If you’ve ever bent over and felt a twinge, only to realize you can’t stand back up again, you’re a candidate for functional fitness training. In fact, it’s often the preferred type of training for Special Forces and police departments across the nation. That’s because it does more than focus on strength, it combines all types of fitness, which include strength and power, flexibility, endurance and coordination. That’s because they need those attributes in a real life survival setting, not in a static gym setting. It’s also one of the reasons that even weight lifters can use this type of training.
Of course, you’re not a police officer or Special Forces, but you still need functional fitness.
It’s name says it all. It’s being fit enough to do every day things without injury. You don’t have to be riding the waves to get an injury. You could be walking the paths William R Mason Regional Park, lifting a baby or bending over to pick up something you dropped and get injured. It might seem impossible, until you’ve done it and then you’ll blame it on dumb luck or bending just right, where in reality, it could have been avoided. That doesn’t mean you’ll be immune to injury, just reduce the risk of it happening.
Functional fitness started with rehabilitating soldiers.
After WWI soldiers returned with injuries that limited their functioning. They received therapy to help them build core strength and improve their muscle functioning for simple tasks like walking, bending, standing and sitting. Functional fitness focuses on compound movements, using several muscle groups instead of just one. It works muscle groups in multiple planes, rather than just one, like typical workouts and focuses on using the widest range of motion. It also focuses on unilateral training, coordinating muscle movements and working out on an unstable surface.
The coordination of functions is an important difference.
If you lift weights all day long and work on isolated muscle groups, you’ll get big beasty muscles (if you’re a man), but not necessarily functional fitness. It won’t protect you from injury if you’re stretching up to lift something off the top shelf of the cupboard or bending and twisting at the same time to pick something up off the floor. Even those with the biggest muscles can be blindsided and injured if they aren’t functionally fit.
- Exercises that use multiple muscle groups or require constant changes in those groups can help boost your functional fitness. You may think walking, while lifting and flipping a tire ahead of you is strength training, but it’s really for overall functional fitness, with strength training only part of it.
- Functional fitness is great for seniors. It can help keep them independent longer by improving their muscle strength, agility and balance. That helps lower the risk of falls.
- For those just starting an exercise program, using their own body weight for resistance is often the best place to start.
- Always check with your health care professional first before starting any exercise program. If you have a health condition, make sure you share that information with your personal trainer.
There’s a lot of talk about the benefit of a ketogenic diet for weight loss, but it doesn’t address the need for carbs when doing high intensity exercises. That’s one reason a cyclical ketogenic diet has become so popular. It provides a diet that has a moderate protein content, is low in carbs and higher in fat. It has the advantage of reducing hunger, making you feel fuller, lowering levels of insulin and blood sugar. You normally eat fewer calories because you aren’t as hungry and because insulin levels are lower, you’ll burn fat cells for energy. There are some problems with doing this continuously.
It’s hard to maintain a keto diet when you’re out with the gang.
Going out to eat with a group brings on a whole new pressure. By cycling the diet, to allow you to have your keto cheat day when you’re socializing, you don’t have to worry. Eat what you like when you’re with friends…unless you have a super active social life, then you might have a problem. There are health benefits to cycling this type of diet. For instance, the higher fat diet improves the body’s ability to use fatty acids while improving the health of those with insulin sensitivity and lowering inflammation throughout the body.
Not just any fat will do.
Whether sticking with a straight ketogenic diet or cyclical one, you have to consume healthy fat and protein. Just like carbs, not all fat is healthy and some sources of protein are better than others. Healthy fat includes coconut products, nuts and seeds, avocados, butter and animal products from grass-fed cows and extra-virgin olive oil. The carbs you should avoid are starchy carbs and consume ones that are low-glycemic. Having a diet too high in carbohydrates continuously, diminishes the body’s ability to burn fat, internal, external, healthy or otherwise.
Cycling out of a ketogentic diet is important for a number of reasons.
