Monthly Archives: March 2015

March 2015

Jason Fitzgerald is a 2:39 marathoner and USATF-certified running coach at Strength RunningGet his latest coaching advice and free injury prevention course here. The views expressed herein are his and his alone.

Run at your peak!

I’m an overnight success, but it took me 20 years.” — Monty Hall

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’d love to run fast with no injuries and always be consistent with my training”?

I think we all have. The sense of achievement we feel for being consistent is powerful stuff.

Indeed, consistency is what I like to call the “secret sauce” of good training. It unlocks faster race times, fewer injuries, and more motivation in the runners that I coach.

But how do you continue to grow as a runner? What should you do to stay motivated and progressing toward your goal of healthier, faster running?

Today, I want to explain the running principles that have helped me run more than ever in the past three years — with not one major injury. These are the same strategies that help my runners achieve dramatic breakthroughs in their performance while staying injury-free.

The Tortoise Always Wins

We’ve all heard the fable of the Tortoise and the Hare: Even though the hare is obviously faster, the tortoise won the race because he never gave up and persevered to the end.

The same is true with running. Results come after months — and years — of hard work and consistent training. There are no magic workouts or secret training principles that will propel you to age-grouper celebrity status in just a few weeks.

While it’s not sexy to admit, good training is typically boring: consistent (relatively) high mileage, a solid long run, and 1-2 faster workouts per week. The “secret sauce” I mentioned before is this pattern, repeated week after week for years.

No multi-month layoffs. Just running, almost every day. I told you it wasn’t sexy!

But when you make running a habit, you’ll soon discover that your runs get a little easier. Your 5K pace might become your 10K pace. Before you know it, you’ve taken a half hour off your marathon and you’re eyeing a Boston Qualifying time. That’s the stuff motivation is made of.

3 Keys to Long Term Planning

Alright, you’ve seen how long-term thinking can benefit your running. But how exactly do you get so consistent?

There are three important ways to make running a permanent habit — something you “just do” instead of always planning to do, but never get around to.

1. Injury-Proof Yourself with Regular Strength Work.

The benefits of strength exercises for runners are undeniable: They increase strength, correct imbalances, and strengthen important muscles that are inherently weak in runners (like the glutes and hips).

(Here’s how to schedule and plan your strength workouts. No gym needed!)

Injury prevention is so critical that it’s the primary way to develop as a runner. You can’t accomplish anything significant if you’re always hurt and missing your workouts. Invest in 20 minutes a day of core and strength work and in a few weeks you’ll notice the difference.

Soon, you’ll feel “off” if you skip it. Injury prevention work will become second nature and a natural extension of the run itself.

2. Connect with Other Runners

No runner should train alone all the time. The advice and encouragement of other runners can help you stay motivated and energized.

Humans are social animals and the running community is large and thriving — especially online. Join a training site like dailymile, sign up with your local running club, or hire a running coach who can write a custom training plan personalized to your goals and history.

A subtle but powerful benefit of being part of a running community is that social pressure leads us to conform. Your behavior and mindset are heavily influenced by the people you hang out with. Are you hanging out with any runners?

3. Think in Months, Not Weeks or Days

Successful runners know it’s taken years to get where they are today. There wasn’t one particular workout or mega-week of mileage that catapulted them to greatness. Instead, it’s the gradual accumulation of fitness over months and years.

To take advantage of this principle, it’s helpful to plan backwards from your goal race. If you give yourself less than four months before a marathon or half marathon, you’re probably rushing yourself. Remember: Even the most perfect plan must be changed so give yourself extra time to prepare.

It’s also helpful to think in terms of monthly mileage instead ofweekly mileage. Why? It forces you to be more conservative and prevents dramatic jumps in volume that might tempt you to fall prey to the three too’s (too much, too soon, too fast).

If you think that “I just need to run 40 miles a week” and you’re only used to 20 per week, that increase is much too large! Instead, build to 30 miles per week over a month or two, then stay there for a few months. It’s safer and you’ll still reap big endurance rewards for boosting your mileage by 50 percent.

Patience always prevails.

When in Doubt, Sit It Out

Lifelong runners know that they’ve patiently executed their running consistently month after month, sometimes for decades. It’s become a natural part of their day, like brushing their teeth.

Success is a long-term endeavor. Successful running and fast racing can’t be rushed.

If you’re ever in doubt about an injury, a particular workout, or the length of a long run, don’t be afraid to scale it back or take the day off. Good runners listen to their body and don’t hurry the adaptation process.

When you rush your fitness and push beyond your capabilities, the injury cycle will persist and consistency will be just a pipe dream. Who wants that?

These principles will help make you healthier and, in the long run (ha, running pun!), a faster runner. Motivation is born from consistent improvement. You have the framework — now go have fun with it!


