Stress Less and Sleep More

Resolutions Friday Fit Tip with Stacey - New Heart Fitness, Belle Fourche SD
31 Aug

I believe there are two huge components of being healthy that are overlooked and under valued. Can you guess what they are?

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Did you guess STRESS and SLEEP?  If so, you are right!

I think stress and sleep aren’t a huge focus for people as often as they should be because, they are harder to control and we can’t easily see the results from them. Versus with diet and exercise we can see that we lift more weight, run faster or fit into a smaller size.

Also, often if we improve our diet and increase our exercise routine, we usually sleep better and feel better, which then in turn helps reduce our stress levels.  So, I think there are lots of reasons we focus on those other aspects.  But, we can’t ignore the affect that stress and sleep have on our health and how they go hand in hand! If you sleep better, your stress levels are better.  But on the flip side, if you stress more, you sleep worse. 

Do you also know how bad stress and poor sleep affects your body?  These two things combined, over time, can attribute to high blood pressure, increased resting heart rate, depression, poor concentration, weight gain, unwanted weight loss, low sex drive, weak immune system, anxiety and other illnesses, just to name a few.  I believe stress combined with poor sleep is the #1 cause some of my clients are unable to lose weight and feel healthy despite their efforts in the gym and trying to improve their diet! 

Now you may be thinking,  “Well, that’s just GREAT!  So how do I stress less?”
I suggest doing what works for YOU!  Even just 5 minutes a day of “me time” can make a huge difference even on the busiest of days! Here’s some ideas: do a bible study, take a walk, listen to music, workout, hang out with friends, yoga, meditation… etc.  There are lots of ways you can destress.

Make slow, simple changes at first.  We don’t want you stressing out over trying to stress less!  Everything is a balance.  So while it may be easier to focus on the diet and exercise part, don’t forget about these other pieces of the health puzzle.

Oh and hey, here’s one more idea to improve your sleep… put that phone down and go to bed earlier! Once you get into a better routine you will learn to love waking up more rested!
Stress Less and Sleep more

-Stacey

Defeat Back Pain For Good

Defeat Back Pain For Good
24 Aug

 

Almost everyone has felt the uncomfortable and often times immobilizing feeling of low back pain, it is so common that 80% of people will feel low back pain at some point in their lives and some of those become chronic low back pain. Low back pain can be caused by an injury or strain, lifting something heavy with a rounded back, or twisting with something heavy are common causes of low back injury and usually heal over time. Some individuals end up with severe cases of low back pain caused by herniated or degenerated discs which can cause crippling pain.

If you have known me for a while or read my past fit tips you have heard me talk about my life long struggle with back pain. At times in my life I have had periods of intense low back pain that lasted for weeks and seemingly no amount of Ibuprofen or Chiropractor visits seemed to even help. But there is hope, whenever I feel my back pain come on again now I just do a few simple things and it is gone within a few days and sometimes even instantly!

Perhaps one of the most common causes for low back pain is something called Lower Cross Syndrome, this is simply a condition involving a combination of tight/ over-active and weak/ under-active muscles working against each other. This happens when someone has tight and over-active hip flexors and lumbar extensors pulling against weak and under-active Gluteus Maximus muscles and weak abdominal muscles. This causes the cross in the name Lower Cross Syndrome. Knowing the cause of the cross I just explained, the solution is actually quite simple, you activate and strengthen the under-active muscles, and you tone down the over-active ones.

My first recommendation if you have chronic and severe back pain issues is always to seek out a knowledgable professional like a Physical Therapist that can help you find long term relief and help to determine that you don’t have a more serious problem. For many people I have found that a simple sequence of exercises can do wonders for low back pain. One option is to come by the gym and ask for Jesse and a free fitness assessment and a quick rundown of these exercises “wink, wink” but here’s my best attempt at describing it for you to try at home!

The first step is to tone down the over active muscles. Now you will need one tool for this step and that is a Foam Roller, if you don’t have one of these I strongly recommend getting one. There are thousands of options and they are available at most chain stores like Walmart or Shopko and of course online. I recommend starting with a softer and longer foam roller if you haven’t done this before as very tight muscles can be a bit painful to roll over at first.

– Once you have your foam roller you simply lie down on it belly down with the roller on the front of your thighs, you simply “roll” over your legs until you find a tight and painful spot. Once you find the spot (trust me you’ll know) STOP Rolling, sit on the tender spot for at least 30 seconds up to one minute or until you feel a release in that muscle it will become less painful to have pressure on that spot. Find at least two spots then move on to the next area, now roll a bit to the outside of your leg and work on whats called the TFL muscle, its a smaller muscle I like to call the hip pocket muscle, it resides just below your hip bone about where your front pockets would be in a pair of jeans. It will be very easy to find tender spots here if you have tight hips.

