Tag Archives: summer

Exercise burnout: what is it, and how can it be avoided?

15 Aug

Exercise burnout is a term I hear all the time amongst colleagues and clients.  I hear stories of folks who have been going to the gym; doing their routine day in and day out, over and over, and are getting quite sick and tired of it.  The workout that once brought them relief from the stress of a long day now is a looming monster.  It serves as another obstacle and another stress bomb to face before unwinding for the evening.  The pleasure and satisfaction once gleaned from pumping iron, hitting the cardio machines, and getting a good sweat has long been replaced with boredom, annoyance, resentment, and anger.  For some, the burnout goes beyond the mental exhaustion and carries over to physical exhaustion as well.  People overuse, overwork, and over train their bodies to the point of intense exhaustion, bodily fatigue, and injury.  Without time off the body has no time to rest and repair itself, leaving it always playing catch-up and never operating at 100%.  [and if you want to BE your best, you gotta BRING your best!]

Why does this happen to so many people and so often?  What causes people to reach the point of such profound burnout?  I believe it stems from the lack of understanding the importance of two concepts: diversity and rest.  The first of the two, diversity in exercise,  is crucial to practice in order to avoid burnout, boredom, and injury.  Most people get into a routine at the gym: they come in, use certain machines [because they know and feel comfortable with them] and then leave.  They do this day in and day out.  While ANY exercise/activity will initially produce change and results, eventually the body gets used to the same repetitive motion/action [our bodies are so much smarter than we give them credit for!!] and the benefits begin to diminish.  What once produced significant calorie burn and muscle hypertrophy will, over time, no longer be challenging.  Exercise is meant to be progressive, that is changing and becoming more challenging as a person’s fitness level increases.  Without progression a person’s fitness level becomes “stuck”.  The elliptical machine might still say you’re burning X number of calories every time you get on it, but the calorie counters on cardio machines are rarely accurate and do not take into account enough information to make a precise assessment of what’s going on during the workout. 

In order to maximize the benefits of exercise, you MUST change it up!!! Don’t get comfortable using that one specific machine [3rd elliptical from the left, right by the TV that always plays BRAVO], instead discover something new! Give your body and your mind a new challenge.  Hop on a machine that you’ve never used before.  Its okay, it won’t bite!  And if you don’t know how to use it, just start pedaling and something will happen!  All else fails, ask a staff member at your gym to show you how to properly use it!   If that doesn’t sound appealing, find an activity outdoors that piques your interest: rollerblading, biking, swimming, hiking, walking, running.  If you’ve never done it before, try it!! The key is to always change it up.  Instead of spinning 5 days a week, try using the stair master, treadmill or ARC trainer.   If you’re a hard-core runner, try spin on one of your cardio days!  Something else to consider is group fitness classes; many gyms offer a wide variety of classes that are different from what goes on out on the cardio/weight room floor.   This also applies to strength training; if you are simply lifting barbells and dumbbells, try a body weight circuit or a Bootcamp class.  Increase sets, reps, and try doing unilateral exercises instead of bilateral.  Throwing a change into the mix will confuse your body and produce greater results.  And not only will this keep you from getting bored, but it will prevent you from getting injured.  Because exercise diversity forces you to work different muscles in different ways, it strengthens the body from different angles and gives all body parts a chance to work.   No single muscle (or muscle group) will be overused or over trained, and no muscle will be left under trained or ignored.

The second factor I believe contributes to exercise burnout is lack of rest.  When people get serious about working out and get into a groove, they rarely give themselves time to rest and repair.   They are so caught up with and focused on their goal [losing weight, gaining muscle, training for an event, transforming their bodies and minds, etc] that they may start to believe a day of rest will put them behind schedule and a day further away from reaching their goal.  Let me say: REST IS A MUST!!!  Exercise puts the body through the wringer: muscle fibers rip and tear apart during strength training, and we take a beating moving around during cardio exercise.  The work does not happen when we are in the gym, on the court, track or street.  The work- the lean muscle repair and growth, and fat loss- happen when we are asleep and otherwise at rest.  One day of FULL rest from exercise per week is recommended for people working out at a moderate intensity on a regular basis.  I personally believe that of the 7 days in a week, one day should be full rest and another should be an “Active Recovery” day.  Active Recovery can be anything that is LOW impact, does not raise the heart rate to its maximal levels, and is considered fun!  For my active rest, I enjoy going for a walk, taking a yoga class, or doing the elliptical for 15-20 minutes on a low setting.  Other folks enjoy doing Zumba or other dance classes for active recovery.  The remaining 5 days can be devoted to training well and training hard. 