March 2015

Eyes on the Prize!

Time to Get Focused

Training for a goal, whether it’s a 500lb deadlift, getting ripped for a photo shoot, or dunking a basketball is a surefire way to increase focus and take your fitness to another level. All of a sudden your trips to the gym go from “Ugh, I guess I’ll get my workout in” to “I need to hit 257 pounds on my bench press today if I’m going to stay on track to nail 315 at the meet.” But achieving a goal doesn’t just happen. You need to take the proper steps first. Namely, setting the goal and putting a plan in place.

Ready, Set, Goal

Setting a goal seems like it should be a one step process. Look super-hot in time for my high school reunion or hit a height of 19 feet in the Pole Vaulting Nationals. But if your thought process is to simply skip right to the end game, chances are you’ll never get there. You need to find a connection to the goal and be able to put a plan in place. Here’s how you get that done.

Step 1: Where Do You Want to Go?

This is the big picture, blue sky, pot-of-gold-at-the-end-of-the-rainbow that you’ll ultimately be looking to achieve. You can’t be wishy-washy. In fact, you have to be really specific. Goals such as “I want to look better on my wedding day than my bitchy Cousin Janet looked on hers” are way too vague (and, to be honest, a bit messed up).

“I want to be 16 percent body fat by my wedding on April 19th.”

“I want to lower my triglyceride numbers by 20 percent at my next doctor visit.”

“I want to qualify for the regional Judo competition next fall.”

These are all great goals as they are specific and measurable. The only caveat is that they do have to fall into the realm of actually being possible and realistic. So don’t make the mistake of setting the goal of becoming the UFC Middleweight Champion before you even have your first fight. Think in terms of smaller steps first that will ultimately lead you to that big goal. This is commonly referred to as “shrinking the change.” Now that you have a specific goal, write it down on a piece of paper, fold it up and place it under the refrigerator. Because once you set it, it’s no longer your focus—figuring out what you have to do to reach your goal is where your head needs to be.

Step 2: What Do You Have to Do to Get There?

Winning a Judo tournament or losing seven percent body fat may be specific, achievable goals but there is one problem with them: They are out of your control. You have no say over what your competition may be doing to prepare for that same Judo tournament. Nor do you have control over how your body will react to the new diet and nutrition plan you have put in place in order to drop fat. So rather than getting fixated on the finish line, it’s time to focus on the behaviors that are in your control. Are you going to the gym five times per week? Are you drilling that new takedown technique that your coach showed you? Have you been keeping a food journal and emailing it to your nutritionist for analysis? You can only control whatever is actually in your control. Unfortunately, this is where most people fall down. These behaviors are the true work behind accomplishing your goals and can take a lot of effort without a lot of immediate reward. Going to the gym at 5 a.m. is hard. Resisting Doris-in-Accounting’s “world famous” banana bread every time you pass her desk is challenging. Getting punched in the face during daily sparring is painful. But establishing and repeating these behaviors is what it takes to get you where you want to go. Hey, no one said achieving your goals would be easy.

Step 3: Find an Emotional Connection

This is the stuff that will actually get you out of bed when the alarm sounds at 4:30 a.m. and get you sweating over a hot stove preparing meals on Sunday nights. You have to discover the personal significance behind your goals. If you’ve noticed that you are getting out of breath every time you walk up the stairs to go to bed at night,that fear can certainly motivate you to make some changes. If going to the gym and working with a trainer twice a week means you’ll be able to pick up your newborn granddaughter, you better believe you are going to be keeping those appointments. We are stuck in a statistical, pragmatic world that focuses so much on numbers and finish lines (I want to make this much money, I want to weigh this much) that we often lose the connection to why we actually want those things. Find that connection. Having the energy and mobility to play with your grandchild will always carry more value than seeing the scale go down by a few pounds and will get you out of bed instead of hitting snooze.

Step 4: Find the Man With the Plan

Now that you know what it is you want to do, the behaviors required to get it done and why it’s important to you, it’s time to establish a plan. Of course, what the plan should be is completely dependent on the individual goal. I cannot emphasize enough how hiring an experienced professional can be invaluable in helping you devise a plan. Great coaches and teachers who have helped others attain similar goals know what it takes to get you where you want to go. Doing the work is hard enough in and of itself. So hire a pro to map out the path, make changes when needed, be a sounding board, and help keep you honest and accountable. It may cost you a bit of money, but the time, effort, and mental energy you’ll save in the long run will be well worth it.


March 2015
Come on Rock!

When putting together your workout routine, the first major component you need to figure out is your exercise frequency. As in, how often and how many times should you workout per week?

Now, I’ll admit… that’s a pretty broad question. After all, terms like “exercise frequency” and “workout frequency” can have a ton of different meanings.

