. So, try to stretch after workouts, and especially the muscles that would be tightening up from overuse in the workout.

On increasing mobility:
This is the tricky one. Mobility is not flexibility, but they are related. I think of mobility as the ability to get into a certain position in order to perform a movement successfully. For example, in order to do a deadlift correctly, it takes a certain amount of hip mobility (which includes hamstring flexibility, glute flexibility, core strength, femoral joint laxity/support). So yes, stretching can influence a part of the mobility, which is why stretching out a group of muscles could potentially aid in increasing mobility when combined with other aspects.

On warming up:
This one's quick. Dynamic greater than Static. Dynamic stretching (my clients know this very well), is better to do for a warm up. You want to get the system of muscles moving as a unit - because that is how your body moves - as a unit. Static stretching (sitting there and lengthening the muscle - like what would aid in soreness prevention) has been shown to decrease a muscles' ability to contract and inadequately warms it up. 

That being said, stretching is better than sitting in a chair all day. I would recommend moving enough to make sure that the entire system gets a chance to warm up, then doing some of the stretches once they are warmed up - especially the ones that will benefit YOUR functional movement patterns. I am posting my favorite mobility and stretching exercises that I have seen work well for the hip and chest. Not my videos but good ones to go with. 


Hamstring/Hip Mobility:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gi0K3g7VSM

Hip Flexor/Glute/Piriformis: all are good on the page. Pigeon included
http://www.stack.com/a/4-hip-flexor-stretches-to-relieve-tight-hips

Adductors (he throws in a hamstring stretch...not sure how I feel about it, stick with the adductors): Tactical Frog
https://vimeo.com/53241798

Chest stretch: This video...I have no words...but the stretch is good. Door Frame Pec
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jkso6HSGYng

Lat/Serratus Anterior: "Hanging" stretch
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LMutsKOokk

 

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FOOD FOCUS: Insulin and its Effects on Our Metabolism

While I plan on ranting about a lot of things on this blog, something I hope to do more of is educate. I want people coming here to learn something useful to take home and apply to their goals/lifestyle. 

TODAY'S TOPIC! 

INSULIN!

I am going to do my best here to REALLY OVERSIMPLIFY and clear up what I find to be the key to success in the diet world - the manipulation of Insulin. 

It's kind of interesting to see all of the pop-up workout places (as discussed in previous post/rant). Their goal continues to be to provide the most intense workout. Correct, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is pretty much the BEST and the FASTEST way to shed fat - from a workout standpoint. Not only does it stimulate fat loss (EPOC) and muscle gain (from increases in GH production, etc.) at the same time (some think of it as the combination of cardio and strength training), but it also FEELS like a workout. People love it, and ideally, everyone that does these pop-up workout classes would possess God-like physiques...right?

Some say that abs are made in the kitchen. Even as a person that does not do "phrases" like this, or 'stick in the mud', or 'the pot calling the kettle black' because I think they are inefficient uses of our vocal cords and mindspace; I do agree. We all have abs, they just need to be uncovered and to some extent bulked up so that we can see them better. The point being this: your [fat loss and muscle gain] results are going to come a lot faster (let alone at all) with an increased focus on diet. 

Why the roundabout way of getting to the main topic of Insulin?

1) This is my blog so I can do whatever I want.

2) It is important that these posts promote a general healthy lifestyle for which most of my clients and people that will be reading this, should be striving. I am here to fight Wall-E becoming a reality (at least some aspects of it - wouldn't mind the vacation spaceship thing).

3) Because it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT for people to realize that not everyone should just be turning up the intensity without tweaking other aspects of their life in order to see results. 

Okay, here we are now - Insulin. 

But first, let me take a selfie.

Okay, for real now. Insulin is a major hormone in our body that has a direct effect on BOTH glucose (sugar absorption) and fat storage.

We need insulin to help transport blood sugars into the cells - which is a good thing because it will be used or stored within the cell for use as fast energy later. 

We also need it because it allows the liver to store extra sugar as well. All fine and good so far.

As humans, it is important to have insulin for this other reason: fat storage. When no more can be stored in the liver or cells as glucose/glycogen, the body basically has to store it somewhere else as fat. Yeah, it sucks, but it still makes sense in terms of energy because it still possible to turn that fat back into usable energy later. So, what I am saying is don't hate on our buddy insulin. He's a hard working one that insulin. 

