National Cancer Survivors Day 2019

Most of us have been touched by cancer in one way or another. It’s a horrific disease that steals from those it affects. There are several people in our family we have lost to cancer - may they rest in peace. Then there are two immediate family members who have beat the disease - my husband, Aaron, beat Testicular Cancer twice, and my mom, Linda, beat Lymphoma twice. They are both super-bada$$es in my opinion!

I don’t think I realized the impact my mom’s cancer had on me while it was going on. I believe I was only four years old when she was diagnosed and my little sister, Kelly, was only two. I do recall going to many doctor’s appointments with my mom - some of which I now know were her chemotherapy appointments. My mom was a stay-at-home-mom and we lived in Texas with no family close by, so she had no other choice but to take my sister and me with her.

I didn’t realize at the time that her loss of hair and her wigs stood for something much more than what my little four or five year old brain could fathom. I didn’t realize that this awful disease that was attacking her body could result in the loss of my mom.

I can remember the moment vividly when I finally realized just how blessed we were that my mom beat cancer. I believe that my dad, sister, and I were driving on a road trip across Ohio - most likely from Cambridge to Parma, or vice versa. We lived in New Jersey at the time, but it was summer and we were visiting family in Ohio. My dad had a little orange Honda Civic hatchback - I believe it was a 1976. It was hot and humid outside. The car had no air conditioning - the windows were rolled down and my sister and I were both trying to keep our very long hair from getting tangled. Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born in the USA’ and ‘Glory Days’ was blaring from the radio speakers. We stopped for gas and I don’t know what made me think of my mom and her cancer, but it was like all of a sudden I had a realization come over me. That realization was that she could have died. I don’t think that had really ever occurred to me before that moment. I also realized that not only could cancer have stolen my mom from us, but our lives would have been very different. It was at that moment that I realized just how blessed we were to have my mom still with us. Love you, Mom!

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It's Okay to Take Care of YOU!

Today is the perfect day to sit and breathe. Snow and ice have basically closed down our area, so here we go. Self-care is such an important part of our lives. We can try to ignore self-care and all that goes along with it, but that will come back to bite us in the tush in the long run. When we neglect self-care we may feel run down, anxious, depressed, sick, etc. 

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Look back over your previous week and ask yourself a few questions.

  • How do you feel? Do you feel like you were energized through the previous week or do you feel like you were dragging all week?

Based on your answer to the first question, now ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did you fuel properly? 

  • Did you get enough sleep?

  • Did you exercise?

  • Did you drink enough water?

  • Did you make time for YOU?

If your answer to the first question was that you were dragging all week, let's look a little closer at the areas where you may be able to tweak some things to improve how your week goes this week. 

Fuel- Throw out diet mentality and feed your body. Ensure you're getting an appropriate balance of macronutrients, in addition to calories, so that you don't feel like napping on your desk around 3 PM. Skipping meals will not help you lose weight in the long run. If you need help with this, please reach out to us. 

Sleep- An adult female should be getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night. If you're not doing this, and you answered that you were dragging all week above, something has to change. 

Exercise- I know it seems counterintuitive to exercise if you're tired, but I promise you, it helps! If you're short on time, shorter workouts can be beneficial as well. Something is always better than nothing. Need help? I'll share a 10-minute workout on our Facebook page tomorrow.

Hydration- Have you ever been dehydrated before? You felt awful, didn't you? Dehydration can cause a host of symptoms, including headaches, sleepiness, lack of energy, confusion, irritability, etc. If you aren't sure if you're drinking enough water or not, you probably aren't drinking enough. 

YOU time- Most of us don't make time for ourselves. We put everyone else's needs in front of our own. Schedule your "YOU" time like you do anything else. Stick to it. Even if you just escape to a quiet room for 10 minutes of silence - that counts! The dishes, laundry, etc will still be there later on. Delegate that to some of your family (team) members. 

Do you need to make any changes? Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to do this. Each person is going to have a different blueprint for what works for them. Feel good last week? What are some of the things you did that may have contributed to that? Those things should remain a part of your repertoire.

How can we help support you with prioritizing self-care? Let us know!

You are ENOUGH!

The other day at the studio there was a small group of women, myself included, talking about negative self-talk. We all admitted to doing it.

I asked if any of us would talk to someone else the same way we are talking to ourselves. Of course, we all said that we would never talk to anyone else like that. So why do we allow this behavior? Why are we so self-critical? Unfortunately we live in a society where being thin, tan, etc is a look that is perceived as how we "should" be.

Each and every one of us is unique (unless you have an identical twin). For example, it would be virtually impossible for me to have Jennifer Garner's arms - she's only got 2 arms and I'm fairly certain she doesn't want to part with either of them.

What if instead of wasting so much energy on trying to be someone we are not, we started to work towards liking who we are today? What does that look like for you?