But for us though, here’s the 3 specific exercise frequencies that we need to care about most:

  • Overall Exercise Frequency: How often and how many times will we do any form of exercise (weight training, cardio, etc.) per week?
  • Weight Training Frequency: How often and how many times will we weight train per week?
  • Muscle Group/Body Part Frequency: How often and how many times will we train each muscle group or body part per week?

The main exercise frequency missing from that list is cardio frequency, but seeing as this is a guide to putting together the best weight training workout routine possible, cardio is a topic we’ll get to in depth at some other time (don’t worry, a cardio-specific guide is already on my to-do list).

For now, let’s focus on those 3 extremely important frequencies.

Overall Exercise Frequency

So, the first thing we need to decide on is how many times we will workout per week total. This would include weight training workouts, cardio workouts, whatever. It’s our overall exercise frequency.

Now, this is the one that can vary the most because it depends on many factors specific to you and your goal (example: a fat person with the primary goal of losing fat may have 4 cardio workouts per week, while a skinny person with the primary goal of building muscle may do no cardio whatsoever).

Because of this, it’s impossible to say exactly how often/how many times everyone should be working out per week total.

However, there is 1 general rule I can pretty much definitively set in terms of everyone’s overall exercise frequency.

And that rule is: take at least 1 full day off per week from all forms of exercise.

That means, AT THE VERY MOST, you should be exercising 6 times per week total (and again, this includes weight training, cardio, and any other form of exercise).

I’m setting this rule because I am pretty confident that there is no one reading this that needs to be or would benefit from working out 7 days a week.

In fact, I’d say that there are many people reading this who should set their maximum total exercise frequency at between 3-5 times per week depending on their goal.

Why? Because it’s not only NOT necessary for reaching your goal… it’s almost always counterproductive.

Weight Training Frequency

While too many individual factors come into play for me to get super specific about overall exercise frequency, weight training frequency is the opposite. I can get pretty damn specific here.

If it isn’t obvious enough, weight training frequency in this case will refer to how often and how many times we weight train per week.

My recommendation is: the majority of the population should weight train 3-4 times per week, and never more than 2 consecutive days in a row.

Some people can get away with 5 (although few truly need it), and some people can get by with 2. However, for most of the people, most of the time, you’ll get your best results with either 3 or 4 total weight training workouts per week.

This is based on the fact that the majority of the most highly proven and intelligently designed workout programs in existence are all built around doing 3 or 4 weight training workouts per week.

The same goes for having no more than 2 weight training workouts on back-to-back days.

These recommendations appear to create the sweet spot in terms of allowing for optimal recovery, and when recovery is at its best, your results will be at their best too.

Muscle Group/Body Part Frequency

And last but definitely not least, we have muscle group/body part frequency.

Out of all the different exercise frequencies, how often and how many times you should train each muscle group or body part per week is by FAR the most discussed, argued, thought about, screwed up, and potentially confusing one of them all.

That’s why I think the best way to fully explain it all is by taking a look at the pros and cons of each of the 3 most common muscle group/body part frequencies.

Those 3 frequencies are:

  1. Training each muscle group/body part once per week.
  2. Training each muscle group/body part twice per week.
  3. Training each muscle group/body part three times per week.


March 2015

You slather it on toast and stir it into smoothies. But did you know that honey is more than a tasty, convenient sweetener? It also contains unique healing properties.

“Honey is great medicine,” says naturopathic physician Shidfar Rouhani, N.D., D.C., a professor at Bastyr University School of Naturopathic Medicine in San Diego.

“It’s antibacterial and boosts the immune system,” he says. “When mixed with other botanicals, it strengthens them too.”

Here are 9 common ailments that often respond to this sweet treatment. Most people can safely take a tablespoon of honey in liquid every two hours. But if you have bleeding that won’t stop or preexisting health conditions such as diabetes, consult your doctor before prescribing yourself honey.

And take care with infants: Don’t give this or any remedy containing honey to anyone under 1 year old. That’s because honey can contain small amounts of the potentially deadly botulinim toxin, and a baby’s immune system isn’t strong enough to handle it.

Honey Remedy #1. Acne 
To dry up pimples and reduce facial redness, try this homemade honey mask:

1. Combine 1 tablespoon of honey with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and mix thoroughly.

2. Apply to your face for 20 minutes, and then rinse with warm water. (This and other remedies are described in Lifescript’s “12 Natural Skin Savers: Do They Really Work?”)

“Honey absorbs impurities from pores, making it an ideal cleansing agent,” explains Howard Sobel, M.D., a clinical attending physician in dermatology and dermatologic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital and Beth Israel Hospital in New York.

Honey Remedy #2. GERD (aka acid reflux or heartburn) 
Five milliliters, or about one teaspoon, of honey can create a soothing coating for the esophagus, protecting it from the effects of too much stomach acid, according to Dr. Rouhani.