If you’re constantly on a ketogentic diet, your body goes into a state of chronic nutritional ketosis..which occurs in the feast and famine cycle. That’s not good because it causes the insulin levels in the blood to be too low and your blood sugar levels to rise. Insulin causes the suppression of glucose production in the liver, so without it, it raises your blood sugar levels. Low carb diets can also alter the microbes in your digestive tract that can affect both your digestive system and health. Cycling in and out of a ketogentic is based on your needs. You can even add a day of fasting to it. Many people eat low carbs during the week and have one or two days on the weekend to double or triple their carbohydrate intake.
- Make sure your body is getting the right types of fat, including fatty acids. The recommended balance of Omega-6 fatty acid to Omega-3 fatty acid is 4 to 1. The average American has a 25+ to 1 ratio. Sources of good fat include oysters, salmon and walnuts.
- Your fasting time when cycling in and out of a keto diet can be as short as 16 hours to reap benefits. Just stop eating earlier one day and begin again later the next to achieve that.
- Eliminate processed foods from your diet, which is wise advice no matter what type of dietary plan you follow.
- Even on a “cheat” or cycling out day, make sure the carbs you consume are healthy carbs, to achieve the biggest benefits.
While there’s a resurgence of interest in the practice of Earthing, it’s not new. In the 1800s, there was an interest in Germany in a back-to-nature movement. While it didn’t catch on with the rest of the world, by the 1920’s the benefit of sleeping on the ground was investigated by Dr. White. It included studies of connecting people to the ground by attaching copper wires to grounded water, radiator or gas pipes. Today, there’s more interest than ever in the potential for receiving benefit from direct contact to the ground to tap into the supply of electrons from the surface of the earth.
Why Earthing, why now?
Man has undergone numerous changes in lifestyle since earlier times. We no longer walk barefoot and for that matter, don’t even have leather soles on our shoes, but often rubber or plastic. Unless you’re a camping enthusiast, you don’t sleep on the ground. Even then, there can be a rubber or foam mat separating you from the ground. The earth supplies a constant free electrons that the body can use if it’s in direct contact with the surface of the earth. Shoes with synthetic soles can block that charge and living inside constantly, does so, too.
Earthing is simple.
Your body is primarily water and minerals. Water conducts electrical energy easily. The body is an electrical machine that receives its energy two ways. It receives a negative charge from the ground. When the sun’s rays hits the ionosphere it’s split into a positive charge and negative charge. The negative charge goes into the ground via lightening and the positive charge stays atop, 60 miles up. When the negative charge is blocked, it interferes with the processes in the body.
Grounding gets the body back to normal and stops inflammation.
Studies show that serious conditions such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s, arthritis and many others are caused by inflammation. It reduces free radicals that can cause cell damage by neutralizing them. It’s such a simple method to help the body and costs absolutely nothing. Simply take off your shoes and walk on the ground barefoot for 15 to 30 minutes a day. While most studies indicate the “vitamin G” from grounding has huge health benefits, even if it doesn’t, you’ll get the pure enjoyment of squiggling your toes in the grass and enjoying Mother Nature.
- There are pilot studies that show that grounding or earthing, can help reduce pain dramatically. Try it yourself the next time you have achy muscles or even a headache.
- One study on earthing published in the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine in 2007, showed it helps improve sleep. Other studies also show it lowers cortisol levels in the body.
- Earthing can bring immediate relief from jet lag.
- For pain relief from pulled muscles, TMJ or other conditions, try Earthing for 30 minutes for a week to see if it brings improvement. Most people find it helps the first time they try it.
Whether it’s the upper back, mid back or lower back, back pain can ruin your day. It can interfere with productivity and make you want to can get relief from back pain. One way is to get a massage. A massage not only helps your muscles relax, it also improves circulation, boosts endorphins and relieves stress. Studies show it does more than just help you feel good while you’re getting the massage, it also helps lessen future back pain. If you have access to a heated pool, your body’s buoyancy in water helps relieve the pressure of gravity.
Stretch your muscles for reduced pain.
One of my favorite exercises to reduce lower back pain is extremely simple. Lie on your back with both knees bent, hold a bath size towel with one end in each hand. Lift one foot off the ground and loop the towel around the bottom of the foot then gently pull the leg up, straightening it as you go until it’s directly above your hips perpendicular to the ground. You’ll feel it stretch all your muscles. Lower it and switch legs. This gives me instant relief after sitting in front of a computer screen for a while. Upper back exercises include stretching the arms out to the side and twisting from side to side or turning the head from side to side and attempting to touch the ears to the shoulders.