– Now that you worked out that tension its time to stretch those short muscles out. You just need two simple stretches, first is the quad stretch. Chances are you have done this stretch before to stretch out your thigh muscles. Start by standing up straight with a wall or chair to help keep your balance, grab one leg by your foot and hold it. One common mistake is to pull hard or pull your leg away to get a better stretch, instead just tilt your pelvis backwards by drawing your belly button in and squeezing your glutes, hold this stretch for 30 seconds to one minute or until you feel the tension in those muscles release. Next we will stretch that TFL and the rest of the hip flexors with a kneeling hip flexor stretch, you start by just getting down on one knee and again tilting your pelvis backwards. You will probably already feel the stretch once you do this, a common mistake with this stretch is to lean forward to feel the stretch more. Just keep your pelvis tilted back to feel the stretch, to target the TFL you can raise the arm on the side of the knee that’s down and turn your torso slightly to the back. To intensify this stretch more you can bend your body away or just hike your hip out ever so slightly. It sounds like a lot of motions to remember, I like to joke with my clients and say “just hold your tongue right and you’ll get it” It may take a few tries to master but once you “feel” the stretch where you need it, you won’t forget. Again hold the stretch for 30-60 seconds or until you feel the release.

– Next we activate those under-active sitting muscles with a few simple exercises. First is the leg raise: start by lying down on your belly you can rest your head on your hands in front of you. The exercise is simple, you just lift your leg! But first, you have to hold your tongue right to target the right muscle! To do this you extend your foot by pointing your toes, keep your knees straight by contracting your quads (thigh muscles) now raise your leg up and slightly away from your body. You should feel this instantly right in your Glute muscle. You do not need to raise your leg very far, if you feel a pinch in your back, you are raising your leg too far, keep the quads tight and just pulse your leg up and down slowly about 20 times each leg.

– The next exercise is the Bridge. Now you turn to your back and lie down with your knees bent. You want to engage your core and protect your back by again drawing your belly button to the floor, this will rotate your pelvis backwards and straighten your lumbar spine. If you aren’t sure if you are doing it right, check by trying to fit your hand between the floor and your low back, if your back is flat and you can’t fit your hand under it you are good. Next, keep your core engaged and your pelvis tilted and drive your butt into the air and squeeze those Glutes! Stop once your body is straight, don’t over extend, you shouldn’t be able to if you’re squeezing hard! Hold at the top for a few seconds and then repeat up to 20 times. For a good challenge you can start doing this as an isometric exercise and see how long you can hold it. Once you can hold for a minute you are ready to graduate to harder exercises.

– Last you can tighten up your core with the best core exercise, Planks! Planks are pretty simple and you have probably at least seen them done if not done them yourself. Start on your belly and put your elbows on the floor with your arms bent. You want to stack your shoulders right over the elbows, now just raise up the rest of your body with your toes on the floor. The key here is to keep your back perfectly straight (its the back we are trying to help here right?) don’t try to make it easier by raising your butt up or sagging your back, this will be counter-productive and even hurt your back more. A trick to keeping your back straight and to help you hold the position is to again, squeeze your Glutes and your quads while you keep your belly button sucked in. Yea yea, I talk about squeezing Glutes a lot, get over it… its good for you trust me! just hold the plank for as long as you can, even if it’s 10-15 seconds just rest and do another set for 3-4 sets and just keep challenging yourself to hold longer.

Thats it, just do this sequence every day it shouldn’t take more than a 5-10 minutes. You can do it while you watch your favorite TV show and you’ll hardly even know you’re exercising! Trust me, from my own experience I know you can live pain free it just takes a little bit of work. The more you work, the better you will feel!

-Jesse-

Kids Health: Are You A Good Rolemodel

Kids Health: Are You A Good Rolemodel
17 Aug
Check out these staggering facts from healthychildren.org.

– Only 1 in 3 kids is physically active every day
– In sports practice, sports games, and P.E. class, less than 50% of the time spent in these activities involves moving enough to be considered physical activity

– Children and teens spend an average of 7 hours per day using some type of electronics for entertainment (YIKES!!)

– About 1 in 3 children in the U.S. are overweight or obese

PARENTS – you can play a key role in helping your child become more physically active by being a good role model.  When children regularly see their parents enjoying sports and exercise, they’re more likely to engage in these activities, too.

It’s easy to involve your child in your workout routine so that exercise becomes a natural part of their daily life.  For example, if you go for a run, your child can ride the bike alongside you.  Some kids are driven by competition, so you can set up your workout as a series of challenges.  Kids love to mimic, so let them do the workout right alongside you!  If you’re doing planks, encourage your child to do them with you!