Part of this process includes trying to stop the negative self-talk. If your inner critic is anything like mine, that isn't going to be an easy task. You know what? That's okay! Recognize that this will be an ongoing exercise, one that will get easier over time, as the more you interrupt and discredit your inner critic, the less power it has.

One of the women that was part of our conversation mentioned that her inner critic spoke up when she looked at herself in the mirror. Another woman said that hers spoke up when she saw a picture of herself on Facebook. Whatever the trigger is for your inner critic to try to run the show, you can often use the same methods to shut it down or ignore it as the very least.

Instead of getting pulled into that spiral of negativity, try to acknowledge the negative self-talk and try responding (out loud, if you want,) "Not today - I will not engage with you today!" If it helps to put a sign up on your mirror, dashboard, kitchen cabinet, desk, etc, do that! The sign can say something like the aforementioned or maybe a "Stop" sign that signals you to intervene and shut down the critic. The key is to find and use what will work for you.

The more we allow ourselves to get drug into the spiral of negativity, the worse we feel about ourselves. We may feel as if we did something wrong and that we now must be punished. My challenge to you is to talk to yourself the same way that you talk to a loved one. This takes a lot of practice and please understand that there is no right or wrong way to do this.

My wish for you is that you always remember that you are enough. #selfcare #positiveselftalk #YOUareworthy #YOUareimportant #YOUMATTER

Consistency

This...

If you want proof that strength training works...this is real life proof of results. Results aren't necessarily defined by numbers. Results are personal and can be defined by each individual. How do these women define results? By being able to do the things in life that make them happy. That's what I call success. 

When Back Pain Isn’t Caused By A Back Problem

Tight muscles can pull the spine out of alignment creating altered movement patterns. When you have altered movement patterns your body doesn’t move the way it was intended to. This can then create more issues. It’s a vicious cycle. 

So I'm Not Losing My Mind - Part 2

So I'm Not Losing My Mind - Part 2

The pieces of the puzzle were finally starting to come together. Things were making sense. After we talked for a while about Vocal Cord Dysfunction my ENT went to get a scope and then did a quick procedure right in his office to confirm the diagnosis. While it wasn’t fun having this tube run up my nose and down my throat, I about jumped for joy when he confirmed that I indeed have Vocal Cord Dysfunction. I know that sounds weird, but now that I knew what was causing the symptoms, I could take action. My ENT referred me to a speech pathologist to work on ways to treat the symptoms. 

So I'm Not Losing My Mind - Part 1

So I'm Not Losing My Mind - Part 1

The last few weeks have been quite eye-opening to me. I received a diagnosis that made so much sense, but seemed kind of silly at the same time. Why? Because surely one of the medical professionals I had seen over the past 10 years would have diagnosed this, right? Because reading about a condition on the internet, sitting there as your chin drops and your mouth is wide open because the blog post just described every symptom you have been experiencing, and then telling your doctor seems kind of nuts, right? Nope. This really happened. 

Vocal Cord Dysfunction. That’s the official diagnosis. Before I get deeper into what that means, let’s back up a little bit. 

Purpose

purpose

Do you exercise with purpose or are you just going through the motions? I know you’re probably thinking, "What do you mean? I do the work, that’s what counts, right?" Yes, it does count, and is certainly better than sitting on the couch, but there’s more. There’s connecting your brain to the muscle that is lifting the weight and then lowering it. Activating that muscle. Feeling the contraction of the muscle doing the work. Controlling the movement.

Muscle actions control the movement of the body. Without getting too technical I want to briefly touch on a few of the muscle actions. 

1. Eccentric - Occurs when a muscle develops tension while lengthening. The muscles lengthens because the contractile force is less than the resistive force. A great example of this is the 2nd part of a biceps curl or when the arms are lowering back to the starting position. Also known as deceleration or negative because work is being done on the muscle as opposed to the muscle dong the work. 

2. Isometric - Occurs when the contractile force is equal to the resistive force. Also known as a pause during a resistance training exercise between the lifting and the lowering phases. 

3. Concentric - Occurs when the contractile force is greater than the resistive force. Characterized by the shortening the muscle and visible joint movement. A great example of this is the first part of a biceps curl or during the lifting part of the exercise. 

Read below about how one of our clients applied this to her workout:

"Every time I go through a strength training session, I learn or realize something new.  (Or maybe - because I’m “old-ish” - I’m re-learning something.  That is entirely possible!)

When I was in the gym the other day, it dawned on me that I was kind of just going through the mechanics of the exercise instead of intentionally focusing on the muscle or muscle group that I was working on.  I felt like I was on “auto-drive”, which meant I wasn’t really putting in the effort that I should have been doing.  Once I realized that, I intentionally shifted my focus.  And I remembered what my trainer keeps reminding me when I work out with her:  it’s not only about the initial (concentric) movement part of the exercise;  it’s just as important to feel the resistance in the eccentric part of the exercise.  So when I’m doing biceps curls, if I focus only on the lifting but then just let the weights drop to my sides, I’m missing out on half of the benefits of that exercise.  Instead, I need to lower the weights slowly, feeling the resistance as I’m doing that.  So for the rest of my workout, I set my mind to focus on doing that - and it made a huge difference!  My arms and legs could really tell that I had worked out - and I hadn’t really increased any weights.  I just focused on both the concentric and eccentric movements, and that had a significant impact on how I felt about getting in a strong lifting session.

