Serial Trainer

{June 1, 2012}   INSANITY Week One

Hello again, everyone!

I’m blogging so I guess this means I survived week one of INSANITY workout!

I have to tell you, it wasn’t easy by any means. This workout is as intense as it says on the infomercial. I wanted something to kick my butt back into status quo and believe me; it did. Quick, fast, and in a hurry. Since I had taken a month hiatus from working out, and my workouts were pretty mellow and easy going previous to me beginning, I’d like to share with you my experience with the first week. Many of you will be ordering this and haven’t worked out in years. That’s good and bad.

Here’s my advice: Stock up on Ibuprofen and ice packs.

I’m not by any means an athlete just because I train. If you’re not, liken this workout to the severity of Boot Camp. You will get a wake up call. The trick is this; do not stop trying every day and do not give up. It will be tempting to shut off the DVD, quietly stuff it back in its sleeve, then tuck it in a drawer so no one will know you started; but most importantly no one will know you couldn’t finish.

Tell someone. Yep. I said it. I challenge you to do it. Tell your friends and family you are doing it, and the day you started it. Hold yourself accountable. Trust me. I guarantee that if you do this it will be that much harder to give up because they will be curious as to a few things. Does it really work? Are you going to get results? Can you do it? If so, can they?

My first three days were the worst. Hands down. I’d like to take you through my second and third day, not to scare you, but to be realistic with you. Be forewarned it isn’t pretty.

Day One: Having the naivete of a doe timidly testing the new fallen snow, I opened up my DVD and placed the first disk inside. I was run over by a truck. I have no recollection of what happened after that.

Day Two: I woke up and had to do what every normal human being has to do at 7 AM. I had to use the restroom. I pop my head up, go to step out of bed and realize I’ve now turned into a newborn giraffe who has no idea where their footing is or how to balance on them. My calves have locked up and my hamstrings don’t want to fully extend. I’m now wide awake and stumbling to the bathroom before I soil myself. Note to self: Take ibuprofen.

Day Three: I thought I was past day two. Do I have Mad Cow disease? I can barely move my legs. Even after all that pain yesterday, I continued to do the workout AND STRETCH even more than required. Working out the muscles seemed to help and I felt the holocaust was over. I was wrong. Note to self: Stretch even more. Take more ibuprofen.

Day Four: I made it through the worst. I can now walk somewhat normal. If I walk slowly and don’t sit for too long and allow muscles to get stiff. Still clinging to ibuprofen bottle.

I hope that this sends a clear message to you. Be Prepared to work for the results you want. Be ready for blood, sweat and tears. But I promise you it is worth it.

I won’t add pics yet because I want to follow the regiment that was given. I will take them at the two week mark. However, I’ve lost 4lbs and my size 6 clothing is finally a little loose instead of snug. I’m VERY pleased with the visual results. I feel amazing and my glutes feel amazing 😉 I can already feel the lift and tightening! Today is going to be rough again. I begin the Cardio Power and Resistance Day.

I think I have a bedpan somewhere.


{December 31, 2010}   A New Year, A New You!

Everyone does it. The New Year’s resolution. “I will get into shape” or “I will lose xxlbs”. It’s easy to get a good start and lose momentum. So how do you keep it going for 12 months?

1. Keep your goals realistic.
Take a big goal and break it down to smaller parts. My recommendation is to break it into 4 parts. That gives you 3 month increments to work with. It keeps you motivated and gives you time to correct slip ups. A safe weight loss is 2lbs per week. So if your goal is to lose 75lbs in 2 months…it might be a good idea to re-evalutate that goal. Besides, the smaller the goal, the easier it is to attain. And if you exceed the goal, it makes you even happier, right?

2. Keep it fresh and fun!
No one said fitness had to be boring. Finding something that keeps you healthy and that you enjoy doing is the key element to sticking with the program. Martial arts, Golf, Aerobics, Biking, Hiking, Tennis..nearly anything can be a good workout if you apply yourself.

3. Get a buddy.
Working out with a buddy is tricky and let me give you some crucial advice about this. It’s one thing to want to have someone to talk to while you workout however, your buddy should be chosen by the following criteria if you’re serious about meeting your goal.

a. Have the same goals in mind.
b. Have the same or nearly the same fitness level.
c. Zero tolerance for excuses. — I usually give my workout buddy “excuse coupons”. They get ONE per MONTH. If you don’t “feel like working out today” or have habitual excuses (that same grandma that passed three times) then you either need to find a new workout buddy or they buy lunch..or do extra crunches!! Now, if they are genuinely sick, that’s not an excuse, that’s a good reason..don’t hold that against them.

