Since last November, I have been working with a client who has fibromyalgia. I had some experience helping people work through this condition in the past, but this was my first long-term client with the disease.
The CDC defines fibromyalgia as is a condition that causes pain all over the body, sleep problems, fatigue, and emotional and mental distress. Previous to working with me, she had started taking Plexus supplements which helped tremendously but felt like something was missing. She decided to reach out to me to start a strength training program.
When creating a program for someone with fibromyalgia, you must consider these basic principles:
1. Start with no weight. Literally. Go through range of motion exercises without weight.
2. Assess balance and flexibility. Be creative in introducing balance exercises.
3. Add weight 1-3 lbs at a time to exercises.
4. Start with one set of 6-10 reps. Increase every 2-4 weeks.
5. Never do an exercise to fatigue. I use the 70-80% rule.
6. Do not completely enter into full extension (locking knees, elbows, etc) with any exercise.
7. Rest between sets. I rarely use supersets.
During our 10 months together, she told me that she feels stronger, sleeps much better, experiences less pain and enjoys exercise more than she had previously. Originally, I had also encouraged her to get a step counter and to start at 4,000 steps per day. That might seem minimal, but with chronic pain, too much too soon can make symptoms worse. She is now regularly walking over 8,000 steps per day!!
If you know anyone who suffers from chronic pain, please encourage them to consider researching the benefits of exercise. Chronic pain can cripple their motivation and subtle suggestions can help if they are fed up with their disease. If you have any questions about developing a program that suits someone with fibromyalgia, please contact Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Getting outside to exercise during the winter can be brutal. My husband and I chose to “vacation” to beautiful and friendly Madison, WI after Christmas. We are both unpleasant when we don’t get outdoor time so I have put together the ultimate outfit to survive the frigid Midwest winter weather. I have included links to examples of these items. (Note #1: Some items seem expensive, but if they are made out of wool and other high performing materials, it’s like owning 3-4 cheap alternatives. Note #2: I should also mention that you will be so warm when wearing these items during your outdoor exercise that you will probably consider not being so hardcore/overdressed, but at least you are guaranteed not to be cold.)
1. Knee High Wool Socks
2. Thermal Hat
3. Bada$$ Mittens (I like them so much I bought a matching pair for my husband!)
4. Windbreaker with neck protection and a hood
5. Thermal Baselayer Top
6. Fleece Lined Leggings
4 Behaviors to Avoid this Fall
WIth the onset of shortened daylight hours, it is easy to slip into some dangerous habits this fall. Here are a few to think about and structure your daily routine in order to avoid.
1. Sleeping in -- Changing your sleeping habits because you don't like to get up before the sun does can alter how you feel during the day. Try to get up at the same time each day. Your body recognizes a pattern of rest and when the pattern is disrupted, this can make you feel lethargic and low on energy.
2. Coffee -- What are you putting in your coffee?! Are you drinking more coffee when the weather gets cooler and the days are shorter? I know I do. Make sure you're not adding anything "gross" to your coffee. This means artificial sweeteners (or just sugar in general), creamer, and other artificial flavors. Stick to black coffee if possible. Plus, is it really coffee anymore after you add all of that stuff??
3. Get outside -- Yes it's colder, but that doesn't mean you can't adapt to the cooler temps. Cold weather clothing is warmer and more comfortable than ever so continue your outdoor activity and dress accordingly. Treadmills are awful and we could all use some fresh air.
4. Vegetables -- All of those delicious summer plants are sadly becoming out-of-season. Fill up on the good fall stuff -- sweet potatoes, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, etc. Here's a great list.
Embrace fall and stay engaged to your well-being. That way you don't have to worry about the "I need to get in shape for summer" crowd next year!
I hate going to the gym!
I get a lot of puzzled looks when people ask me what I do for a living. It is usually followed up by "Which gym do you work in?" or "What kind of training do you do?". I need to find a better way to explain what I do besides, "Oh… I'm a personal trainer."
The truth is that I have never worked in a gym. In fact, I cannot stand going to the gym. I have a great gym membership at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, but only use it for the great indoor and outdoor pool and maybe an occasional spinning class. Although my gym is more of a community center where everyone knows each other, I cringe every time I think about walking into a Lifetime or 24-hour Fitness. It's filled with people trying to sell you supplements or personal training. I find lots of wandering eyes either finding ways to strike up a conversation or looks of judgment. (Sorry, I don't really worry about matching in an outfit I'm about to sweat in.) Their employees often attempt to point out what you're doing wrong in order to sell their services instead of encouraging what you're already doing.
The best part of my job is the personal interaction I get from going into my client's homes. Their "gyms" have very little to very advanced equipment. I am able to understand how I can help them best since as I walk in the door, I'm in their world, and not mine. Each time I walk through their door, it is a completely new experience and sometimes very challenging. After training for almost ten years in this environment, I have learned so much about adjusting to schedules, stress levels, and physical limitations.
I've made a career out of this pliable lifestyle and I don't intend on changing anytime soon. I think the best place to improve your fitness doesn't happen in a gym. It is done so outdoors! I hate going to the gym!
Tired of this weather? I'm not. Yes, it's been below 10 degrees more days this winter than the last 6 winters combined. The Farmer's Almanac additionally is predicting a mess of weather this February to top it off. To get through the cold and snowy days this winter, you've got to get a little more creative to stay as fit as you are in the peak of the summer.
- Find a fitness class on YouTube that has a high number of views to conveniently sweat in the comfort of your own home.