Go out for a walk in the sun.
Not only will the walk help increase circulation, the rays of the sun will warm your skin and provide you with vitamin D. A study showed that people suffering from constant back pain that didn’t have a specific cause were helped by improving their vitamin D levels. In all studies, those with chronic unexplained back pain had lower vitamin D levels. Increasing vitamin D can reduce the amount of pain without taking a supplement. The walk also increases circulation.
Learn relaxation techniques.
If you have an injury, you can help it heal by practicing relaxation techniques. It’s tough to do when you’re in pain. Start with slow stretches, moving like a cat and then get into your relaxation position. Put a heating pad on your back while you’re meditating, just to help things along a bit. Start doing it for short periods and work your way up to twice a day for 15 minutes.
- Work with your personal trainer to help build your abdominal muscles and work on back strengthening exercises. If your stomach muscles are weak, they make your back muscles work harder.
- Drink plenty of water. The water flushes toxins out of your system and also can help reduce stiffness.
- Get plenty of sleep. Sleep helps the body restore the muscle tissue and allows them to relax. Avoid caffeinated drinks, but enjoy a warm drink, like chamomile tea.
- Keep a positive attitude. Laughing more is good for relieving pain. It boosts the production of endorphins.
If you want to eliminate the potential for chemicals and toxins in your food, you can do it in a number of ways. One is by avoiding the dirty dozen. The dirty dozen is the name given to produce that contains higher amounts of pesticides and chemicals. Each year, the USDA takes samples of fruits and vegetables found in groceries across the country and tests them for 230 pesticides and the residue left when those pesticides break down. The samples are from produce grown in the conventional manner. The EWG—Environmental Working Group—then uses that list to identify not only the “Dirty Dozen,” those with the most pesticides—even after washing and peeling, but also the “Clean Fifteen,” the least amount of residue.
Why should you be concerned?
Since pesticides are used to kill living organisms, consuming them can’t be that healthy. In fact, they’ve been linked to a number of conditions that include cancer, disorders of the brain and nervous system and hormone disruption. One study showed that women consuming two or more servings of produce with higher pesticide residue reduced their likelihood of a successful pregnancy by 26 percent. Another study using male participants found similar results. Neither study found there was an association to lower fertility if people ate the fruits and vegetables lower in pesticide residue.
A whopping 70 percent of the samples of traditional farming methods were contaminated.
Not all fruits and vegetables need to be organic to be safe. Some make it to the clean 15 for a variety of reasons. Either they have a natural barrier, like a thick skin that isn’t eaten or they don’t use a lot of pesticides, such as onions, which are natural pesticides. Choosing organic when consuming the “dirty dozen” is a strong option. The most contaminated was strawberries, followed by spinach. The rest of the list included apples, nectarines, peaches, grapes, pears, celery, potatoes, tomatoes and sweet bell peppers.
Sticking with safer fruits and vegetables when not buying organic is the way to go.
EWG was thorough in their recommendations. They didn’t stop at telling you what to be wary of if you’re not buying organic. They also included foods you could feel comfortable purchasing whether organic or traditionally grown. That’s the “Clean Fifteen.” The list included foods with thick skins, such as avocados and veggies with their own natural pesticide, like onions. It also included sweet corn, frozen sweet peas, cabbage, pineapple, papaya, asparagus, eggplant, mangoes, honeydew and cantaloupe melons, kiwis, broccoli and cauliflower.
- Using the list of both the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” can save you money. Buy organic when shopping for those laden with pesticides and save money by purchasing traditionally grown fruits and vegetables with minimal pesticide content.
- Strawberries and spinach had the most incidence of pesticides. The average spinach sample had almost two times (1.8) the amount of residue from pesticide when judged by weight, than any other fruit or vegetable.
- The list does not contain information on GMO produce. If you’re avoiding GMO products, most papayas, some sweet corn, yellow squash and zucchini qualify for the GMO list. Buying the organic alternative for these fruits and vegetables eliminates the problem.
- The EWG website expanded their criteria to include hot peppers. Toxic pesticides oxamyl, acephate and chlorpyrifos, which have been banned on other vegetables are still allowed for use on hot peppers.
