Wednesday, May 16, 2012

By popular demand....I'm back.

So I left....for a long time.  Why?  A few reasons.

1.  I actually hate writing.  I have nothing against it. Words are my friends....but I like better when they come out of my mouth and not my hands (though many times I wish there was a delete button for my mouth).   Also, I'm much funnier live. I like reading words written by others, don't get my wrong.  But writing has been a bit of a challenge for me my entire life.  Grammar is hard...OK??
2.  I'm not sure I love blogs.  There I said it.  Sometimes they are good.  Sometimes they stink.  They give a sounding board to anyone...whether they know what they are talking about or not (like me.  Do you really know if I know what I'm talking about???)
3.  Blogging makes me nervous.  I feel like I'm walking around in public naked and everyone is judging me.  "Oh, that's a bit much Sarah, don't you think?"  No.  I get nervous.  Especially walking around naked in public.  But that's another story for another day.

Today's topic?  Well, I had lots of thoughts.  They varied from talking about nutrient timing for runners' diets to "why are you squatting so poorly and please stop because it's driving me bonkers" to my favorite hamstring strengthening exercises (slideboard curls, if you are wondering).  However, if you aren't a fitness nerd like me sometimes this stuff just comes out "Blah, blah, blah....squat....blah, blah, blah...push-up....etc.".  So today I am talking about something that everyone needs to do when they walk into a group class at their gym, puts in an exercise DVD or even performs their own workout.


I see this over and over again....weight is too heavy, you are standing on 1-leg when you should be on two, you are throwing your legs over your head in yoga when your an barely even touch your toes.  It is human nature to compare ourselves to others.  It sucks but it's true.  The problem with this in a group exercise setting is that the person next to you is not you.  Whether you want to be like them, or not like them at all, they should not be your basis for comparison.  Nor should your instructor.  Whether it's me or Jillian Michael on your DVD.  I've many times done something in class and said "Look, I just cheated" or lost my balance a bit.  It happens to all of us.  I'm not perfect.  You're not perfect.  Even Jillian Michaels isn't perfect (ok, maybe a little bit.)

I say it almost every class to my students.  Check your ego at the door.  Whether it's because you want to lift more than the person next to you or you want to lift more because you want bigger biceps....there is something to be said to doing sometime simple correctly than doing something fancy completely wrong.  Listen to your instructors and ask their advice.  That is what we are here for.  We are there to help you get stronger, faster, lose weight, etc and MOST importantly we are there to keep you safe.  If your instructor at a class is more concerned with his/her workout then helping you, that may not be the best class to go to.  If you are corrected in class, that is a GOOD thing.  I go to other people's classes and get corrected (see, not perfect).  I like that.

With all this you may ask, but how do I know when to challenge myself?  That's a great question.  I was in a yoga class the other day where our instructor encouraged us to try the next level of a pose.  She said "What's the worst that could happen?  You fall out of it?  It's yoga, not brain surgery."  I'm in no way saying don't try a harder variation or heavier weight, just focus on your form and make sure you have mastered level 1 before moving onto level 2.  Again, that's what you have those happy, nice and smiley instructors like me for.
(See that last sentence?  I'm pretty sure I ended it in a preposition and I believe that's against the grammar rules.  I told you this writing stuff is hard.  I like science.)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Some useful information....FINALLY!

Hello my blog readers!  Here is a great site I can across while reading the book Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald.  As soon as I'm finished reading, I will write a blog about it....because so far, it is AWESOME.  Until then, check out this site from the Lance Armstrong Foundation:

It is a great way to keep track of your food well as your exercise. 

If you are looking for a way to lose weight, tracking your food is a fantastic way.  It holds you accountable for what you are putting into your body each day.  If you have never done it before, I highly suggest it (whether trying to lose weight or not). 

 The My Plate portion of the Livestrong page is great because many of us live on our computers, iPhones or iPads these days and don't want to tote along a notebook and calorie counter around.  It's all in one spot here.  The site also helps you set goals and provides recipes.

If you are new or returning to food tracking/logging/journaling, here is my one tip...don't get discouraged.  Whether you can't find EXACT nutrition information or if you forget/don't want to log one day, IT IS OK!  Just come back to it.  A great point Matt Fitzgerald makes in is book is that we are fairly consistent in our eating habits.  So if we skip a day, NO BIG!  It's probably somewhat similar to the day before.  And if you splurged....oh well!  Also, if you are not completey accurate with your totals, it's OK.  Just do the best you can.  The online tracking sites improve accuaracy, but nothing (and no one) is perfect.  So just relax and do the best you can....that's all we can do!

Check it out!

Don't Drop Your Weights, Talk on Your Cell Phone and Rules to Live By At The Gym

I have worked and been to many, many gyms.  Here is a list of general etiquette rules you may not see on a wall or in your membership handbook....but words to live by to not be "That Guy/Girl" while working out.

1.  Don't drop your weights on the floor.  Just....don'  If they are too heavy for you to put down when you finish your last rep, you probably shouldn't be using that heavy a weight anyway.  If, for some reason, you do need that heavy a weight....ask someone for help.  This also goes for machines with weight plates....don't clank them loudly during/after your set.  Not only will you keep a sense of anonymity in the gym, you won't break the machines.

2. Get off your phone, you are not that important. OK, if you have an emergency, answer the phone and politely remove yourself from the workout area to take your call.  That is totally acceptable.  NOT acceptable?  Chatting away while working out.  It's rude to everyone around you.  And honestly?  No one wants to hear your conversation.  In the gym or elsewhere.  Inside voices, please.... "less noise, more poise."