Exercise burnout can cause people to abandon their workout routine all together.   This can lead to further deviation from a healthy lifestyle- becoming inactive, abandoning healthy eating habits, and allowing the mental muscle to weaken considerably.  In extreme cases, focus and determination become lost to apathy and self-loathing.  Don’t let yourself get to that point!!  If you feel yourself getting there, stop and check the nature of your routine.  Are you bored? Do you need to diversify your workout? Go ahead, try something new TODAY!  Are you letting yourself rest? Or have you been exercising hard every day for the past 2+ weeks?? Take a day of rest; it will do you a world of good! 

Have you ever experienced exercise burnout? What caused it? And how did you combat it?

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just cuz it hurts doesn’t mean it works!

9 Aug

On an average day of work at Beacon Hill Athletic Clubs I see a handful of people doing exercises with improper form.  Sometimes they just need a small tweak or two in the way they execute the exercise and sometime their form is so grossly off that I wonder what they are trying to accomplish.  I absolutely understand that not everyone knows the proper mechanics and it is this very fact that often deters people [especially women] from doing any strength/resistance training.  It is only normal to start out as a novice and then, with the tutelage of a certified professional, become more knowledgeable.  Eventually you can make your way around the weight room with an understanding of which exercises work which muscles, and the proper form for lifting.  I commend and respect those folks who take the time and make the effort to learn to train properly.  It makes a world of difference: results come quicker and last longer, injury is avoided, and with it all comes the satisfaction of knowing things are being done properly! 

But what drives me nuts more than anything else is when people exercise with improper form and then say “wow I’m so sore today, that was a GREAT workout yesterday!” At the risk of sounding crass and a little harsh, here’s a little newsflash: just because it hurts doesn’t mean it works!!!! Yes it is absolutely true that the day(or two) following resistance/strength training, the muscles worked will feel sore [and should have at least a day of rest before they are used in this capacity again].  This is due to muscle hypertrophy, or the growth and increase in size of the muscle cells.  This is a good, healthy thing and is indicative of gains in strength.  However, there are PLENTY of other reasons why muscles may be sore the day after a workout.  Lifting weights in a way that makes your muscles hurt/ache/feel sore during the exercise itself or after does NOT necessarily mean you’re doing things the right way.  Bones, ligaments, tendons,  nerves, and other important parts of the body can be severely injured doing exercises improperly. 

Don’t put yourself at risk for injury, don’t be an inefficient exerciser, and don’t be your body’s own greatest risk.  Take the time and make the effort to work with a trainer and learn how to do things properly.  Your body will thank you!

Ready to do it to it?!?! Email me and lets WORK IT OUTTT!!!!!  lucky13fitness@gmail.com

double standard

4 Aug

I spent last weekend on the Jersey Shore for a bachelorette party…yes THE Jersey Shore- Seaside Heights.  Home to Snooki, the Situation and the rest of the gang.  We actually saw them filming a few times during our stay there.  The Shore was quite a place; an experience like none other I’ve had.  While I had lots of fun fist pumping and dancing to the DJ’s great music, a few things did not sit well with me and I have not been able to put them out of my head.