- Area bike shops and fitness stores have indoor cycling classes where you bring your own bike, some even provide bike trainers for a small fee.
- Swimming is a great indoor activity and can be very therapeutic if you're feeling those lazy winter aches and pains from sitting all day.
- On days when the roads and sidewalks aren't clear, find a friend and go running in a multi-level parking garage (as long as it's not rush hour!). I like the lots at Johnson County Community College and the garage by Capitol Grille on the Plaza and can run about 45 minutes without getting bored (as long as your friend is chatty).
- The cross country skiing is excellent out at Shawnee Mission Park and even has groomed trails if the amount of snow is significant enough.
- Fitness classes at your gym. Try a new class you've never tried. I have found a great spinning classes at the Jewish Community Center and have been getting the itch to try their CrossFit class.
- Gear up and get outside. Even on cold days, during most of the winter months the sidewalks are clear. Get into a Garry Gribble's store to find the right clothing and accessories to keep you warm and help you forget about the temperature.
Whatever it is you find to do, share with your friends and help us all stay out of the winter funk. February is the shortest month of the year so spring is almost here!
A typical day - sad or awesome?
I get a lot of questions about my daily schedule from many of my friends/clients. Here is the most "typical" daily schedule (no day is typical):
4:30am - ALARM!
4:45 - Breakfast
5:15 - Out the door
5:30 - Client Training
7:15 - Pool workout or office tasking
8:30 - Food
9:00 - Client Training
1:00 - Cycle or Pool workout
2:30 - Food
3:00 - Client training or working at Garry Gribbles
8:30 - home for the night - Food
9:00 - reading, LIGHTS OUT!
I'm so fortunate that my parents forced a disciplined sleeping schedule for us growing up. Overall, it has kept me out of trouble (let's forget about college...), happy and healthy. I wouldn't trade this schedule for any 9-5'er. I find extreme fulfillment in accomplishing both working and working out before some 20 and 30-somethings even open their eyes. Also, coffee is helpful and enhances my love for the early morning hours.
I encourage everyone to find "normalcy" in their weekly routine. You'll find yourself becoming increasingly productive and that promotes additional satisfaction in your personal life.
Chicago Marathon Finisher!
Last weekend was incredible! Had I never been able to run Boston, the Chicago Marathon is the real deal. The whole event was flawless from start to finish. They know what they are doing. As for my personal race, I decided about 4 miles in that I was going to see how long I could hold a pace that would qualify me for the Boston Marathon. I felt great until about 14-15 when I could feel just a slight tightness in my groin. I was still maintaining pace though! I lasted through about 21 and then decided to shut it down. I never thought that deciding to do that would still yield a great experience. I enjoyed a classic 312 at mile 23 with some frat guys, waving to some relatives and KC fans, and enjoyed a few laughs as I was heckled by some onlookers to keep going. I was breathless for the last half mile of the race. What a finish! Even though I was very far back, the crowd was still involved as if I was in the top ten. I shed a few tears at the finish and got lots of photos of me, a first time Chicago Marathon finisher, healthy and happy (and with a beer in hand).
My favorite part of the race was Boystown, or up in Lakeview. The entire first half was incredible, actually. West Loop was pretty boring after you passed over the half way mark and after Greektown. I wasn't overly impressed with Chinatown but appreciate all of the enthusiasm and culturally exclusive neighborhoods in the south part of the race. Overall, I would give this race a 11 out of 10. What an experience! I had the best weekend, spending it with my temporary roommates Candice, Valerie and Lynne. Even my parents made the trip from Iowa to cheer me on. I saw them three times on the course and could tell them were proud. This made the entire event extra special.
This was my last marathon for a while. The race was Sunday; it is now Thursday. I am four days deep into my "70.3 training". I've got a long way to go.
Easy guide to becoming PAIN-FREE!
We have a culture full of sitters - at work, in the car, on the couch, at a restaurant, etc. With excessive sitting comes aches and pains that can lead you straight into the doctor or chiropractors office. I have wonderful friends who work in both fields and have learned from them and my own experiences with injury over the last decade. We don't move or stretch enough, plain and simple. If you could be pain free by simply spending five minutes of your day devoted to pain relief, would you do it?
Try doing this once in the morning and once before you sleep:
1. Floor Bridge - laying on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet on the ground, lift your hips and glutes off of the floor, squeeze your bum for 2 seconds and lower back to the floor. Repeat 20 times.
2. Standing Knee Hug - In a standing position, grab one knee with both hands over the kneecap, pull for one second and alternate to the other knee. Repeat 20 times.
3. Standing Quad Stretch - Standing, reach back with one hand to grab the top of your foot and reach into the air with the opposite arm, pull and alternate. Repeat 20 times.
4. Standing Leg Cradle - Standing, place one hand on the outside of one ankle and the other hand on the outside of the same knee and pull your shin up to your chest in a position where the shin is paralell to your chest. Pull for one second and alternate to the opposite leg. Repeat 20 times.
I do these exercises everyday before I workout, which mostly consists of running. Since taking up this dynamic warmup prior to running, training for my fifth marathon has felt much easier than the previous ones. You see, I spend about 3 hours everyday commuting between my clients' homes and that makes for tight hip flexors and a sore back when it comes time to do my own workout.
If you have chronic aches and pains, give this a try. Of course, it could be much more serious than a bunch of tight, weak muscles so use discretion when it comes to contacting a doctor about your condition.