3.  Be nice to the gym employees.  Guess what?  We're people, too.  We want to like you and you want to like us, so let's make this happen. (On a side note, please do not hit on us.  If you are a member of the opposite sex and like us, ask to talk to us outside of the gym.  It's more tactful and professional.)

4. Ask Questions....  That's right....ask!  If you aren't sure what a machine does or how you should do an exercise, ask one of the trainers!  That is what we are here for.  I would rather spend time telling you to NOT curve your back during a 1-arm dumbbell row than watch you lift a weight that is too heavy for you while arching your back.  It hurts me to watch it.  And guys, it hurts me more when you don't know that I know what I'm doing.  If you can't handle a weight with proper form you have to....gasp!...lower the weight!  You'll thank me when you try to walk tomorrow.

5.  Sharing is Caring.  Yep, just like in kindergarten.  Share machines, share equipment, ask someone if you can "work in".  Trust me, it's reasonable, acceptable and just a nice thing to do.  And hey, who knows, maybe you will meet a new workout buddy! 
Real life example: You are doing 55 sets of the leg press (OK, I am exaggerating.  If you really are doing 55 sets of leg presses, we have another whole issue) and decide to leave your towel on the machine while you walk away, grab some water, check some magazines, check yourself out in the mirror, get more get it.  Remove your towel and take it with you.  It's considerate!

6.  Clean up after yourself.  I'm not your Mom.  I don't want to be your Mom.  So please don't treat me like it.  I do not want to pick up your weights, magazines, empty water bottles, towels, nor tissues off the gym floor.  If you would like me to pick those things up, feel free to ask me to be your maid and pay me as such.  Otherwise, please just follow general etiquette rules.

I hope this is helpful (and maybe a little funny) to those new to the gym.  Or to those who have gone for a while....a nice refresher.  Just remember, be nice, be clean and have fun!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

When Your Life Comes Full Circle....Not Really, But Let's Pretend

Ok, so my life has not come full circle yet....but I did have an "A-Ha" moment not too long ago.   I'm guessing that if you are reading this, you know me....otherwise, I am sorry you have spent your time finding my blog.  Since you know me, you know I am a personal trainer who likes to run, workout and also eat and drink beer.  Therefore, I don't so much look like the trainers you see on TV.  Am I in good shape?  Hell yes.  Do I have a six pack?  Only if you count the one of Miller Lite in my fridge....but I digress...back to my full circle moment.

So, you know me.  Remember in elementary school gym class when you were up in the front, picking your teams for (insert random sport here -- kickball, dodgeball, baseball)?  I was that chubby girl in the back in stirrup pants and a big sweater (jeans always made me feel fat...which I kinda was).  I not only looked like I was bad at sports, I was.  What you didn't know, was that even though I looked like a out of shape clutz, I somehow managed to be a pretty darn good figure skater, if I do say so myself.  But that's another story for another post (we'll call that one "Sequins, tights and Why Lycra Should Never Be Made in Neon).  So, when push came to shove and it was me and that kid who kind of drooled and didn't wash his picked him.  Yep, I was the last kid picked in gym class.  

I know. There are a lot of us. I have heard others with the same story. Know what's funny?  We all still tell it.  Over 20 years later, I still remember being embarrased in gym class on the day we all got weighed and our gym teacher would yell, "Well, Sarah had __ number of donuts today" This was his announcement of our weight to the whole class.  My number of donuts, while not the highest, was definitely on the higher side of the class. Not terrible, but enough that I still remember that happening. 
Oh yeah, and that mile run we had to do in the 6th grade...I could barely finish.  I can't remember if I did, but I know I had a bad time and I still remember feeling embarassed.  The moment I finished my first marathon I wanted to call Mr. Duclos (yep, still remember his name) and yell "HA!  SEE?!  You may have ignored me and thought I wasn't very good at sports but I can run a marathon!  HA!"  I also know, I'm not the only one who was a chubby kid and never got over it.  Maybe one day I will.  But hopefully not soon because I think it makes me work a little bit harder (but maybe not eat less chips and salsa).

Back to the I was at the beach with 20+ college friends recently.  Was it awesome?  Yes.  Not just because we were at the beach, but because it was a collection of old, kind of old and some new friends who were just happy to hang out with each other and have some fun (and drink a few beers).  So one morning, there we are on the deck and I hear people calling names for football (a game we never actually played).  It was a draft.  F'.  I didn't want to get picked last.  Now, while I didn't really pay all that much attention, I do know, that I did NOT get picked last (I'm not really sure anyone got picked last, to be honest, we all got assigned teams, but the reasoning for my choosing was what really stuck with me).  You see, most of my college friends don't know I'm a fraud!  They hear "Sarah runs marathons" and "Sarah is a personal trainer", so they think I'm actually good at this stuff!  Jokes on them...I'm not!  I still suck at sports.  I can run 26.2 miles in less than a day, but if you want me to catch a football while running down a field,  I am not sure that I can.  Throw a football?  Even worse. But I got picked and had to be split up from my friend....let's call her Mindy...because we were the runners in the group.  I was pretty pumped because one thing Mindy is good at, besides running, is football.  She plays a lot and she dominates.  I don't play and don't dominate.  But I got compared to her, and for me, it was like I got picked first in the "draft." 
It's funny that I care.  It's funny that I remember this.  If anyone could care less if I was good at football, it's these people.  Hence, why they are great friends.  If I didn't suck in my gut at the beach, they still would have sat with me.  But it got me to thinking....maybe I'm a little bit better than I thought?  Maybe I'm not so much a fraud?  Yeah, I still won't be good at football, however, I may just look the part of what I do.  I may look like I make people exercise for a living.  To the girl in the back of the gym class who was just plain scared to be there....this is a pretty big thing.