Walking down the boardwalk is like being in an overgrown carnival.  Booth after booth, vendor after vendor, big lit-up sign after big lit-up sign all advertising food.  Each featured artery clogging, cholesterol raising, life span shortening, yet seemingly irresistible fare.  Pizza, hot dogs, cheesy fries, sausages, fried chicken, fried Snickers, fried Twinkies, milkshakes, cotton candy, corn dogs, burgers, ice cream; you name it, they had it.  I practically had to get out a fine tooth comb to search for suitable lunch food.  When I finally spotted a place that sold VitaCoco  Coconut Water and a sub-par fruit cup, I gladly forked over $8 in exchange for something that didn’t have “Partially Hydrogenated” or “High Fructose Corn Syrup” in the ingredient list. 

After grabbing my lunch and continuing my stroll down the boardwalk, the girls and I decided we wanted to splurge for new outfits to wear that night at Karma.  I felt like I was in a fashion photo shoot while in there.  All of the sales associates were petite, tan, blonde and well endowed in the chest.  I tried on the few items in the store that wouldn’t be found in a call girl’s wardrobe and settled on a ribbed corset top which was pretty snug, to say the least.  I made a joke that I’d have to get a size bigger so that I’d have room for dinner and not have to “suck it in” all night.  Every single item in that store (and all other stores) was made to be form-fitting, revealing, sexy.  but SO tight and uncomfortable.  Every item modeled was on a size 0 or 2, and of course fit like a glove.  Well what happens when REAL women with curves try on the same stuff?  They don’t feel so good.  I found myself immediately feeling less than thrilled about the way I looked.  Even me- a fit person who eats very well, works out regularly- I still felt self conscious about the way I looked.  I bought the shirt and walked back out of the store.

Back out into fried food land.  And that’s when it hit me.  HOW on Earth can we have so much junk and crap flashed in our faces as the cheapest, most appetizing, and sometimes only food around and then be expected to fit into and feel comfortable in such restrictive clothing?!  The more I thought about it, the more furious I became.  I started looking at the types of people walking down the boardwalk.  The majority were overweight, and some were obese.  Yes there were also those who seemed to be in the “normal” weight range, and some who even looked a bit underweight.  But no matter what, they were all eating that junk.  They were putting food into their mouths that will directly raise their chances of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, and even premature death.  I wondered how many people were eating this fare just because it was nearly the ONLY option, and how many didn’t think twice about eating this way.  How many women would walk into that shop and try to find a “hot outfit” for the club?  How many would feel just as uncomfortable as I had?

The greater picture boils down to this: junk food has become the most affordable, most accessible, and most flashy food out there.  Calories, trans and saturated fats, sodium, and chemicals are being pumped into people’s bodies at an alarming rate.  Simultaneously, the fashion industry and the media at large make it painfully obvious that skinny is in and tight, revealing clothing is what’s “hot”.  Just open up any magazine, you’ll see what I mean.  There will be an anorexic looking model on one page and an ad for a 99 cent Big Mac on the next.

This double standard makes me sick and needs to change.  Where to start?  The truth is- I don’t know.  There’s so many things that can be done- make healthy foods more affordable and accessible, shift the trends so that fashion isn’t impossible to wear unless you’re a size 0 or 2.  Something, anything, needs to be done.  As the famous quote says “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”

summertime sloth syndrome?

6 Jul

Snow; sub-zero temperatures;  sunset long before the work day ends; layer upon layer of clothes; waiting 15 minutes while the car warms up.  All the tell-tale signs of the dead of winter.  The world goes into hibernation as the temperature drops, and the desire to hit the gym or pavement drops with it.   WHY am I talking about the Winter Workout Blues in the middle of JULY on a 90 degree day?!  Well, because I think some of us experience a summertime version of the Winter Workout Blues- the Summertime Sloth Syndrome.

What is the Summertime Sloth Syndrome?  It sounds a little something like this: Its hot…no, its H-O-T….10 minutes in the sun and it’s a sweatfest.  And did anyone mention the humidity?!?  For some people it can be just as miserable as the snow and bitter cold of winter.  We get fatigued from being in the sun and the thought of exerting any extra energy to work out is nauseating.  All we want is to be inside the A/C or on the beach with a breeze and a cold beverage.   On top of all this, summertime is vacation time.  Whether its a weekend getaway, an extended trip, or even just a bunch of “staycation” BBQs, there’s always something to celebrate during the summer.  And all of this hearty eating and drinking can derail us from healthy habits.   Put all these factors together and Voila!, Summertime Sloth Syndrome (SSS).