4. Be human.
Know that people make mistakes. If you slip up or if you quit for a little bit..dust yourself off and get on track again. Muscle recovery is a wonderful thing. It won’t take long for your body to get back to where it was.

So this New Year, be good to yourself. You deserve it more than anyone! 🙂

Warmest Regards from the Serial Trainer….SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!

{August 19, 2008}   Reduce Risk for Stroke


August 15, 2008 – A new analysis combining the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS) and the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) confirms that in addition to preventing chronic diseases such as diabetes and coronary heart disease, an overall healthy lifestyle is associated with a significantly decreased risk for stroke.

The reduction in stroke risk was driven by a reduction in ischemic rather than hemorrhagic stroke. A healthy lifestyle combining not smoking, a healthy weight, a healthful diet including moderate alcohol consumption, and daily exercise reduced ischemic strokes by approximately half in both men and women.


Just another reason to do something for yourself. Working out and eating healthy is the only thing *not* causing cancer these days. It’s consistently showing good. I think there’ve been enough studies to safely say you can do it and it’s FDA approved.

Taking away your excuses, one day at a time.



{August 15, 2008}   Carbohydrates: Friend or Foe?

There is much speculation as to whether Carbohydrates are friend, or foe. Depending on whether you’re healthy or have special dietary needs, this can be a very confusing battle. A lot of fad diets have you cutting carbs and this leads many of you to believe that the more you cut out carbs the better. So let’s take a look at it.

Truth: You need carbohydrates. When you cut carbohydrates out of your diet, you see you lose weight. Fast, in most cases. I challenge you to take a look at what your original diet looked like.  Were you eating a lot of bread and processed foods? Were you eating a lot of pasta? Eating out, maybe?

If this sounds like you, then yes, when you cut the “carbs” out of your diet, you see an instant result. Why is this? Because you had an over-abundance of them in the first place! Let’s take a look at why we need carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates come in two forms. Starches and Sugars. The “Sugars” are called simple because your body can make them. These come in things like candy, honey, sugar, soda. The “Starches” are called complex. These carbs take longer to digest and may be called “slow burning carbs”. They come in things like bread, noodles, rice and even vegetables.

So what’s the deal? Why do we need to include them in our diet? Because they give us energy. Simple sugars are small bursts of energy and should only be consumed if you’re planning on using them right away. Think of it as the “sprinter” of the two. The problem with simple sugars (especially for diabetics) is that there’s a sharp raise in your blood sugar and then the body must regulate it.

The slow burning carbs should be used to fuel you throughout your day. They’re the “long distance runner”.  They also help to keep you satisfied until your next meal. A bowl of oatmeal is an excellent start to any day and includes a lot more benefits than just giving you fuel. These can also be dangerous to a diabetic and a certified diabetic nutrionist should be used to teach you which amount of carbohydrates are best for you.

When you consume carbohydrates, your body turns them into gluclose. Glucose is necessary to move your body and to function properly. When you don’t eat, you get tired easily and you find it hard to concentrate. This is because it’s running out of its fuel.

The other issue is that your body can only use so much glucose at one time. So if there’s glucose that you can’t use immediately, your body will store it. Let that sink in. You eat a huge plate of pasta and then sit down for the rest of the night watching television. Your body is storing it. Where? In your liver and muscles and it’s then converted to glycogen.

Now, your body has an abundance of this glycogen stuff. It’s like buying too much food and it doesn’t fit in your refridgerator. So your body has to do something with it. Ah yes! The “extra” fridge in the garage!  FAT! Now you know where you got that junk in the trunk from!

Complex carbohydrates have another thing going for them. Your body takes longer to digest them so that means you’re burning more calories in the digestion process. They also, most times, have more vitamins and minerals in them.

The question you’re probably asking yourself is, “how many carbs should I consume a day?”

It can range from 40-75% of your daily caloric intake. Atheletes will need more than someone who does not workout as much. If you’re a couch potato, lay off large amounts of carbs or you will start to see yourself expanding. If you’re an athelete, be sure you’re getting the proper amounts of carbohydrates to fuel your activity level.

I hope that this post shed some light on your confusion. If you have any questions, post them and I’ll do my best to answer!

I love to listen to music while I workout. And depending on what kind of workout I want, I have different music. For a grueling, heavy lifting day, I like Metallica, Nickelback, Puddle of Mudd, Disturbed. For a long run I like to listen to some techno; Robert Miles, Paul Oakenfold, ATB, etc. And for stretching I’ll listen to a confused mess of music styles like Dave Mathews Band, Madonna, Lifehouse, Justin Timberlake. There’s no telling what will be on it.