“It’s an old pharmacist’s trick that addresses the cause of GERD,” he says.

This home remedy is safe to use for a week. But to prevent sugar spikes, which are especially unsafe if you have diabetes, consult your doctor about dosages after that period. A teaspoon of honey contains about 21 calories, or 5.71 grams of carbohydrates, according to the USDA.

Honey Remedy #3. Canker Sores 
Honey healed canker sores in just 4 days, while oral corticosteroids and an over-the-counter remedy each took 8 days, researchers at Saudi Arabia’s Salman bin Abdul Aziz University found in 2014. Each treatment was used on 94 people three times a day.

To try this remedy, wet a sterile cotton ball with water and wipe the canker sore clean. Then, apply a small amount of honey using a cotton swab; reapply several times a day until the sore disappears.

Honey Remedy #4. Coughs 
Sometimes you beat the flu, only to suffer from a lingering cough. A multiyear study of 100 people with a continuing cough reported that the following remedy was more effective than corticosteroids or cough syrups, according to a 2013 article in the Primary Care Respiratory Journal.

Mix ½ teaspoon of instant coffee granules with 2½ teaspoons of honey. Stir into 7 ounces of warm water. Drink three times a day.

Honey is a demulcent, meaning it coats your throat to soothe a cough, and caffeine dilates the bronchi in your lungs, which eases breathing.

Caution: For persistent coughs that last eight weeks or longer, check in with your doctor to rule out serious infections or causes, the Cleveland Clinic advises.

Honey Remedy #5. Eczema and Cradle Cap 
People with eczema are often bothered by patches of thickened skin, redness, oozing and itching. When similar areas appear on the scalp or face, they’re often called “cradle cap.”

But applying honey can ease the symptoms of both of these skin problems and prevent the growth of Staphylococcus aureas, a bacterium that commonly accompanies them and can make itching worse.

When more than 30 patients with itchy eczema areas received applications of crude (or mostly raw) honey every other day and left the treatments on for three hours, they reported that scaliness and itching isappeared in one week, and that their lesions had vanished in two weeks, according to a 2011 study in The Nurse Practitioner.

Honey Remedy #6. Influenza 
A New Zealand honey called Manuka, which is available here in health-food stores, may tame the flu and perhaps even prevent it, according to a 2014 study in the Archives of Medical Research.

“Our results showed that honey in general, but particularly Manuka honey, has potent inhibitory activity against the influenza virus, demonstrating medicinal value,” researchers concluded. Honey is believed to fight the flu and other viruses by increasing immune system chemicals and sending warrior cells to the areas where “bugs” are, Dr. Rouhani explains.

When added to echinacea or goldenseal tea, honey increases their immunity-boosting powers too.

Manuka honey is becoming overpriced and difficult to find as people hear about its health benefits. Dr. Rouhani suggests that other varieties of honey, including pasture (or clover) honey and raw or organic U.S.-produced strains, can offer similar protection.

If you have the flu, a tablespoon of honey can be safely taken every three hours by non-diabetic adults and children, along with anti-viral medications such as Tamiflu, and over-the-counter antihistamines or decongestants.

Honey Remedy #7. Insomnia 
Can’t sleep? Try dissolving a tablespoonful of honey in 8 ounces of warm milk for a tasty snooze tonic. For more flavor, add a drop of vanilla extract or a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Milk contains the hormone melatonin and the amino acid tryptophan, which both promote slumber.

And honey’s natural sugars raise insulin slightly, enabling tryptophan to enter the brain more easily, according to physician Lindsey Duncan, N.D., C.S.

Honey Remedy #8. Burns 
Smeared on a first- or second-degree burn, honey reduces healing time by up to 4 days in some cases, a 2008 review of studies suggests.

Honey drains moisture from bacterial cells and also contains hydrogen peroxide, both of which annihilate bacteria. It also may help prevent scars by laying a fresh blueprint for new skin to grow on.Honey Remedy #9. Cuts and scrapes 
To heal a wound, clean the area, then apply a dollop of honey under a bandage to sterilize and protect the injury from bacterial infection.

Manuka honey mends open wounds and may even prevent infections from developing in people who are susceptible to chronic wound infections, according to a 2012 study published in the journal Microbiology.

“It’s like nature’s Neosporin,” Dr. Rouhani says.

Honey’s antibacterial power results partly from its dense structure, which consists primarily of sugar in various forms, including glucose, sucrose and fructose.

This high sugar concentration pulls water out of any micro-organism that lands in it, Dr. Rouhani explains. “It literally sucks bacteria dry.”


