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How do they do that?!

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Have you ever been watching someone accomplish something and you say or think, “How do they do that? There’s no way I could do that!”

I know I have!

When I am in those moments I begin to contemplate the number of hours it probably took to complete that task well. It is said that 10,000 hours of something is the expert mark. That is a HUGE commitment to something. That is 416 and 2/3 days of work or 1250 days of 8 hours every day- so for 3 and a half years straight, including weekends and holidays, you would practice 8 hours a day.

Like I said, HUGE commitment!

If you are an expert at anything or even really close to an expert at something, do you remember what it was like when you first tried that skill? Was it awkward and uncomfortable? Or did you feel like an expert out the gate?

My guess is that you were awkward and looked a little ridiculous trying. Yes? No?

For those who don’t know, I was a high-level bassoonist in a past life. I had a full scholarship to go to a music conservatory (of my choice) and chose to enlist as a Marine musician instead.

When I started playing an instrument in fourth grade, I was THE WORST clarinet player. Not just because I was in fourth grade, I was bad for a fourth grader. Something just didn’t click for me, and I don’t come from a long line of musicians (we are few and far between in my very large family).

I stuck out elementary school band and decided to play again in sixth grade when I moved up to junior high. I remember the first day of sixth grade band like it was yesterday. Mr. Hicksaw stood up in front of the students sitting at the cafeteria tables (because that was our band room), and told us about all the instruments we needed to fill out our more mature junior high band.

I took one look at the oboe (yes oboe), and thought “I can play that. It looks like a clarinet.” (Remember I could barely play the clarinet, but I was always up for a new adventure).

After he introduced the instruments, I went up and asked to play the oboe. Mr. Hicksaw only had one oboe and my more petite friend, Amy, wanted to play it too. Well, I was born 5’7” so he decided which of us would play which instrument based on my ability to carry the bassoon.

He said, “Amy, you can play the oboe. And L.J., you can play the big brother, the bassoon.” I said OK and he proceeded to show me how to put it together and teach me what the pieces were called.

In true L.J. fashion, I went home that night and told my mom I was playing a new instrument. When she asked what it was, I replied, “The bah? The bah-something, and it’s really big.”

The next day I went to class and couldn’t remember how to put it together.

I tell you that ridiculous story because I went from that in sixth grade to a paid musician by ninth grade and pretty much a pick of music conservatories (not Juliard, but still pretty good) by time I was in my senior year. The tremendous growth was based in opportunity, and that opportunity yielded more practice which helped me become an expert.

Had I given up on the bassoon when I didn’t remember how to put it together or didn’t show up for my first audition because I didn’t know how to play the audition piece (true story), I would have never had the opportunity to become an expert.

My bassoon expertise didn’t come over night. It took seven years, and when I “arrived” at that level, I needed to practice more to keep up with those around me and to continue to grow to another level.  My expertise brought me to an audition for the Marine Band and making the best decision of my life.

That decision is still a part of my life every day because that decision introduced me to my ex-husband, and we had an amazing son together. The Marine Corps taught me so much over the 19 years I experienced with the Marine Corps as a Marine, a spouse, and a civilian employee.

If it hadn’t been for being an expert bassoonist, the Marine Corps may have never found me, and my life would be incomplete.

I encourage you to try that thing when your brain says, “There’s no way I could do that!”, to try anyway. Maybe you’re right, you can’t do it. And honestly, you probably are right to start with, so just expect that. And maybe you don’t ever want to try again. But more likely, you can’t do it but you’re willing to try again until you find if you truly enjoy it.

In the studio, we have people tell us all the time “I don’t (fill in the blank).” What they are really saying is “I’m afraid to try (fill in the blank) because I may:

·         Look silly

·         Be bad at it

·         Not enjoy it

·         Find that it’s hard

·         Leave my comfort zone

Trust me, we ALL look silly from time to time. You should have seen me when I started yoga or golf…come to think of it, you can still see it when I play golf.