Whatever you do, get your kids involved!  Building a habit of working out together will benefit everyone in the long run!
❤️ Danielle

Gyms and Classes are Scary

Resolutions Friday Fit Tip with Stacey - New Heart Fitness, Belle Fourche SD
10 Aug

Fall is coming and you know what that means? Kids go back to school. The weather cools off and soon the holidays and snow will be here!  Yep! Happens every year! Seasons change!  With this Fall season coming it might be important to think about your fitness program! Why? Well, because summer usually means more outdoor cardio type activities, which is great! But, as the weather changes those activities typically come to a halt!  SO… it is time to think about and plan ahead before the holiday bulge is looking your right in the face! Make plans to get inside and get on a program with a schedule! Do you have a plan?  Just sayin, you’re going to need a PLAN!

Everyone is different.  I’ve meet plenty of people who religiously workout at home by themselves everyday and that works great for them.  If that works for you, AWESOME!  But if you are like most American’s you won’t make yourself workout at home with a video or kettlebell and that holiday bulge will be looking you right in the face come January!  On the other hand there are a large number of people who buy the gym membership and never actually use it because they can’t talk a friend into going with them  and therefore they lack accountability. (I mean, you could be accountable to yourself, but what fun is that!)

So I highly recommend you TRY OUT A GROUP FITNESS PROGRAM FOR MOTIVATION!  There’s lots of advantages to joining a class but I’m not going to talk about the advantages just yet.  Because if you don’t get in the door the first time, you won’t ever get to the part where you feel all of the advantages!

Going into the unknown is never easy.  I get it… IT’S SCARY! But, I really do understand this! My first time going to Hot Yoga (just a few months ago) I was so nervous I thought I might  poop my pants in my car when I pulled into the parking lot,,,, Seriously! And I’m a legit “fitness person” so if you feel nervous to try a new class or even go to a new gym you are not alone!  Back to my hot yoga saga: I made it in the door without an accident, I survived my first VERY “HOT” yoga class and guess what?  I love it and now I go every week!  You have to be brave and WALK IN THE DOOR! Tell yourself “I’m a big kid now, I can do this!”

If your anxiety is high about starting a new gym or class I suggest calling ahead and make an appointment to meet with the owner or instructor.  Have them show you around, and explain to you what to expect. (On a side note, if they won’t meet with you and show you around for free I would try somewhere else!)

Ask questions, like “What do you want me to do right when I get here?”
“Then what do I do?”
“Is there a specific warm up?”
“How do you run your class?”
“What do I do if I can’t keep up or I need help?”
You can even ask where to put your shoes (you don’t wear your shoes on the hot yoga floor, Yikes!)

The first time doing anything can be nerve racking but it just might worth it! You might be like one of my clients.  I once had a brave young lady walk in and say “HI, I don’t do group fitness classes!”  She actually wanted me to write her workouts to do at home on her own.  But, I don’t do that for anyone until they have worked with me either in a class or 1-on-1, so I can see if they know what they are doing; so they don’t get hurt!  Long story short, she tried the two free classes that everyone gets (to get her assessment out of the way) and you guessed it… she’s still doing classes a year and half later! SHE LOVES lifting in a group setting now! She’s a positive leader in the group and I can’t imagine not having this sweet gal in my class!

What if joining a group workout class (or just joining a gym) could CHANGE YOUR LIFE?? What if!?

Now’s the time to seek out and try new fitness places in your area, so you are ready for fall!

YOU GOT THIS! Now go be brave!

❤ Stacey

Don’t Worry About Tomorrow

Don’t Worry About Tomorrow
09 Aug

“Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.” (Matthew 6:34)

Not only is it my favorite bible passage but, among all the sage advice in the history of humanity these words of Jesus have to be the wisest words ever spoken. For a fitness professional I think this advice is more than applicable for anyones’ health and fitness journey. This was a piece of advice I shared recently at our clean eating and weight loss seminar. Take each day one at a time. We all have bad days now and then. The difference between someone who is successful and someone who fails is that the successful ones keeps trying no matter how many times they stumble along the way. That’s why I tell anyone I work with, if you have a bad day just pick it up tomorrow and keep moving forward.

All too often in my own life I carried a defeatist mentality. I felt like the world was against me, at every turn I met failure after failure until I just stopped trying. It wasn’t until I was nearly 40 pounds overweight and riddled with bodily aches and pains that I decided to stop whining and start moving toward something better. There is only one direction in life, and that is forward. Your only other option is to do nothing at all. As we all know sitting around waiting for something to happen leads to nothing happening.

Just a few verses before this one is the question “Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?”
Not only is worrying not helpful, but it is actually counter productive. Worrying can halt your weight loss and fitness progress and even cause your body to enter stress mode and gain weight. We also know that worrying and stress is bad for your heart. A recent book I read about inflammation talks about avoiding inflammatory thoughts. When our mind is stressed, every single cell in our bodies reacts, and enters into a stress mode themselves. This contributes to chronic inflammation and more pain and more halted progress. In essence, worrying actually will take moments away from your lifespan. Sometimes its easier said than done but truly the best advice I can give anyone to keep their progress going is a simple as “Don’t worry about tomorrow”

Blessings,
Jesse