March 2015
Milk and Cereal/Cereal and Milk

There’s good news for those of you who wake up to a bowl of cereal every morning, especially if your go-to choice is high in fiber. Hidden in that favorite box may be a prize better than a plastic toy. It just might hold the key to a longer life, according to a new study.

No, this study wasn’t done by Snap, Crackle or Pop. Tony the Tiger was not involved in the making of this research.

Some scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health have been researching the impact of cereal fiber on diet for years. They found that people who reported in surveys a diet rich in cereal fiber lived longer than those who chose less well in the morning. They had a 19% reduced risk of death, compared to those who ate the least amount of cereal fiber.

Crunching the numbers even further, the authors found that high fiber cereal eaters had a 34% lower risk of death from diabetes and a 15% reduced risk of death from cancer. People who ate a lot of whole grains and dietary fiber had a 17% lower risk of all-cause mortality.

Cereal fiber, they conclude, is one “potentially protective component” of a really healthy, premature death-preventing diet.

The study was published in the latest issue of BMC Medicine.

It drew from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study and included more than 566,000 AARP members ageds 50 to 71 from six states and two large cities. It excluded individuals who reported extreme-energy intake, which is common, since scientists believe these survey takers are not totally accurate in what they report. That left them with over 367,000 people.

This new study builds on others that have shown that cereal fiber and whole grains have apositive impact on your life if you want to avoid cancers, inflammation and obesity as well.

Does that mean that eating a daily bowl of your favorite purple horseshoe marshmallow-sprinkled cereal is doing your body right?

Well, don’t court the leprechaun quite yet, dietitians say. Those cereals have sugar among their top ingredients, so dietitians suggest you avoid those.

If you want to get the daily serving that these researchers say showed a difference in risk reduction, you need to eat at least 10.22 grams of cereal fiber per day based on a 1,000 kcal daily diet.

If you want to get your fill with just one serving of cereal, aim for those that have “fiber” in the title or list at least 10 grams of fiber per serving on the label. Fiber One lists 14g per serving. Kashi GoLean lists 10g. Mini-Wheats lists 8g.

If you can’t stand the taste of high-fiber cereals, don’t worry. Other popular cereals such as Cheerios have about 3g of fiber per serving, as do Honey Bunches of Oats. Oatmeal is a good source of fiber too.

Whole grains and regular dietary fiber also may help reduce your mortality risks, the study found, and those can be found in a large number of products.

Consider oatmeal or a non-high fiber cereal (3 to 5 grams), eat a piece of wheat bread (about 5 grams) or a whole wheat tortilla (about 5 grams). Black beans are a rich source for dietary fiber (19.5 grams). And add even some fruit like apples (a large one has 4.5 grams) or a half a cup of blackberries (4.4 grams) all of that would add up to this ‘higher’ total that may improve your odds of living a longer life.

And if you don’t want to spend hours reading labels at the grocery store, dietitian Lori Zanini said she tells her clients this fiber rule of thumb: “No animal product will naturally have this,” Zanini said. “Plants are where you should go to find fiber. It only comes from the cell walls of plants.”

Most Americans, she said probably don’t get the amount of cereal fiber or whole grains recommended as advantageous in this study. “But once you consciously seek it out, it does become easier,” Zanini said “And with the wide variety of ways you can get fiber into your diet it isn’t hard, especially if you know it may help your health.”

The operative word is “may,” study author Dr. Lu Qi said. Keep in mind the study looks at connections; it doesn’t show causality. To definitively show cereal is the key to long life, the professor at the Harvard medical school and Harvard’s school of public health said, you’d need a clinical trial that would look at this specific issue.

That said, Qi personally is a believer in the breakfast food. He said he eats cereal regularly to start his day. Harvard even provides breakfast for free to the faculty. And if it’s good enough for doctors at Harvard, they may just be on to something.


March 2015
massage benefits

There’s no denying a massage is calming — until you start feeling guilty for indulging in a little special treatment.

A small new study excuses us all from the guilt: Massage therapy isn’t just a way to relax, it’s also a way to alleviate muscle soreness after exercise and improve blood flow, according to the recent research.

Other benefits of massage have long been touted, but research is usually limited. Still, we think there are some pretty good reasons to book an appointment ASAP.

Massage can reduce pain.

A 2011 study found that massage helped people with low back pain to feel and function better, compared to people who didn’t get a rubdown. That’s good news for the eight in 10 Americans who will experience debilitating back pain at least once in their lives, reported.

“We found the benefits of massage are about as strong as those reported for other effective treatments: medications, acupuncture, exercise and yoga,” Dan Cherkin, Ph.D., lead author of the study, said in a press release.

Massage also seems to lessen pain among people with osteoarthritis.

It can help you sleep.