So tell me. What’s on your playlist?

Current Playlist: (mind you this changes not only in genre but by my moods, daily, ha!)
— 4 Minutes: Madonna
— Piece of Me: Britney Spears
— My Love: Justin Timberlake
— Clubbed to Death: Matrix Soundtrack
— Rollercoaster of Love: Red Hot Chilli Peppers
— Work It: Missy Elliot
— Get Ur Freak On: Missy Elliot
— All Night (Don’t Stop): Janet Jackson
— Doncha: Pussycat Dolls
— 2 Step: Clara
— Here With Me: Alyson

{August 12, 2008}   Question re: Butterfinger

My friend “M” is hysterical. She just sent me an email that asked:

Do Butterfinger’s have any addictive substances (in addition to the chocolate and sugar)? And how do I talk myself out of having one a day?

My answer was:  The cure: Have one of these 😀

haha! enjoy!

{August 10, 2008}   Vitamin Water

I admit I fell victim, too. I love the vitamin water and sometimes it’s just the right pick me up on a hard day. I would still say that if you are feeling dehydrated or need a pep, a vitamin water is much better than an energy drink. I found this on the APEX site and thought it was a great question which they answered. What do you guys think?

Q: What do you think about vitamin water? Is the vitamin really going to be able to absorb into the body. Is this just another advertising gimmick or is there some truth to what they are promoting?

A: (excerpt, read the whole post here) Whatever VM are still in the fluid when you purchase the product will probably be absorbed, but the problem with liquid is that some VM may not remain in their natural state while in a fluid medium, and even if they do you wouldn’t want them to enter the body all at once, which of course would happen if you delivered the VM in this manner. There is a reason most VM and drugs are delivered in pill form: 1) the active ingredients remain stable, 2) they can survive the path through stomach acid, which can alter or destroy some substances, 3) the VM contained in a proper pill form can be released over time as the body needs them. Releasing them into the body all at once (as from liquid or other cheap formulas) would be more than the body can use at one time, forcing the body to discard what it can’t use, leaving you without a steady stream of nutrients throughout the day.

The thing I love most about APEX is their willing disclosure. If you call them or email them, they will tell you exactly what is in their products and answer any questions you have about it. They pride themselves on potency and purity, whatever they tell you is in the bottle, is exactly what’s in the bottle. Their products are manufactured by a Pharmaceutical Company which goes through a strict regulation of their products.

So there you have it, that’s why I hype the products so much. I want to know that there is consistency in what I’m putting in my body. If you remember the ephedra scare, people were getting high doses in one pill and low in another, you never knew if what you were taken was 5mg or 10mg and that could lead to a bunch of other (really bad) things.

EDIT: One more thing I wanted to point out that I forgot to add. APEX also goes through the Pharmaceutical company so that they deliver the products to you in the best way. You see in their answer talk about active ingredients remaining stable? The Pharmaceutical Company will do testing to find out how to best deliver the supplement to your system, whether it’s in liquid form, pill form, powder, etc.

{August 10, 2008}   Protein: What’s It All About?

Protein Shakes, Protein Supplements, Protein Diets. We hear the word every day but do we really know anything about it?

What is Protein?
Protein is vital to life. That’s the first thing you need to know. Protein is found in your hair, your eyes, skin, muscles, blood, etc. It is second to water as being the most plentiful substance in your body.

Protein can be put together by our body, which I like to refer to as machines (yeah, I did watch a lot of Transformers as a child). Did you know there are about eight types of protein that we cannot produce? That means we must get them from the food we eat. It is harder to gain those essential amino acids from plant life and so the easiest and fastest way to getting them is through animal protein.

Before anyone starts finding out where I am and throwing buckets of blood on me — stop, breathe, and take the CARRIE DVD out of your player. I’m not encouraging anyone to eat meat, that’s a personal issue. I’m just stating the facts here. You can get protein from plants but it’s harder. It’s found more abundantly in animal protein and it is also a little harder to digest plant protein.

So how much protein do you need a day? Well that’s a great question! The answer is that it varies. Take into account a person’s sex and age and refer to the chart below.

[ the chart was borrowed, forgive me I lost my source! you can click on the image to enlarge it]

* Teenage boys and active men can get all the protein they need from three daily servingsfor a total of seven ounces.
* For children age 2 to 6, most women, and some older people, the government recommends two daily servings for a total of five ounces.
* For older children, teen girls, active women, and most men, the guidelines give the nod to two daily servings for a total of six ounces.

Studies have shown that we take in much more protein than we need, which leads to what? Say it with me! More calories.