Hopefully I can sustain this focused approach during my upcoming sessions!" - L.S.


Knowing what we now know, think about how you have been lifting weights. Are you going through the motions or are you really focusing on the movement?

5 Tips to Break Up Your Work Day So Your Body Doesn't Hate You

Do you sit at a desk all day long for work? Do you drive for work? If so, you have probably experienced some of the aches and pains that go along with sitting for long periods of time. You know the ones I'm talking about...neck pain/stiffness, back pain/stiffness, stiffness all over. I don't know about you, but when I stand up after sitting for more than 30-45 minutes I feel like I need help stretching out my hip flexors and low back. 

So what can be done about this? Quitting our jobs isn't an option, so let's look at some ways to help ease the discomfort we experience when sitting for long periods of time. 

1. Set a timer/alarm on your phone to remind you to get up and move around. Recently I've started to use timers/alarms for all kinds of things because once I'm focused on something, everything else is out of mind. The length of time you choose is up to you and how your body responds to sitting. Some people may need to get up more frequently than others. If you have a "smart" device...FitBit, Garmin, Apple Watch, etc, many have alerts you can set to remind you to get up and move around at least once an hour. 

2. Learn some stretches you can do at your desk or in your office. Coworkers staring at you or making fun of you? Tell them to enjoy their stiff/achy muscles or join you. Check out these stretching videos, as many can be done at your desk. Again, use the timer on your phone if you need a reminder. Siri and Alexa are just waiting for you to ask them to do something. 

3. Take your breaks and lunch breaks. I know, I know, we are all busy, but if you don't take care of yourself now, you may end up missing more work down the road. Move around during these breaks. Go for a walk with a friend/coworker. Get others involved in moving more...perhaps a contest/challenge at work?

4. Walk to talk to coworkers instead of using email, messaging, or calling them. Take the long way to their desk/office. 

5. Drink lots of water. Not only will this keep you hydrated, but you will have to get up to fill your water bottle and also to use the restroom. 

BONUS TIP: If you drive for work, you can apply most of these to your day as well. 

Do you have any tips to add? 

Top 12 Fitness Tips for Women Over 40

1. Find something that works for YOU. There is something out there for everybody and it may not be the first (or the second, third, or even fourth) thing you try. Don't give up - your health is important. Don't settle - if you don't enjoy the workout, the chances that you will continue to do it are slim. 

2. Find a trainer that works with women over 40. Women over 40 have different fitness needs than a 25-year old woman. Consider this an investment in your health. 

3. Weight training can protect bones and help prevent loss of bone density.

4. You are never too old to start. If you've never lifted a weight in your life, that's okay. Everyone has to start somewhere. Refer to #2 on this list. 

5. Fuel your body properly. Don't skip meals. Eat before your workout so you have the energy to exercise. Eat within 30-60 minutes after your workout to refuel and help build those muscles. 

6. Hydrate properly. This may seem like a no-brainer, but there are plenty of women that aren't hydrating properly. Keep a bottle fo water with you all day and sip on it often. Water intake requirements vary from person to person. The easiest way to remember how much you need is this: 8 cups of 8 ounces of water. 

7. Wear proper footwear for exercise. If you are unsure what this means, visit your local running/walking shoe store. The employees at these stores are trained to evaluate your gait and put you in the shoe that will best support your body while you are exercising. This is key to help make sure your body is in proper alignment and to help avoid a potential injury.

8. Get your cardio in! The current recommendation from the American Heart Association is 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity 5 days/week. 

9. Monitor your heart rate while exercising, especially during cardiovascular exercise. This is important to help make sure you are working hard enough (in the right zone) to get the benefit of cardio exercise, but not too hard. If you are interested in learning more about this, email me.

10. Get a workout buddy. Make a "date" to exercise just like you would for any other activity. Sign up for shared personal training, take a spinning class, or hike at one of the local metro parks. You are less likely to skip a workout when someone else is depending on you. 

11. Include your doctor in your fitness plans. Make sure you are cleared for exercise. Don't hesitate to reach out if something hurts. Some aches are normal during and after working out, but ongoing or sharp pain is not normal. It is much better to be safe than sorry. 

12.  Don't let past injuries or chronic conditions hold you back. We work with clients of all fitness levels. Some of these women have autoimmune diseases, knee/hip replacements, and fibromyalgia. Many of these conditions can be improved by exercising regularly.