How can we beat the dreaded SSS?  Its time to get creative and incorporate exercise into things that are FUN.  Working out does not always mean treadmill sprints, lifting dumbbells, and being confined to a gym setting.   Think about what you like to do, and then add an exercise twist!  If it’s too hot for a run in the neighborhood, try biking or rollerblading along a river, lake, or pond!  Hit the beach per usual, but this time bring your TRX suspension trainerand get a GREAT workout in the sand!  More fun can be had at the beach: play Frisbee, Nerf Football, or have races in the sand!  Want to be even closer to the water??  Go kayaking, water skiing, wake boarding, or tubing!  On a day that’s overcast and a little cooler, go for a long walk or hike.   No matter where you are, there’s always a workout waiting to be discovered.  Get creative, people!!!

This summer there are NO EXCUSES!  Don’t give in to SSS!!!! Reclaim your healthy habits and make your workouts FUN this summer!

What about you? How have you made your workouts fun this summer??

“cheat days”- we all have them

1 Jul

I get into conversations with people ALLLL the time about my diet- what I eat, what I don’t eat, and how I manage to “eat so healthy all the time!?”   I get asked questions like “Don’t you ever crave cookies or cake??”, “How can salad be so satisfying? Wouldn’t you just rather have pizza??”, and “Oh come on, eating so healthy can’t be that satisfying!”.

Truth is- yes of course I crave sweets and other “forbidden foods”;  while I absolutely truly love salad, sometime I DO want pizza; and eating healthy IS satisfying but I fully admit that I have my “cheat days”.  I break the rules every so often- I eat candy, cake, cookies, hamburgers, french fries, nachos, and maybe even some Munchkin donuts!!  Not all at once of course; but in small bits and on an infrequent basis.  Yes you read that right- I sometimes eat the food I consider to be JUNK!    And I do it because its only human to have cravings and equally as human to allow myself a treat every once and a a while.

I truly believe that it is because of the occasional treat and “cheat” that I am otherwise able to keep a healthy diet full of whole, REAL foods.  95% of the time I eat unprocessed foods that came directly from the ground, a tree/vine, or an animal.  I am aware of what I choose to eat and drink, and I compliment my healthy eating habits by exercising regularly and maintaining a generally healthy lifestyle.  Because this is the case 95% of the time, I allow myself to enjoy and splurge the other 5% of the time.  The key here is that the splurges are the EXCEPTION and not the rule.  Save them for special occasions- holidays, birthdays, important dinners, etc.

With the 4th of July holiday weekend here, it will no doubt be a time where we are surrounded by tempting foods at parties and BBQs.  Whether its potato chips, double chocolate brownies, BBQ ribs, cookies, ice cream cake or anything else that makes you salivate, don’t restrict yourself to the point of being miserable.  Instead do the opposite- plan to indulge during this special occasion.  Pick your favorite treat and allow yourself a small portion of it.  Be sure to take your time eating it- don’t shove it all in your mouth at once.  Enjoy each bite, savor the texture and flavors and really let it be an experience.  It’ll satisfy any cravings you’ve been having, and you’ll be less likely to binge on unhealthy foods in an unplanned way.

Food is delicious and fun.  It is made to be enjoyed so do just that!  All foods can be enjoyed in moderation and even the fittest, most health-conscious person can “Cheat” once and a while!