The calming treatment can also help you spend more time asleep, according to research from Miami University’s Touch Research Institute. “Massage helps people spend more time in deep sleep, the restorative stage in which your body barely moves,” the Institute’s founder Tiffany Field, Ph.D., told More magazine in 2012.

In one study of people with fibromyalgia, 30-minute massages three times a week for five weeks resulted in nearly an hour more of sleep, plus deeper sleep, she said.

Massage may ward off colds.

There’s a small body of research that suggests massages boost immune function. A 2010 study, believed to be the largest study on massage’s effects on the immune system, found that 45 minutes of Swedish massage resulted in significant changes in white blood cells and lymphocytes, which help protect the body from bugs and germs.

It could make you more alert.

At least one study has linked massage to better brainpower. In a 1996 study, a group of adults completed a series of math problems faster and with more accuracy after a 15-minute chair massage than a group of adults who were told to just sit in a chair and relax during those 15 minutes.

Massage may ease cancer treatment.

Among patients receiving care for cancer, studies have noted multiple benefits of massage, including improved relaxation, sleep and immune system function as well as decreased fatigue, pain, anxiety and nausea.

It may alleviate depression symptoms.

A 2010 review of the existing studies examining massage in people with depression found that all 17 pieces of research noted positive effects. However, the authorsrecommended additional research into standardizing massage as treatment and the populations who would most benefit from it.

Massage could help with headaches.

The power of touch seems to help limit headache pain. A 2002 study found that massage therapy reduced the frequency of chronic tension headaches. And in a very small 2012 study, 10 male patients with migraine headaches noted significant pain reduction after neck and upper back massage and manipulation. You may even be able to reap the benefits without seeing a professional: Start by applying gentle pressure with your fingertips to your temples, then move them in a circular motion along the hairline until they meet in the middle of your forehead, WebMD reported.

The stress reduction is scientific.

Between the dim lights, soothing music and healing touch, it certainly feels like stress melts away during a massage, but research suggests a very literal reduction of cortisol, a major stress hormone. Chronically high levels of cortisol can contribute to serious health issues, like high blood pressure and blood sugar, suppressed immune system function and obesity.

Ready to book an appointment? Click here!


March 2015
Get back in shape!

Has it been eons since you last worked out? Does the mere thought of hitting the gym make you break into a cold sweat? Good news: It’s never too late to get your body back into the swing of a regular fitness routine–or even get started! Rather than jumping into your workout regimen whole hog, consider yourself an athlete-in-training to attain your fitness goals. Here are some tips on how to be smart about getting into shape:

Get a trial gym membership. This will give you some free sessions with a trainer.  FIX Body Group is also offering a free fitness assessment and personal training session for those who are new to personal training.  Click here for more information. They can show you how to use all of the machines so you don’t end up flying off the treadmill or wrenching your back on a piece of equipment that you don’t know how to use. If solo workouts are more your style, check out a few trainers on YouTube to see which one clicks for you, then invest in a few of their DVDs. Workouts that are ideal for those just starting out or getting back into the swing: Walking,  gentle yoga, and toning. Make sure you find out what equipment you’ll need, which always includes supportive sneakers, and possibly a mat, and free weights.

Schedule your workouts. Put morning workouts on your calendar. Factoring workouts into your daily schedule is one of the keys for sticking to a program.

Plan your workout wardrobe.  Lay out or pack your workout clothes the night before (think head-to-toe: workout bra, comfy undies, top, bottom, socks, sneakers, and any outer layers you might need.)  If  you work out first thing, you can just throw on deodorant, and slip into your workout attire. If you’re heading to the gym at lunch or after work, then just grab your bag with everything ready to go. Not having to stress about what to wear will up your chances of you moving your body!

Alternate your workouts. I recommend changing off between 3 types of workouts: A muscle workout with weights on day 1; cardio-centric workout day 2; gentle yoga on day 3 (to help stretch your hard-working muscles). Each day you can add a few minutes or a few pounds of resistance.

Always warm up your muscles. If you’re working out at a gym, walk on the treadmill for 5 minutes to warm up, and then work out on “selectorized equipment”—machines that isolate one muscle group. Put the machines on the lowest or second-lowest weight, so you don’t stress your muscles or feel uber sore later. If you’re at home, warm up by doing one move at a time: bicep curls, tricep presses, shoulder lifts, kneeling push-ups or push-ups against the wall, upper back reverse flys, squats, and lunges. Start by doing 15 minutes a day and when you’re stronger you can incorporate multiple muscles and cardio intervals in the same workout. And of course, be sure to create create a music playlist that’s fast and fun to keep you motivated.


March 2015

This month’s top 10 workout songs cover a wide array of tempos and styles that will complement an equally diverse range of workouts. For low-rep exercises that strengthen your body — crunches, weights and so on — you might start with one of the slower tracks from David Guetta or Flo Rida. For a cardio routine — running, ropes, and the like — consider one of the faster numbers from alt-rock favorites Bleachers or club stars Yellow Claw.

