Friday, June 24, 2016

Workout Recovery and Foam Rolling

Recovery activities like stretching, foam rolling and even total rest days may feel like the throwaway stuff to make room for more pressing matters. But they're a crucial part of the performance equation. If you exercise hard and you don't allow yourself to recover, you are wasting your time.

Here's why: After a sweat session, your body is in shock - muscles are torn, fuel stores are depleted, and your immune function is zapped. Your body begins to mend muscles and replenish glycogen. Recovered muscles allow you to run faster, or lift more than you could before. But if you don't repair your body, you'll go right back to that initial alarm phase - and never get to the good stuff. Space tough workouts by at least 48 hours. Resting helps you achieve optimal strength, power and speed.

Foam rolling is the reboot tool of choice for physical therapists and personal trainers. Research has shown that foam rolling reduces muscle soreness and leads to better performance in the next workout. Foam rollers are used to help iron out fascia, the collagen-packed connective tissue that stretches over and through your muscles. Fascia can tighten with repeated stress and limit muscles' ability to move. Interestingly, the system is connected throughout, so you can roll out the fascia in your foot and have increased range of motion in your hamstrings.

Combining foam rolling and static stretching will help you recover more quickly, decrease muscles soreness and expose your joints and muscles to a full range of motion. Foam rolling works because the friction it produces raises muscle temperature and softens the fascia. Static stretching can put your joints in positions that foam rolling will not, so it's still important.

For more focused self-massage, you can use a small ball. This allows you to get into a specific area that needs extra work and can access hard-to-reach spots, especially the soles of your feet. Yoga Tune Up balls are a great option to a lacrosse ball or a tennis ball. 

Foam rolling and self-massage is best taught in person. In lieu of that, check out these videos to get you started: Experience L!fe Magazine on Foam Rolling   and   Yoga Tune Up® Self Massage Therapy

Stay Active, Keep Moving and 
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, June 17, 2016

Hot New Workout Trend: Recovery

Recovery is the hottest thing in fitness. Edgy gym chains all over the US are dedicating classes, and even full studios, to all the things you do when you are not pushing through a hard workout.

Being smarter about recovery can help you become faster, leaner, stronger and fitter. During recovery your body resets itself: hormone levels re-balance, inflammation goes down, liver and muscles stock up on fuel, cells rid themselves of lactic acid and other waste products, and muscles and connective tissues lay down collagen and patch up tears. Many professionals spend up to half their total training hours on recovery to fully net the benefits of all their hard work.

Smart recovery really works. One runner had so many nagging injuries that she could not make it through a session. When she implemented recovery strategies, she not only felt better, she shaved almost 30 seconds per mile off her Personal Record (PR) in a five mile race.

It's important to limit intense workouts to three days a week. Plan your routine carefully so you're not challenging the same muscles in the same way consecutive days. Overdoing creates hormonal havoc, endocrine burnout and sets your body up for injury.

Try these top techniques to maximize your workout, recover faster and see the results in power and a sculpted body.

Rollers help increase circulation and relax knotted tissues. Stretching returns muscles to their normal resting length and helps line up new collagen fibers that your body creates during recovery. Roll before stretching because the pressure helps turn off overactive muscles so you can stretch them more easily.

Ice for 10 minutes after a tough workout. This slows blood flow to the area, reducing inflammation and swelling. The next day, to combat stiffness and spasms, use heat. The warmth speeds blood flow to the area, relaxing muscles. 

Muscles are primed to take in protein for 30 - 60 minutes after your workout. Proteins will start the repair process and carbs will refuel your glycogen. Your snack should contain 10 - 20 grams of protein and a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio of protein to carbs. Re-hydrate as well. Drink 16 - 32 oz of water during the post-workout window.

Lack of sleep leads to fatigue, depressed immunity and higher stress hormones all of which contribute to a less-than-stellar workout. Aim for 7 - 9 hours of sleep each night. On your rest days, keep moving. A little activity will help flush out any remaining lactic acid and keep your muscles loose. Stretch, ride a bike for 15 minutes or do yoga.


Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food


Friday, June 10, 2016

Team Motivation

It's been proven that people imitate the behaviors of the groups they spend time with. What a great idea to spend time with people who model healthy lifestyles! Walking or exercising with a group or a partner increases consistency and enjoyment of the activity.

I blogged about my Saturday morning walking group in February of 2014 and I want to mention it again to update my newer readers. Smilers is a free Burbank community-based walking group. We Smile through the Miles! We walk between 5 - 11 miles each Saturday morning. We meet at a different local location each week at 6:30am. The walks vary from flat sidewalks to canyons to street inclines. Members often stay after the walk for coffee and conversation. Occasionally, the group will train for a half-marathon together and walk the longer mileage. The average pace is a 15 minute mile. It is "power walk" speed.

It is so enjoyable to walk and talk! I don't have to use music to keep my pace, I just keep up with the walker next to me. When else do you get the chance to have a good, long conversation without interruptions? The miles fly by when you are talking with a friend.

If you are interested in participating, contact me at and I will get you the information you need. If you are not in the Burbank area, seek out acquaintances at the gym, in your workplace or in your neighborhood to team up with and walk regularly. The accountability of meeting someone will keep you consistent and motivated to maintain your workout schedule.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, June 3, 2016

Two More Food Habits That Age You

Nutrition, not age, determines the body's internal chemistry, affecting the quality and resilience of virtually every organ, cell, and system in the body. The condition of your skin, and quality of your bones, brain and connective tissue are all influenced by your diet. Your eating habits play a big role in determining how quickly you see and feel the effects of aging. Here are two more habits to avoid.

A weakness for convenience foods
Partially hydrogenated oils, a source of trans fats, take their aging toll by promoting inflammation. Chronic inflammation ages the body by shortening the telomeres - the caps at the ends of your chromosomes that are key to protecting your genes. Prematurely shortened telomeres are linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. A legal loophole allows foods with trans fats to be labeled as "trans fat free". Restaurant food and take-out fare can also contain these damaging fats.

THE FIX - Eat fewer processed foods. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store where produce and fresh foods are displayed. A diet high in phytonutrients and antioxidants is linked to longer telomeres, so eat plenty of leafy greens, berries, cruciferous vegetables and drink green tea.

Eating when you are stressed
The release of adrenaline and cortisol - fight-or-flight chemicals - diverts blood to your limbs and away from your stomach. Food may ferment in your intestines, upsetting the balance of good and bad bacteria. Stressed eating may lead to distracted eating. You may eat more than you intended or eat foods you wouldn't have chosen under better circumstances. Eating on-the-go can contribute to both the release of stress hormones and distracted eating.

THE FIX - If you are stressed, drink a glass of water and go for a five-minute walk. Whenever possible, eat in places where you can feel calm and happy. Sit at a table to eat. Use plates and utensils - don't eat out of the Styrofoam box. Your body will be able to break down and absorb key nutrients more efficiently. 

Stay Active, Keep Moving and 
Enjoy Your Food