So let's take a look at how this works in our diets. 

Every time that we eat, insulin is released. The amount that is released is largely dependent on the type of food eaten. I will simplify things into these groups: Low Glycemic Index (LGI) Carbs, High Glycemic Index (HGI) Carbs, Protein, and Fat. Some examples of LGI carbs would be beans, cruciferous veggies, leafy greens, some berries. Some examples of HGI carbs would be white bread, candy, potatoes, honey
Here is a list of things on a glycemic index - don't get too into the detail, it can get exhausting, look for trends.

Sorry, getting lengthy here, so I will try to hurry this up
LGI carbs, Protein, and Fat stimulate a relatively low insulin response
HGI carbs stimulate a relatively high insulin response 

Now, imagine you eat a steady amount of all four at every meal. Try a steak sandwich (fat, protein, HGI carbs) with a small side salad (LGI carbs) for every meal of one day, for example. In regards to insulin, it is constantly at work, constantly being told by the liver and cells that they can no longer store any more sugar, so it has to store it as fat. Sure, not the worst, or even unhealthiest thing around, but it wreaks havoc on the body over time. Not only are you storing fat more because your body can't take up any more purely because of volume; your body even starts getting desensitized to insulin's presence. And there you have it, Type 2 Diabetes.

Not everyone I train is on their way to Diabetes by any means, but it is important to understand that even if you feel like you eat 'healthy and organic,' there is more going on than just that in terms of fat loss.

Quick side note: Will probably rant about FAD diets soon. But it is interesting to digest why they become FADs and what the science is behind them. More to come.

ALSO, my favorite part of the Insulin spiel: Guess who acts like our boy Insulin and actually stuffs blood sugar into cells without insulin around? Our girl EXERCISE. Yes, this is why exercise is SOOOO important for fat loss, overall health maintenance, etc.

Now let's talk about strategy. 

NEVER, EVER eliminate an entire food group from your body unless it actually causes an allergic reaction. We need all of the Macronutrients (HGI/LOW GI carbs, fat, protein) and Micronutrients to maintain overall health, but there are ways to make sure doing this doesn't affect your fitness goals negatively. 

ALWAYS think about timing. I actually think of it in terms of insulin response. Obviously, different goals, different strategies in terms of carbs (i.e. bulking). I also like to imagine (I learned this from something, but don't quote me too hard), that our bodies take 8 hours to work through the carbohydrates we eat at a meal. Again, oversimplification, but if you imagine those 8 hours need to go by before you are in what I call a FAT BURNING ZONE (because your body is no longer running on fast carbohydrate energy/insulin/FAT STORING) then you will see why I choose to have all of my HGI/LGI carbs around late morning/lunch.

Fat Loss meal plan strategy - again, basic, but it doesn't tell you to stop eating anything, just time it right

Breakfast: Low/No Carb, Hi Fat/Protein
Lunch: Med-High Carb (both HGI and LGI good here), Med-Hi Fat/Protein
Dinner: Low Carb (mostly LGI at that), Hi Fat/Protein
FAT BURNING ZONE shortly after dinner and throughout the night until I stimulate insulin production around Lunch the next day.

The reason for doing it into sleep is simple - more time to not have to think about being hungry or craving carbohydrates for the drugs they are. Plus, your body is still burning fat when asleep, so might as well make it as easy as possible for it to do so.

Simple and effective. The trickiest part for most people to overcome is the energy in the morning without something like a fruit. I personally go for black coffee with some cinnamon on it and I feel satisfied and energetic. 

 

 

 

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Welcome to an Austin Rant

Many of my close friends/ SOs have noticed that I go off on rants regarding things I am very passionate about. Some of those things include: Grammar, science (not that surprising), people (I mean, if I am passionate about some of these things, I am going to run into those that do not meet expectations haha), politics (don't get me started on the stuff right now - I straight up get flustered); music (especially those that are ACTUALLY musically talented), and a few more (NOTICE the Oxford comma, thanks).

Probably the most important one, though, is fitness and/or exercise.

As a fitness professional, it is important for me to be up to speed on workout/diet/exercise/fitness FADS. Yeah, I said it...FADS! 