The whole purpose of eating healthier and working out is to keep your body in good shape and reduce the risk of serious conditions and disease. There are many hazards we can’t avoid, such as air pollution, unless you take drastic steps, like never leaving the house. But even inside your home there are dangers lurking and some of those can come from chemical laden cleaning products. You can keep your home a healthier place without toxic chemicals by using more natural cleaning methods. Some of these will also save you money in the process.
Don’t waste money when you clean the bathroom or the kitchen sink and keep your environment chemical free with this handy kitchen aid.
White vinegar may not have the same health benefits or cooking uses as its cousin apple cider vinegar, but it makes an exceptional cleaner for all sorts of jobs. It’s non-toxic, can be used around children, pets and even when family members have allergies to other cleaning products. It has a natural deodorizing, anti-fungal, antibacteria and degreasing ability because it’s mildly acidic. Put it in a spray bottle and spray the tub and sink, then let it set for a short time and wipe it clean. Pour some in the toilet, let it set and swirl with the toilet brush and it will be clean and deodorized. You name the job, it will do it. If you need more power, spray the area with vinegar, sprinkle some baking soda on, watch it bubble and scrub. Best of all, white vinegar is super cheap. A 64 oz bottle only costs about two dollars.
Throw away those drier sheets and keep your family healthier.
You won’t find a list of ingredients on your drier sheets because companies aren’t required to list all the chemicals used. There are carcinogens, endocrine diruptors and many other hazardous chemicals that can affect your family’s health. Acetaldehyde is commonly found in dryer sheets since its used in low cost fragrances they use. It can damage the kidneys, lungs and nervous system. What’s funny is that its regulated for outdoor use, but not for products used inside your home. A non-toxic alternative for dryer sheets is a dryer ball. You can make your own felted wool yarn, but they’re relatively inexpensive when you buy them at large discount chains. I just bought a set of six for ten dollars. You use three to four per load and they last for 1,000 loads.
Get rid of dust mites and freshen your mattress with baking soda and essential oils.
This one takes a little patience and time, but not hard work. If you want to reduce the number of dust mites and freshen your mattress, mix a cup or two of baking soda with a few drops of your favorite essential oil (lavender helps you sleep sounder). Put this mixture into a mason jar with holes punched in the lid with a nail, a cheese shaker or even the leg of old panty hose. Shake it on the mattress and let it set for 8 hours or more. Vacuum it off thoroughly. Wash your bedding in hot water with a few drops of eucalyptus oil and dry it in high heat to kill off any mites in your bedding.
- Microwave the juice of one lemon in ½ C of water for three minutes. Keep the door closed for another two minutes and then wipe it clean with a dry cloth. It will sparkle.
- A paste made from hydrogen peroxide and baking soda can be just what you need to remove rust stains from sinks. Apply it to the area and give it time to work before you use a scrubbing sponge to finish the job of removing the stain.
- Cleaning mineral deposits from a tea kettle or pan is easy. Boil vinegar in the kettle and it comes off easily.
- Are fleas a problem? FOOD GRADE diatomaceous earth works well. Vacuum, sprinkle it onto the floor and let it go for about hours, then vacuum the area again. You will have to repeat daily for 3 to 4 weeks to ensure you kill all fleas, since that’s the length of their lifecycle and all the eggs have hatched.
Whether you’re trying to “unkink” a muscle after a tough workout or just need a little help to relax, a massage is a perfect way to do it. However, there are other health benefits of a massage that you might not know about and a few that could help you overcome serious conditions that create chronic pain. Even Mayo Clinic, considered the best hospital in the nation, applauds the use of massage as a complementary form of medicine, particularly for painful conditions.
Relax and help relieve anxiety and other conditions with a massage.
If you’ve ever suffered from TMJ—temporomandibular joint pain, to the point you’re ready for surgery, consider a deep massage to help you before you take that option. Some studies show that massage can be a non-invasive way to relieve the pain of TMJ. It’s also a help for soft tissue strains and injuries, myofascial pain syndrome, sports injuries and headaches.
Digestive disorders can be helped with massage.