Have a HAPPY and safe 4th of July!!!

pre/post workout eating

1 Jul

Recently a Lucky13Fitness fan posted on the Facebook page asking me to write about the specifics of pre/post workout eating.  I thought it was a GREAT idea for a blog post!  So, here goes- my take on pre/post workout eating.   [Now, I MUST say that this is just that- MY take- and should be read as such.  Additionally, this is a basic outline that can be altered to meet individuals’ specific dietary needs/requirements.  Remember, not everyone’s needs are exactly the same, so its important to take the information supplied and use it in a way that works for you!]   Alright, here goes:

Pre-Workout

As a general rule, pre-workout food should consist of carbohydrates, a little fat, and some protein.  The main source of energy for the body comes from carbohydrates so you should NOT be afraid to consume this important food group, especially before working out!  Depending on the way your daily schedule unfolds and the time at which you workout, the pre-workout food could be a significant meal (400-500 calories) or a smaller snack (100-200ish calories).  If you are having a meal, make sure it is consumed at least 1 hour before your workout, so that there’s plenty of time for digestion.  If its a smaller snack, you can move it up to 30 mins before your workout.  There is a bit of trial & error with how close to your workout time you can eat.  Ideally you want to eat as close to the time of your workout as possible WITHOUT feeling ill!

Some of my favorite pre-workout snacks are:  apple & natural nut butter;  1 slice Ezekiel sprout bread toasted w/nut butter and sliced banana; greek yoghurt w/granola; 1 slice Ezekiel sprout bread with 1 string cheese; homemade smoothie w/1 cup milk and 1 banana or other fruit.

Post-Workout
It is absolutely IMPERATIVE to eat after a workout.  I have talked with so many people who think “I just worked out SO hard and burned ALL These calories.  The last thing I want to do is go ingest them all again! I’m not eating!”  I promise you, that’s not the way our bodies work.  After a workout, our bodies are depleted of glycogen stores and we are in somewhat of a starvation mode.  The main purpose of the post-workout meal is to stop protein breakdown, start protein resynthesis, and replenish glycogen stores.  Basically we need to give the body food to replenish itself, and build lean muscle.  And the sooner it happens, the better.  Immediately after and up to two hours post-workout is the key time to eat.

The question becomes: how much do I eat after I workout?  What if its late, and its right before bed? Do I eat a snack or a full meal?  The answer is- it depends.  People who work out first  thing in the morning will have a small pre-workout snack, and then can eat a proper breakfast when they are done.  If your workout takes place in the middle of the day after lunch, a post-workout snack will do the trick.  Those who work out later in the evening may have a small mid-afternoon snack before the workout and then should have a proper dinner afterwards.  People are often wary to eat a meal close to bedtime, but it is my belief that to omit a meal entirely is more detrimental.  A meal consisting of lean protein, some carbs, and veggies is a perfect thing to have after a workout, even if it’s an hour before bedtime.

Some of my favorite post-workout meals/snacks :  milk or greek yoghurt with cereal; egg whites w/spinach, tomato, mushroom and part skim mozzarella; apple with natural nut butter; grilled chicken sandwich on whole wheat bread.

The bottom line is this: there is no single “correct” way to eat pre/post workout.  Aim to follow key principles outlined here and tailoring them to meet your dietary needs, and schedule.  If you find it overwhelming or difficult, try meeting with a personal trainer or a registered nutritionist and talk detail about a specific plan for YOU!

June Newsletter

6 Jun

The summer is finally here! After all the rain, gray days, cold spells and yucky weather, I think the sun is finally here to stay!
The days are longer, people are a bit more laid back and the vibe is just so chill.  At the same time, summer always brings me a new energy- a positive mental state that has me smiling and putting extra pep in my step.  I can’t help but be in a great mood on a gorgeous, sunny day.  No more bundling up and shoveling snow just to get out of the house.  Just slide on flip flops (or running shoes!) and go!! Its instant happy!
This energy undoubtedly transfers from my daily activities, to my job, to my relationships, and to my workouts.  I am in a positive state of mind, and ready to give 100% in everything I do.
The key is to keep it that way as much as possible, and maintain a healthy balance.  When something gets you off track, and sours your mood, stop and take a deep breath.  Think about how much ACTUAL irreversible damage this person/thing is causing your life.  Is it WORTH getting so upset about?  Stop and look out the window, let the sunshine warm you, and  breathe in new air.  Try as hard as you can to keep the negative energy OUT of your life.  Summer should be about being HAPPY and having FUN!

BADONKADONK BONANZA 2011
If you have not yet experienced my version of outdoor bootcamp, you are MISSING OUT.  Take your fitness to another level by participating in a SWEATFEST 1hr workout that will get you in shape. I promise.