Benefits of Protein:

* protein aids in the repair and recovery from workouts
* protein strengthens your immune system
* protein increases your lean muscle mass
* protein aids in satiety
* protein make antibodies and hemoglobin (delivers oxygen to blood cells)

Those of you that are participating in a high protein diet or thinking about it should know that there are serious side affects. Please do not attempt any diet unless you’ve consulted with your doctor. Diets high in protein produce rapid weight loss by stimulating the loss of fluids from the body. That sounds great to people desperate to lose weight but this can be extremely detrimental to your health.

{August 8, 2008}   Self Myofascial Release

It sounds scary, so what the heck is it?

From the National Association of Sports Medicine (NASM): Self myofascial release is another stretching technique that focuses on the neural system and fascial system in the body (or, the fibrous tissue that surrounds or separates the muscle tissue). By applying gentle pressure to an adhesion or “knot”, the elastic muscle fibers are altered from a bundled position into a straighter alignment with the direction of the muscle or fascia.

It’s crucial to note that when a person is using self myofascial release he or she must find a tender spot and sustain pressure on that spot for a minimum of 20-30 seconds. This will increase the Golgi tendon organ activity and decrease muscle spindle activity, thus the autogenic inhibition response.

To do these stretches you will need a foam roller, which I affectionately call, “Foamy”. You will learn to hate and love Foamy all at once. The biggest hurdle I faced in getting clients to use Foamy is that it hurts. I’m not going to sugar coat it for you. It’s uncomfortable and some of the trigger points actually hurt.

The more it hurts, the longer it takes you to relax and (you ready for this ladies?) breathe. Oh the fondness of watching a man pant and sweat it out through TFL/IT band stretch. This is as close as you’ll ever get to labor, gentleman. Just remember to breathe honey, you’re doing great! (wink, wink)

Benefits of Self Myofascial Release

  • corrects muscle imbalances
  • joint range of motion
  • relieves muscle soreness, joint stress
  • neuromuscular hypertonicity
  • extensibility of musculotendinous junction
  • neuromuscular efficiency
  • maintain normal functional muscle length

These are all big words. I’m sure some of you gave up with the first multi-syllabic term from a strained tongue. Basically, what this all means, is that you are giving yourself a massage and stretching out the muscles. You’re kneading out the knots that form in the muscle, which is like rolling out cookie dough. You want it nice and flat and smooth. There’s something else you must know, too. Those little knots and bundles let toxins build up inside them. For that reason, it’s very important to drink an extra amount of water to flush out your system.

The good news is, that those of you who secretly wish to run your trainer over with a bulldozer can now smile and know that these stretches are just as painful for us as it is for you! Sometimes it’s even worse!

Alright, alright, stop with the party favors and back to seriousness. As you can see, it is very important to implement these exercises into your daily regimen. You can find foam rollers on the web, easily. They are inexpensive and come in many sizes.

You can also use a tennis ball for those hard to reach spots or if you have mobility issues. I’ve included a link below so that you can see each exercise and how it’s performed but I would strongly suggest seeing a trainer (after getting Doctor approval, right!?) for a fitness/postural assessment. He/She can walk you through these and inform you of which ones are more beneficial to you. Happy Foam Rolling!

Self Myofascial Release Exercises

When you go to a trainer for a fitness assessment, it’s more than just telling you what you probably already know. You’re out of shape. The truth of the matter, is that we all have something wrong with us that needs “fixing”. Even your trainer.

That ballerina who looks so elegant and fit and graceful? She has postural deviations, too. No one is exempt. The reason why this is happening is because of lifestyles and environments. Take this moment to stand up and look in the mirror while in a relaxed natural state. Look forward, then turn to the side. Compare it to the following picture:

[Click on the picture for a larger view]

I would guess that 99% of you have one of the postures to the right of the first one. I used to have fun with my clients and “guess” what kind of lifestyle or job they had before they told me. It was amusing to see their eyes widen as if I had read their palm, in surprise.

I could say things like, “you sit at a desk all day” or especially for females, “during your squat assessment, I could see that you leaned more to the left to take the load off the right hip. so you probably carried your baby in the left arm and used that hip, right?” and my clients would always laugh at how accurate I could get. The “baby hip” is the one that gets them all the time. We stand in such funky positions as mothers!

The problem with that is we are adapting to our lifestyles. I’m hearing “oh’s” and “ah’s” as the realization sinks in. Your body is slowly molding to what you do, every day. If you sit at the computer, how do I know? Your chin probably juts forward, you may have tension headaches, shoulders are rolled forward, etc.