Just the relaxation that comes with a massage is good for many digestive disorders. However, massage can also benefit those who have a sluggish colon, which causes constipation. If the digestive process slows, it can cause issues that also range from diarrhea to nausea. Massage can help stimulate the digestive process and aid in the release of enzymes that aid digestion and removal of waste products. Massage is also great in helping to relieve gas and bloating and improving the stomach muscles to prevent future problems.
Look to massage therapy for aid in relieving pain from fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia causes intense muscle pain, tightness, twitching and burning. There are tender points in the body and totally draining fatigue in some cases. People with fibromyalgia may have insomnia, fibro fog, feel nervous or depressed. They may also have dry eyes, dry mouth, abdominal pain and numbness in various areas of the body. While medications and regular exercise are often used to help control this condition, massage therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic therapy can also be a huge benefit.
- If you’ve ever rubbed your neck, temples or head in an attempt to relieve a headache, you probably already understand how massage can help it.
- Lack of sleep can lead to several serious conditions, including heart problems. It can also cause weight gain. Massage can help when lack of sleep comes from stress.
- Getting a massage on a regular basis can also reduce both the upper and lower numbers of your blood pressure.
- Massage not only helps circulation and improves posture, it also helps give your immune system a boost. You’ll be less prone to infections when you get a massage on a regular basis.
If you have successfully created a workout habit and stuck with it, you’ve developed habits that will help you in and out of the gym. The first habit of successful people, both in life and in the world of fitness, is to create goals and the path to reach them. Setting a goal is the first step to achieving that goal and it can take you further in life than you ever thought possible.
Creating a schedule to achieve the goal.
Getting fit is not a one time shot and anyone with any experience working out knows that. As a personal trainer, I normally handle the exercises used to reach the goal, but my clients know that they have to put in the time. They make sure that workout time is in their schedule and leave nothing to chance. No matter how great your goal, if you don’t take steps to achieve it, it becomes a wish. Making sure you take the time each day to work on your goal will lead you to success.
Mental toughness is often learned in the gym and is a trait of successful people.
Mental toughness is the ability to continue on working long after others have stopped. It’s knowing you’ll achieve your goal and refusal to accept failure. If you’ve ever worked toward your highest potential in a gym and didn’t quit until you’ve achieved your goal, you’re developing mental toughness. People with mental toughness have the edge over others who don’t. They are strongest when demands on them are the greatest and the conditions are at their worst.
Do what you love and enjoy every minute of it.
Sure, working out can be tough, but it still can be fun. Getting into shape shouldn’t be a punishment. Whether you alternate between the gym and something active you love, like biking, hiking, swimming or dancing or whether you simply love working out in a group or the joy you feel when you accomplish a fitness goal, savor every minute. You’ll do better in life when your life’s work is something you love and you throw your whole heart into it, just as you will when you learn that getting fit and staying should be fun.
- All you can do is your best, never compare yourself to another. If you’re giving 100%, eventually the best you can give will be even better. Don’t compare your performance with any one’s, just work to improve yourself.
- Surround yourself with like minded people that are also geared toward success. In the gym, like in life, enthusiasm is contagious and can drive you toward success.
- Your results in both life and the gym depend on the amount of effort you put into getting them. That doesn’t mean you can’t love what you’re doing, it just means you have to work hard.
- Consistency is important and pays big dividends. To achieve anything you must work at it regularly.
There are a number of herbs and spices that help cut calories by boosting the flavor and nutritional value of a food, without boosting the calorie count. For a long time there have been herb mixtures on the market to replace table salt, which also add to the flavor without adding to the calorie count. You don’t have to buy a premixed selection, you can do the same thing with a few extra steps. Not only do some herbs add flavor to what otherwise was a plain Jane diet meal, some actually increase the calories you burn.
Spice up the food with hot peppers and get a boost to your weight loss program.
Add a little cayenne pepper to your food and you’ll feel the heat. That’s what happens when you sprinkle some on your food. It creates heat in your body and raises the body’s temperature. By doing that it also increases your metabolism. In fact, it’s been noted that adding it to a meal may even help you burn up as much as an extra 100 calories. It’s easy to do and can be quite delicious. Consider adding it to your favorite veggie dip or salad dressing. Soups taste more filling with a little kick, too.