Some are better than others. I don't want to get into specifics because I want this to be a very positive and uplifting blog, but SOULCY- I mean - CROSSF - sorry, I'm terrible at this...let's just keep it at 'some are better than others.'

Which brings me to what I want to talk about. 

I am one of the first people in the world to say, "do whatever gets you to move/workout". That's the point right? Stay active. Uh, yeah I mean let's make sure that what we are doing is going to be benefitting us in the long run and that whatever it is we are doing for a workout is supplementary to our lifestyle.

YES, if you spin for an hour and burn 400-1000 calories (on the high side I think - not sure - also doesn't change my point), and then you go eat a sandwich and fries, I'll just go ahead and say WORKOUT WASTED. Oh wait, but carbs, good for post-workout...right? Well, yes, they are used to restore glycogen (sugar, basically) in the body for fast energy use later and for muscle building. What I don't think people account for though, is the intensity at which work needs to be done and typically for a short period of time for something to truly be High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). If you can do it for an hour straight, it's not HI, sorry. "But there are hills!" Right, and you're literally pedaling continuously for that hour which means your body is burning a higher proportion of fat to carbs. Yes, energy being used, No, not that much of it is from that sandwich and fries you ate after your last class or whatever. Again, not bashing on (Insert happy word relating to health/happiness/nirvana/life)-Cycle as it is important to make sure that you are at least active (don't get me started on why this particular one is freakishly bad for your long term health), but the thing is, HEALTH AND FITNESS IS 10X MORE THAN JUST EXERCISE and LIKE MAYBE 98.3X MORE IMPORTANT THAN A SINGLE WORKOUT A WEEK! It TRULY is a lifestyle! It's no surprise why our world is literally turning more and more into Wall-E everyday (also if you haven't seen Wall-E...seriously, stop reading this and watch it...after you subscribe). Heart related issues are becoming the norm and our response is, "Hey let's make these people with poor hearts go faster than their heart/body can handle, make them pay ridiculously large amounts per workout, BUT NOT teach them how to eat properly; or promote a healthy, movement-oriented lifestyle that gives us an opportunity to stop being so freaking connected to our phones".

Conclusion: Obviously, personal training (shocking I would promote that, I know) is high on the list of options that could ACTUALLY promote a lifestyle change - especially with a good trainer AHEM (haha). More importantly, GET CURIOUS! GET INTERESTED! GET MOTIVATED! Find what drives you and use it to challenge yourself! Set SMART goals that push you to change that lifestyle for the better. Some of my favorite subtle (okay some not so subtle) lifestyle changes include:

Decreasing Caffeine (oh man this one hits close to home) - at least make it as natural and wholesome as possible. I will tell you a little more about my Energy drink past and what pushed me to change that in another post...

Eating Whole Foods - man has shopping at Whole Foods all the time been the best investment in my body I've made. I just feel cleaner inside.

Canceling TV (yeah, I said it). There are plenty of ways to keep TV around (Netflix/HULU/etc.), but not having Cable to fallback on has been amazingly productive for myself

Taking walks for the hell of it or to the store - because the city around us is beautiful!

Trying a new diet regimen (not a FAD diet - oooooh rant post soon just on diet) for the fun of it - to change it up a little bit

Trying some new sports with a friend

Getting a book on cheese because it isn't a computer thing and because you can learn a lot about the world through its cheeses!

Drinking more water!!!

Getting off Soda completely - nothing...there is nothing in it for your poor body

Okay, I am tired now. I am proud of this first rant post. As I feel out the website a bit more they will get more extravagant, but for now you get business-oriented, positive stuff/ideas. 

Also, don't stop doing spin if that is your jig, just isn't for me...or our bodies...but yeah, keep up the moving at least! :)

 

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My First Post

Hello, hello!

I am proud to announce the beginning of my Lifestyle Changes (LiSty) blog!! I like to think that I am a very passionate trainer and I hope that I am able to supply anyone that sees my site or anyone that actually follows me with some thoughtful and interesting topics. I pride myself on supporting my training with scientifically backed approaches, so quality over quantity on this blog.

On a similar note, I open every post to discussion, because I think the best way to learn is to bounce ideas off one another and learn from the discussions. 

My next rant/writing post will be on motivation, but until then I will do what I can to get some interesting articles up as well :)

Until next time

A

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