Trying something new will do more good than it can hurt your ego. Trying something new increases brain activity and introduces new neuropathways which makes you younger. Trying new things provides perspective and gives you an opportunity to focus in a way you never have before. If nothing else, trying something new gives you a good story to tell your friends over wine.

What is something you have been impressed with that you thought you could “never” do?

Go do that! Everyone starts somewhere….

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When to push...

Our last blog was all about the no pain, no gain mentality and how it can be physically and emotionally destructive. While pain is not an indicator of a good workout, there are times when it’s necessary to push yourself past comfortable limits to grow stronger, fitter and healthier.

I like to think of this concept as finding your training sweet spot or, as science would call it, the principal of progressive overload. This principal states that your workouts should be just a tiny bit more challenging than what you’re capable of so your body is forced to create adaptations (increase the size of muscle fibers, utilize fat for fuel, etc.).

Constantly overloading your system with high intensity exercise doesn’t allow sufficient time for these adaptations to occur. But never overloading your muscles and cardiovascular system doesn’t allow for the stimulus that produces these adaptations.

If this idea leaves you with a big question mark over when to push forward and when to pull back, welcome to the club.

Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules that apply to everyone as to how much, how hard or how often you should exercise to reap maximum benefits and avoid overtraining. Every body is different, with a different set of genes and experiences, and will respond to training differently. Beyond that, every person is different everyday.

I live in a world where I love things to be black or white. Healthy or unhealthy, beneficial or detrimental, good or bad. For years I tried to fit exercise into these categories, believing “intense exercise is best” and “light exercise and rest are a waste of time.”

Not only is that not true in a general sense (light exercise is awesome), it is different on any given day of the week. What works for my body today is not the same as yesterday. And it won’t be the same tomorrow, next week or next year.

While figuring out when to “go hard” and when to “go home” (or just ease back a little) is an individual learning process, there are a few easy tips that can help you find that sweet spot where you achieve maximum results and avoid overtraining.

Tips and Tricks:

  •  Intensity and duration are inversely related. High intensity exercise can be a great way to provoke physiological changes, but when done too much, it’s also a great way to overtrain. If the exercise you’re performing is of sufficiently high intensity, you actually can’t do it for a long time. So keep the high intensity stuff short but, you know… intense.
  • Follow hard days with easy days. To allow your body time to recover and reap the most benefit from highly intense or strenuous exercise sessions, follow with lighter days. Light is different from one person to another (I do not find a jog to be light exercise, but a highly trained runner would). Focus on exercise that leaves you feeling refreshed and energized, like yoga, walking, or gentle biking or running.
  • Keep it moving. Easy days are easy days, not off days. Finding some movement on the days that you don’t have strenuous workouts may help you recover and will help you stick to your exercise regimen.
  • Aim to honor and care for your body rather than fix it. When you care for someone, you want what’s best for them, regardless of whether it is what’s easiest. Sometimes what’s best is challenging and tough; sometimes it’s gentle and encouraging. If you approach your workouts from this perspective, you will be better able to understand what your body needs each day and better equipped to respond to those needs.

Learning when to push forward and when to pull back isn’t something that will happen overnight (Seriously, it’s taken me 5 years to come up with a reasonable sense of it). But it is a worthy endeavor in the pursuit of lifelong physical and mental health and happiness.

 

 

 

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Exercise to Fight Depression

By Kelsey Brown

It’s 6:00 am. Your alarm is blaring, beckoning you to begin your day. You roll over and hit the snooze button, unable to sleep but not yet ready to summon the strength to get out of bed. Your low back throbs and you hardly slept all night.     

You lie there, contemplating whether or not you should even get out of bed at all. You have a good job and a wonderful family and yet, you can’t figure out why you are so unhappy. So tired. So unsatisfied.

Depression is a debilitating disease affecting at least 6.7% of the U.S. population.

It is associated with low self-esteem, pervasive feelings of guilt and worthlessness and a loss of interest and pleasure. Depression, with its multiple contributing factors, can sneak up on you when your life is going horribly wrong or when it’s going perfectly well.