It’s really not an attractive look, am I right? Can you hear your mother’s voice in your head saying, “don’t slouch”? This is why working and using your core is so very important. Want to get rid of chronic lower back pain? Stick with me and don’t wander off. It may be a less expensive cure than a new bed and/or chiropractor.

Benefits of working the core:

  • relieving lower back pain
  • preventing injury
  • improving posture
  • improving function of vital organs
  • improves balance and footing (think senior years, definitely)
  • improves breathing

I could go on but I think that’s a pretty healthy list, don’t you? Let’s look at a few of those and explain them, shall we?

Preventing lower back pain. You’re in a sitting position all day. Hip flexors are contracted (tight) for about 7+ hours a day. You may be overweight and carry most of that extra weight in your abdomen so your pelvis dips forward. You go home and sit down for dinner, then sit down and maybe catch up on email/work, then sit down and watch some television, then go to bed. You wake up and your back is throbbing sore but your doctor says you’re otherwise healthy.

The culprit in this scenario for my first guess would be a postural deviation. You’re asleep and relaxed all night, your muscles finally loosen and wow. Imagine holding a dumbbell in your arm, contracted, for the entire day. Do you think your bicep would be screaming and sore by the time you put it down at the end of the day? How about the next day? Your back takes a lot of abuse.

Now let’s go on to improved breathing. If you’re hunched over all day, how on earth do you think you’re getting full, productive breaths? Answer: You’re not. If you work your core and you have good posture, you are sitting taller, organs are in alignment, shoulders are pulled back and head is sitting level over your shoulders and ..wait.. what’s that? You can breathe!

Do you know what this also prevents? Tension headaches. We stare at computers all day long so it may not be a “cure all” but it will certainly help. To better understand what I’m saying, let’s break it down. Your head, alone, weighs 8lbs. So your shoulders, chest and back muscles have to balance this head-ball all day. Now, take the head-ball and move it forward slightly. What’s straining to pull that head back up? That’s right! Your neck muscles. Only now, it’s not 8lbs, because gravity is working against you. All those tiny little neck muscles are straining to hold 10-16 lbs, maybe? Owch.

The breathing leads directly into the vital organ point. If your muscles, blood and organs don’t get oxygen, they’re suffocating. I think that’s pretty blunt and direct. Do you need anymore explanations? I hope not. When things suffocate, they die. So you’re essentially slowly killing –or depleting– your organs, faster.

So what does all this have to do with preventing injury? Muscle over-compensation.

What the heck does that mean?

You’re body is this incredible machine. Think of it as a car. We get into it and love it for a bit, then a few years down the road, we have kids and they spill drinks on it, drop food in it, leave garbage in it…oh, sorry I got off on a tangent!

I digress. This machine we call the human body, is so intelligent that it can adapt to nearly anything you put it through. So if your day to day life is to sit, hunched over a keyboard all day. Your body will adapt your muscles and skeleton to that position. Isn’t that great!?

What? Oh, that’s right. It looks ugly and you are sore and feel like crap every day. In a nutshell here is what muscle compensation does that isn’t so wonderful:

You stand up too quickly and feel a twinge. You pulled your back out again.

You are playing in the backyard with the kids/pets and as you run you feel that pinch in the back of your leg where you just pulled a hamstring.

Imagine trying to walk down those steep stairs and your ankle or knee becomes too weak to support your weight. It gives out and you fall. You couldn’t re-balance yourself to steady your fall.

You want that big, sexy chest you see in all the Muscle & Fitness mags. You do chest presses so often your buddy’s call you Joey “The Bench Press” Kawalski. But the only pose you can do is the “front-abdominal-thigh-isolation” and the “Hulk Hogan“.

It’s scary isn’t it? I can hear a lot of you checking the web right now for how strengthen your core. And that’s great! You’ll be looking and feeling better because of it. As always I’ll preach it until I’m down to the bone in my fingers: Get your doctor’s approval before beginning any workout. Then, get with a trainer. Most fitness assessments are free, if not, get a new gym! Find out what a trainer sees that you can’t. Their eyes are trained to catch a lot more than we can but they can also tell you what stretches and exercises can fix it. They have a chart that they use while you perform certain exercises to see where your problem areas are and what potential danger could arise from not only day to day activities, but in the gym as well.

It goes deeper than just your core. It goes down into your calves, up into your neck and there are small, preventatives that you can implement to erase bad habits. In the next post, I’ll go over self-myofascial release. It’s not as scary as it sounds, but it all ties in.

So stop slouching! And get to work that core!

I’ll leave you with some stretches, from the Mayo Clinic, that you can do at the office right now to alleviate some discomfort.

et cetera