If the feel is more important to you than the tempo, there are tracks spanning 100-128 beats per minute (BPM) and a variety of genres. The mix includes the latest confection from Maroon 5, a remix of Big Data’s crossover hit, and a collaboration between X Factor alumni Fifth Harmony and L.A. rapper Kid Ink.

There should be something here for every taste and routine. If you’re looking for a few new songs to spruce up your existing mix, you’re in luck. Alternatively, if you need a clean break, you can swap in this entire list — since it blends a variety of speeds and sounds that will get you moving and keep you guessing.

Here’s the full list, according to a poll on Run Hundred — the web’s most popular workout music blog.

  • David Guetta, Afrojack & Nicki Minaj – “Hey Mama” – 86 BPM
  • Flo Rida, Sage the Gemini & Lookas – “GDFR (K. Theory Remix)” – 73 BPM
  • Big Data & Joywave – “Dangerous (Spacebrother’s Electro Stomp Remix)” – 126 BPM
  • Fifth Harmony & Kid Ink – “Worth It” – 101 BPM
  • Madonna – “Living for Love” – 123 BPM
  • Imagine Dragons – “I Bet My Life (Alex Adair Remix)” – 117 BPM
  • Bleachers – “Rollercoaster” – 163 BPM
  • Maroon 5 – “Sugar” – 121 BPM
  • Yellow Claw & Ayden – “Till It Hurts” – 146 BPM
  • Penguin Prison – “Calling Out (Elephante Remix)” – 128 BPM


March 2015
Just breathe!

You’ve been doing it about 20,000 times a day since the moment you were born. In fact, you’re doing it right now. More importantly, experts are saying you’re doing it all wrong.

We’re referring to breathing, which seems like such a natural act that we only think of it when we’re huffing and puffing at the end of a 10k — not while walking to work, eating breakfast or any other normal activity.

What exactly does it mean to say we’re all breathing “wrong?” If you’ve made it this far, it seems like you’ve been doing an OK job. Oxygen is coming in; carbon dioxide is going out. But, according to Noam Tamir, CSCS, founder of TS Fitness in New York City, while we might be getting by, we could be breathing better. In fact, improving our breathing could help to lower blood pressuredecrease stressimprove athletic performance and maybe even increase brain size.

Breathe In, Breathe Out: Common Breathing Mistakes

When Tamir works with a new client, the first thing he puts them through is the Functional Movement Screen to assess any major muscle imbalances. Closely following the FMS is a breathing assessment. During the evaluation, Tamir is looking for any one or a combination of breathing inefficiencies we’ve developed over time. The term “inefficient breathing” can mean various things depending on who you ask, but for Tamir, it breaks down to these three mishaps:

Chest Breathing
Rather than breathing deeply through the belly using the diaphragm, it’s common to see breathing through the top of the chest, Tamir says, which forces the body to rely on other muscles not built for the task at hand. When you breathe through the chest, “you’re using a lot of ancillary muscles, such as those in the neck, that you really don’t need to use.” This can also reinforce neck and shoulder tension common among office workers. Following the age-old principle “Use it or lose it,” this reliance on ancillary muscles also weakens the diaphragm. A weak diaphragm will fatigue easily during exercise, meaning your muscles won’t receive the optimum amount of blood flow during your next CrossFit WOD or 5K.

Shallow Breathing
Another bad habit when it comes to our breath? We’re working too hard to get in the oxygen that we need. Rather than taking deep, full breaths, we’re resorting to shallow, quick ones, forcing the body to work overtime to get the same amount of oxygen, Tamir says. This could partly be due to poor posture, most prevalent among those who slump over a screen all day (not to mention gym-goers who overemphasize mirror muscles instead of focusing on balance). With the shoulders hunched forward, we lose part of our ability to expand our diaphragm and take the big, full breaths that can boost workout performance, increase efficiency and help manage stress.

Lack Of Rhythm
No, we’re not talking about the kind you would see on the dance floor. If you’ve ever focused on your breathing while running to help pass the time, you’ve likely noticed a specific rhythm to your breath. Perhaps it matched the pace of your footsteps (cadence) or your arm swing. Whatever the pattern, breathing smoothly and rhythmically can play a calming role, particularly in athletes, says Tamir. If your breathing is erratic, it’s hard to get into the zone — whether that’s busting out your last track interval or burning through your last set of squats.

3 Breathing Techniques To Boost Performance

Breathing has a huge impact on our health and fitness, but we’re probably not taking advantage of it just yet. The good news is that anyone can improve their breathing with even a small time investment, Tamir says. And it all starts with basic awareness. Tamir recommends focusing on just your breathing one to two times a day, starting with just one minute at a time. Seem doable? Here’s your playbook for success.