Turmeric helps you burn more calories.
Turmeric is often used in Indian dishes and has some remarkable health benefits that come with it. It’s an anti-inflammatory spice that can boost heart health and help ease the pain of arthritis, while aiding acne when used externally as a paste. It’s been suggested it might even help slow Alzheimer’s disease. One study from Tufts University in 2009 showed that mice fed curcumin, the main compound in turmeric, actually lost more weight than their counterparts that had the same diet, sans the turmeric. It also helps prevent hormonal bloating.
Add a little cinnamon for delicious flavor.
I love the flavor of this delicious spice and use it in many things, from spicing up plain yogurt to adding flavor to meats. Cinnamon helps you balance your blood sugar and reduces cravings. When it’s added to a dish, it also keeps you feeling fuller longer. Since it helps regulate glucose metabolism, it lowers high blood sugar levels that can lead to fat storage, helping you to lose weight and preventing the creation of fat.
- Cumin has many uses and is often found in Mexican, Indian and Middle Eastern food. It’s shown to help burn up to three times more body fat when just one teaspoon is added to one of your meals each day.
- Ginger not only is good in aiding digestion and relieving stomach aches, it also helps control blood sugar, acting much like cinnamon does.
- Not only can garlic keep vampires away—and some romantic partners at bay as well—it can also help you lose weight. One animal study showed mice with garlic added to their diet lost more weight in seven weeks than mice that didn’t have garlic added.
- You’ve got a diet aid in every restaurant and home in the form of black pepper. Not only does it add extra nutrients, it also can prevent fat cells from forming.
It’s the perfect time to get swimsuit ready for the summer and achieve the look that will make you happy to put on your favorite bikini or swimwear. While you may not reach your ultimate fitness goal, no matter what your present fitness level, you can look far better in just a few months, but it won’t be easy. In fact, it will take dedication and hard work, which will prove to be the best investment of time for both your appearance and good health.
Start with healthier eating habits.
Learn how to make smarter choices when it comes to food. Instead of making a sandwich with bread, cut out some of the extra carbs by creating a lettuce wrap. Skip that candy bar and indulge in some fresh fruit for your mid day snack. Get healthy protein and fat by eating lean meat, deep sixing the skin on fowl and enjoying salmon as an option. When you eat healthier, you also make smart choices in how the food is cooked and make sure you have plenty of veggies throughout the day.
Start a workout program.
Of course, I’m going to recommend you work with a trainer, but for some very important reasons. Trainers not only create a program designed specifically for your needs, they also help to motivate you to continue your workout. A trainer holds you accountable for your progress and is at the gym waiting, which adds incentive to going. Trainers also show you how to do each workout and watch to ensure you do it right. Most of all, a trainer has the knowledge to help you reach your goals quickly, so you’ll see the results faster and faster results always motivate. Trainers can also help you learn how to eat healthier, if you need help in that area, too.
Stick to the workout plan and expect it to get harder as you get fitter.
When you workout, you’re pushing your body to go to another level of fitness. Most people fail to adjust their workout based on that new level. That’s another reason working with a personal trainer can be so helpful. The trainer tracks your performance and identifies your improvement, then adjusts the workout t reflect that improvement. You’ll always work your hardest, but that’s when you see the changes faster. Some trainers offer group sessions where you get all the benefits of a trainer at a fraction of the price.
- Drink plenty of water. Not only will you perspire more, drinking more water has health benefits and can help prevent bloating. Bloating is NOT what you want when you’re working hard to achieve the perfect bathing suit body.
- Get adequate sleep. The right amount of sleep is important to a healthy body, but it also can boost weight loss and exercise results. If you’re tired, you’re more apt to crave high calorie, sugar filled treats and put less effort into your workout.
- Get more active. What you do in the gym is important, but so is the rest of the day. If you work at a desk job, get away from the computer for a while and walk up and down the stairs, across the room or do some stretches in your cubicle or office.
- Walk like a winner. One thing that exercising does is improve your posture, but you can help it along. Not only should you walk with your head held high, sit with your feet flat on the floor, back straight and shoulders back. Good posture helps you feel better, relieves back pain and makes you look thinner.