Physically it will challenge your strength, endurance, flexibility and agility.  Mentally it will help you to push  past your comfort zone, break through your supposed limits, and achieve goals and expectations…it’ll make you dig DEEP to bring your BEST.  Most importantly- it will be FUN!  Your fellow Bootcampers will provide both motivation and a little competition to get you going in high gear!!  Show up once a week for an hour and BRING IT, and I promise to do the same.
Spots are limited and WILL fill up fast so email me at lucky13fitness@gmail.com to reserve your spot today! Come sweat it out with me!!!

What You’ll Get: Badonkadonk Bonanza- a 1hr per week Bootcamp-styled group fitness class that will get your BADONK tight and your life right, emails from ME to help keep you on track to meet your goals, the valuable motivation from your fellow bootcampers.
Where You’ll Get It: Nunziato Field, 22 Vinal Ave., Somerville, MA, 02143
When You’ll Get It: Sunday evenings 7-8pm ALL SUMMER LONG!!!
Cost: $25/session.  Pre-register for a month and SAVE $5 per session. Get 4 sessions for $80!!!

How much a month do you spend on new clothes? food/drinks? makeup? jewelry? lottery? $80/month on your health and wellness is WELL worth it!!   Make the commitment to yourself and get results you DESERVE!

Stay Connected with Lucky13Fitness
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for exercise tips, healthy recipes, a whole lot of motivation, and DISCOUNTS on Badonkadonk Bonanza enrollment!!!

In The News
This past weekend I completed the Renegade Playground Challenge in Loudon, NH.  It is a 5k run with 25 crazyyyyy obstacles to conquer. Think mud, monkey bars, ladders, crawling in/around ropes, swamps, etc.  It was CRAZY!! It was most definitely a huge challenge and I was excited and proud to cross the finish line with my fellow Renegades.  This race is along the lines of the Tough Mudder, and Warrior Dash.  They are all incredible goals to work toward.  They give you a reason to train, and to push yourself FURTHER!  If you aren’t already signed up to take on a similar challenge this summer, i urge you to get a couple friends together and DO IT! It is so much fun!

SCHEDULE/TRAVEL
Lots going on this month!
I am teaching THREE Bootcamp sessions per week:

Wednesday evenings 6-7pm – Beacon Hill Athletic Club, Brighton
Thursday Noon-1pm- Beacon Hill Athletic Club, Brighton **NEW**
Sunday evening 7-8pm- Nunziato Field, Somerville

Travel- This month I am lucky enough to travel to China! I am very excited for my first trip to Asia, and can’t wait to share stories and pictures with you when I return!

June 20-29th- gone to explore Asia…

BUT Badonkadonk Bonanza WILL HAPPEN!!!  My friend and wonderful fitness colleague Paige Crowther will be leading BB on Sunday June 26th. Paige has been a veteran of BB and is FULL of motivation and energy. I have full confidence that she will lead an amazing camp!!!!

Subs for Wed/Thurs bootcamp at BHAC are TBD. I will let you know as soon as I find out!

WORKOUT WITH ME!!!
Whether you like the energetic environment of a group fitness class, the helpful motivation of working out with a friend or two, or the individualized attention of 1:1 training, I’ve got what works for you!  Let’s make 2011 your year- email me at lucky13fitness@gmail.com and lets get it startedddddd!!!!
Doesn’t matter if you live in Boston, Braintree, or beyond, we will make it work!!

MUSIC IS FUEL FOR YOUR WORKOUT
Every newsletter I include music that helps to get my Badonk in motion during my workouts, and share it with you!  This month, I’m giving you a track that will keep your sweatfest going!!!

Marry The Night- Lady Gaga

This song, and actually the whole album are GREAT for working out.  She’s gotten some flak for this record but i LOVE it.  It gets me into a great groove on a long run.  Enjoy!
Persistence. Determination. DREAM IT, THEN DO IT!

Much love,
Michelle

“To be your best, you gotta bring your best”