1. When you’re at your desk…
Take advantage of the stress-relief properties of proper breathing. Deep breathing has been shown to increase activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, the system opposite our fight-or-flight response responsible for a calmer, more tranquil demeanor. If possible, Tamir suggests working on your breathing lying on the ground with your feet up against a wall, which removes gravity from the equation. (You can also get similar benefits from doing the exercise in your chair or standing if you want to avoid the stare of your coworkers or classmates.)

Next, put one hand on your chest and the other on your abdominal area. For one to two minutes, take deep, focused breaths, making sure you spend as much time on the exhalation as the inhalation. In fact, Tamir notes that the exhalation will often be deeper than the inhalation. The key with this exercise is to make sure that your abdominals rise before your chest. (Video demonstration here.)

2. When you’re warming up…
Since breathing has such an impact on athletic performance, the warm-up is the perfect time to refocus the priority on your breath. Spend a few minutes foam rolling your upper body, particularly the areas hampering your ability to breathe correctly (think: chest, shoulders and neck). Then, go through the deep breathing exercise described above before proceeding into your active warm-up. By focusing on your breath prior to exercising, you’re reinforcing proper breathing mechanics before any heavy lifting or HIIT takes place. The result: Less huffing and puffing once the exertion commences, leading to a more efficient workout.

3. When you’re working out…
Was it inhale on the way down or on the way up? Was holding my breath good or bad? Trying to remember when and how to breathe while working out can be tough. Here are two tips to help you get it right in the gym:

  • For heavy loads and max efforts, use the Vasalva maneuver. Val-what? The Valsalva Manuever is a technique that involves taking a deep breath immediately prior to lifting and holding that breath while you lift. Using this method, “You’re creating a lot of intra-abdominal pressure,” Tamir explains. This increase in pressure creates a strong foundation for your body and allows it to handle more weight. Before approaching a max-effort deadlift, for instance, lifters would stand over the bar and prepare for the lift. Right before setting their grip, they would take a deep breath in and hold that air inside the lungs throughout the rep.Wait — holding your breath during exercise? Wouldn’t that be dangerous? Some research has indeed claimed that the increase in pressure caused by the Valsalva maneuver could have negative health implications (increasing risk of stroke for example). However, a comprehensive recap done by Jonathon Sullivan, associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Wayne State University/Detroit Receiving Hospital, explains this risk mainly applies to those with preexisting conditions such as uncontrolled blood pressure or other cerebrovascular issues. As with any piece of health advice, it’s best to check with your doctor prior to getting under the bar just to be safe.
  • For sub-maximal loads, use bracing. The term “bracing” was first coined by Dr. Stuart McGill, a leading researcher in spine mechanics. Bracing involves activating all of your core musculature from all angles to create a “superstiffness” of the midsection. This bracing creates stability throughout the entire core and reduces injury risk. For example, while performing a lateral raise, lifters should tighten their midsection as if they were about to be punched in the stomach (actual punch not recommended!). This involves more than just pulling in your abs. Instead, imagine tightening your abominals, lower back, lats and obliques for 360 degrees of tension. Now, hold that throughout the exercise!

Between counting your macros, hydrating, stretching, foam rolling and the myriad other habits you have set up to improve your health, breathing is easy to overlook. But, when you take into account how many times you breathe each day? Taking those 20,000 reps into consideration, even the smallest improvements can have a huge impact. Set aside one to two minutes a day to improve your breathing, and then carry those new habits into the office, the gym, or wherever else the day takes you. You’ll huff and puff your way to a fitter, faster and stronger you!


March 2015

Many runners follow a training plan and use GPS devices to help keep track of their progress, and even those who are following a plan like to see how far they have gone and if they have improved. There really are so many different apps to use, so here is a round up of the best free running apps to help keep you going.


Strava lets you track your rides and runs via your iPhone, Android or dedicated GPS device and helps you analyze  your performance. I really like Strava, you can follow your friends and see what they are doing. You can also see if you have improved on a certain route and how you compare to others who are doing the same routes.


Runkeeper tracks all your vital running stats. You can set goals, start running and Runkeeper does the rest using GPS to track distance, time, splits, pacing. Not only does it do all of the above but it looks pretty cool too.

Run with Map My Run

Map My Run uses your phone’s GPS to track where you’ve run, how far, how fast and stores it all up and presents it to you in an easy-to-understand way. Best of all, it costs nothing, you can also share it on social to show off to your friends, or not if you don’t want to.


Endomondo is an all-in-one running trainer, with GPS tracking, challenges and workout history all available on the free version. The app can be upgraded to the premium account, which adds heart-rate zones, training analysis, workout comparisons and benchmarking against other runners.