If you’ve ever experienced a bout of depression, you know how crushing the disease can be. It is as if your whole life, your every action, is being weighed down by a boulder that is built entirely of your own misery.  

Depression comes with other negative side effects such as physical pain, poor sleep, weight gain, social withdrawal and higher risks of substance abuse and chronic disease. Thus depression is cyclical and self-promoting; its symptoms serve to deepen the disease.  

So what does exercise have to do with this? We know that exercise is impactful in preventing and treating cardiovascular disease and Diabetes, but what can it do for depression?

As it turns out, quite a lot.

Research has found that individuals who report the lowest levels of activity have the highest levels of depression. Other research reveals that as societal levels of physical activity have decreased, rates of depression have gone up and multiple studies using exercise as a treatment for depression have shown promising results.

How Exercise Helps

There are a few key explanations for how exercise helps to prevent and reduce depression.

  • Exercise increases feel-good hormones called endorphins that may be low in people suffering from depression. This is the idea behind the famous “runners high.”

  • Exercise has been shown to boost self-esteem, something that is characteristically low in depression sufferers.

  • Exercise can improve sleep, which can help to break the cycle of depression.

  • Exercise can serve as a coping or distraction strategy.

  • Exercise can be a great way to allow for social interaction in individuals whose disease may limit this.

And the benefits of exercise exist independent of changes in fitness. That means you don’t have to lose 20 pounds or run a sub 7-minute mile to experience the mood-enhancing benefits.

However, there’s one little problem with this whole exercise to beat the blues idea...

When you’re depressed you don’t really want to get out of bed, let alone lace up your running shoes and hit the pavement.

How then, can you find ways to use exercise to help you overcome depression?

Practical Strategies for using Exercise to Beat Depression: 

  • Start small. Build exercise into your daily regimen slowly. 5-10 minutes at a time is a great starting point.  

  • Anything counts. You don’t have to run 5 miles or enroll at your nearest Cross Fit.  Any movement, be it walking, dancing, roller blading or even gardening will do. Focus on finding activities that you enjoy instead of forcing yourself to exercise in ways you think you should.

  • Frequency > intensity. Exercise that is comfortable and enjoyable is most likely to yield results. Low to moderate intensity exercise done daily is better than high intensity exercise done a few times a week (don’t discount walking – it has a ton of mental and physical health benefits)

  • Exercise with others. This is a great way to increase your social interaction and build feelings of camaraderie and support

  • Exercise the body and mind. Work mindfulness practices into your exercise sessions to reap maximum benefits. This can include deep breathing, and stretching. I love to finish my exercise sessions with a few minutes of deep breathing and checking in to see how my body feels.

  • Reflect. Exercise can be especially powerful in treating depression when you reflect on your experience and accomplishments after each exercise session. This can be done in your head or written down 

  • Combine with other forms of treatment. In many cases, exercise cannot act as a stand-alone treatment for depression. Consider combining exercise with CBT or antidepressant therapy. You can even look into alternative treatments such as vitamins and supplements or acupuncture.

There have been times in my own life where I struggled through periods of deep depression. Exercise was, and is, an integral part of my healing process.

Committing to taking action towards overcoming your pain can be a powerful strengthening process. Exercise is an excellent step that you can take today. It requires no money (beyond the cost of a pair of shoes) or resources and delivers immediate and cumulative benefits.  

If you’re struggling with depression, begin building small increments of exercise into your daily schedule (remember – walking counts!). This small habit, when repeated consistently, can have a profound effect on your happiness and quality of life.

 

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Spring Break = Spring Training

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Spring Break = Spring Training

Are you home with the kids this week? Does that stop you from getting to the gym? Then I hope you're ready for Spring Training? Athletes do it, why not you?! Can you complete this one week workout plan? I bet you can! It's challenging and it won't be easy, but it IS doable. Remember, you need to make this work for you- that means modify, increase what you can, decrease what you must, but DON'T - GIVE -UP! **Virtual high-five** 

Each day, spend 5-8 minutes warming up your muscles so you don't injury yourself. Then, it's GO TIME!

DAY 1: 

Sally Squats:
Play this song
Go up and down in the squat when instructed by the song
(Use weights and go deep if you can)
Rest 30s then repeat 3
INSERT STAPLES BUTTON HERE: "THAT WAS EASY" What's Day 2?

DAY 2:

50 Air squats
10 Burpees
40 Sit ups
10 Burpess
30 Walking lunges
10 Burpees 
20 Push ups
10 Burpees
10 Pull ups or Chair Dips
10 Burpees
20 Push ups
10 Burpees
30 Walking lunges
10 Burpees
40 Sit ups
10 Burpees
50 squats

I CAN DO THIS!

DAY 3:

Active Rest day. Today, spend about 30 minutes getting your heart rate up in a fun way.
Walk or Jog around neighborhood, Hike, Swim, Play a sport, Do something active!

I'M READY FOR DAY 4!

DAY 4:

Fight Gone Body
1 minute each, 3 rounds

Push ups
Squats
Burpees
Pull ups
Sit ups
Rest

Repeat 3Xs or more!

THAT'S ALL YA GOT, DAY 4?! 

DAY 5: 

Active Rest day. Today, spend about 30 minutes getting your heart rate up in a fun way.
Walk or Jog around neighborhood, Hike, Swim, Play a sport, Do something active!

DAY 6: 

Deck of Cards

Shuffle the deck, then flip over the top card to reveal your exercise based on the card number (Face cards are worth 10 reps, Aces are 11 reps)  and the suit using the key below:
Spades = Squats
Hearts = Burpees
Diamonds = Pushups
Clubs = Situps

8 of clubs would be 8x sit-ups, 6 of hearts 6x burpees, etc.

BRING IT ON DAY 7!

DAY 7:

In succession, no rest till the end.

25 Burpees
25 Plank Jacks
25 Mountain climbers
25 Crunches
25 Heel Touchers
25 V sit ups

Rest 30s
Repeat. How many rounds can you knock out in 25 minutes?

If you made it through this workout week, you're definitely ready for Health Defense Challenge! Make sure you check us out!

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Workouts provided by Andrew Beof


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What Causes You to Commit? The Value of an Accountability Partner

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What Causes You to Commit? The Value of an Accountability Partner

Chances are you know the formula for getting from Point A to Point B. Whether your goal is to lose 5 pounds or to get 8 hours of sleep per night or to learn how to do a handstand, you probably already know what it's going to take to get there. You can probably write it down:

Attend Health Defense class 3xs a week and replace afternoon cookies with fresh veggies. Walk for 30 minutes on other 4 days of the week.
 

Get into bed no later than 10 pm. Eliminate mindlessly watching TV after putting kids to bed.

If knowing how to accomplish something is so simple why aren't we checking new goals off our list every day? Well, knowing the formula is the easy part. It's committing to the change required for the formula; that's the tough part.

...Unless you have an Accountability Partner. Someone you know and trust, who understands and shares your goals and somehow who is going to hold you responsible for what you've said you would do. 

Think of it this way: you plan to go to Health Defense at 5:30 AM tomorrow. Your alarm goes off at 5 - it's cold out, your bed is warm, you're tired. You make endless excuses to yourself, turn off your alarm, and roll over. No biggie, right?  But what if you had an Accountability Partner? You texted each other last night and both of you committed to attend this morning's class. You may be hesitant to get up when your alarm goes off but there's no way you're missing class because you promised you would go. You don't want to let your friend down. 

Your Accountability Partner does not have to share every goal you have, but they should understand your goals and have similar ones. For example, your partner may not be looking to replace their afternoon cookies with fresh veggies. But if you are, they should be encouraging and check in with you to make sure you met your goal. Your partner should not be afraid to hold you accountable either. The idea is not for them to punish you if you don't meet every goal, but simply to help you in the most difficult element of getting where you want to be: committed. 

Find that person. Hold each other accountable. Commit. Succeed.

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Cathleen Lavelle
AFAA Certified Group Fitness Instructor

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