Monday, July 31, 2017

Monday Workout: Balance and Core

This week, we continue to work on balance and core strength, especially oblique and back.  Four rounds.

1 min cardio

1 leg squats

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Transcendental Fitness

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.”  This statement is a great comfort to we humans who tend to live in the midst of paradox, but something of a disservice to those of us who seek fitness.  In a fitness context, there is not much that qualifies as foolish consistency, except perhaps insisting on a workout while injured.

What we do day in and day out builds our health or our lack of health.  One workout (sadly) will not make us fit.  We need to be regular and diligent.

What are we going to do today to be fit?

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Why train with me? Spoiler: it's not about my looks

Some people might wonder what the point of a personal trainer is, in general, and what the point of coming to work out with me in particular is, since I post a workout every week and anyone can just follow the directions.  It’s simple:  I’m that cute.

Not really.  I’m that funny.

OK, it’s not that either.

Workouts are easy to find.  You can get them from the grocery store, the library, the bookstore, the Internet, and even the dim recesses of high school memory.  Motivation and consistency are rarer.  Some people wake up motivated and do everything on their to-do lists.  Those people probably also floss their teeth and wax their kitchen floors.  I don’t know any of them.  When we have an appointment with a trainer, we have made a commitment of time and money.  That trainer is going to stand there looking at us the whole time; we might as well get on with the work.

Then there is the personal part of the personal training.  Yes, I do post a workout every week.  Most of my clients do that workout, more or less.  But sometimes someone has a tweaked knee, or an irritated rotator cuff.  Some people need and want to work with heavier weights, while others need to build endurance.  My job is to take the workout we have planned and alter it to fit the human being who walks through my door with a particular energy level, health status, and stress condition.

Doing the workout I write every week is good.  Doing it with me is better!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

How to Use Rewards

I wrote a list of rewards last week (remember?).  That kind of list can come in handy when it’s time to make a deal with ourselves.

When we do it formally, the Almighty They call it Contingency Contracting.  We can write down an actual statement.  For example, “If I complete two weight workouts this week, I get to have a pedicure.”

If we need extra formality, we can give the contract to someone else as our enforcement arm.  Posting the contract on the fridge or bathroom mirror serves pretty much the same purpose.

On an informal level, this works out much like the self-talk we use to push ourselves through tough stuff:  “When I finish this bike ride, I’m going to soak in the bathtub as long as I want!”

One note:  be careful about things like “Will run for chocolate.”

Monday, July 24, 2017

Monday Workout: Three rounds

Nothing super fancy this week.  Three rounds.  Get tired!

suitcase swings

kb swings
kb twists
overyets or 8s

pretty princesses

Friday, July 21, 2017

Friday No-Book Report

What?  No book this week?  Sometimes weeks don't go the way we want them to.  Sometimes stuff gets in the way of our goals.  Occasionally, that is all right.  By next week, I should have read something to write about!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

This is a photo of a caterpillar woman celebrating, or at least I think so.

Need a reward?  One that isn’t super pricey and has no calories?  Here’s a list:

1.     Get the car washed.  By someone else.  Maybe even a spiffy smell.
2.     Pedicure.
3.    A book in your favorite guilty-pleasure genre.
4.     New crazy socks.
5.     That song you can’t get out of your head, the one that makes you dance in the kitchen.
6.    A stroll by the beach.  Bring that special someone for bonus points.
7.     One session of a new class, whether it is yoga or climbing or tai chi or spin.  Something that opens your brain and your body.
8.     A puzzle.  Jigsaw, Sudoku, crossword, whatever keeps your monkey mind off the cookies.
9.     Something that smells good, whether that is lotion or perfume or shampoo or even new laundry soap.
10. A long chat with a friend.  Call someone far away or meet someone close by to catch up for real.

11.  Make something.  Take a photo, draw a picture, build a birdhouse.  Learn macramé or origami.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Not Set in Stone, Unlike This Petroglyph That Looks Like a Mutant Butterfly

Sometimes, like Thomas Edison, we figure out what doesn’t work before we figure out what does.  The basics of fitness are simple:  move more, eat less, keep breathing, repeat.  How they apply to each of us in our individual circumstances with our own special chemistry is more complicated.

As I mentioned a while back, I was considering trying the Bulletproof approach to food.  I had two reasons.  One was that I thought it would be something my husband could stick with, given that one of the basic premises is that meat is a Good Thing.  The other was that I thought it might help me with my inflammation issues.

One out of two isn’t bad.  It works great for Brent.  He lost weight and feels good.  He is ready to keep on with the program.

Me, not so much.  I lost some weight, yes, but I felt horrible.  I was tired and stupid and irritable (yes, more than usual!!!).  So I learned something that doesn’t work for me and I can move along to try something else.

Part of experimenting is being willing to say that something isn’t working.  That’s good.  That’s important.  And trying the next thing is just as important.  Up from here!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Social Support for Behavior Change (An Informative, If Not Sexy, Title)

We all know that our friends help us out when we want to change our behavior.  The support of friends can make the difference between success and failure.  Support comes in four flavors and we may not be able to find all of them in one person.

Perhaps the most obvious form of support is emotional support.  People who give us this kind cheer us on.  They listen when we complain about eating kale (again) or celebrate with a nice sparkling water when we report we lost that stubborn five pounds.

Then there are the people who give us instrumental support.  No, not by accompanying us on the piano while we work out.  These are the people who drive us to the gym or lend us a yoga mat or give us weights for Christmas.

Other people help us out by giving informational support.  This is a sneaky category because it sometimes hides people who are not all that supportive.  They provide “helpful” advice that tears us down.  Real informational support comes from knowledgeable people who really want what is best for you.  Think nutritionists, trainers, doctors, and knowledgeable friends.

Finally, some people give appraisal support.  These are the folks who give you feedback.  They say things like, “You’re almost there!” or “You skipped the fries!  Good on you!”

We need all those kinds of support.  Who’s on your team?

Monday, July 17, 2017

Monday Workout: What we learned last week

So last week while we were celebrating Christmas, I realized we all need to work a bit more on our renegade rows, so they are back this week.  And a little more balance work on the single leg squats plus a helping of round lunges (lunge front, lunge side, lunge back, repeat) would not hurt.  The battle ropes are the fun part!  Four rounds.

1 min cardio

single leg squats
battle rope alternating slams
ball flies
renegade rows
battle rope double slams
round lunges

Friday, July 14, 2017

Friday Book Report: Acts of Meaning

I work on the mind-body continuum, with an emphasis, of course, on the body side.  However, neglecting the mind entirely causes many body problems.  It is from this perspective that Jerome Bruner’s book Acts of Meaning applies to fitness.

The book explores psychology by positing that what minds do is construct meaning.  We don’t do this all alone, but socially and culturally.  The implications of this in language, story, cognitive science, and community fascinate me.

The book was entirely worth it just to learn about Roger Barker’s assertion of social rule:  “As Barker put it, when people go into the post office, they behave ‘post office.’” (p. 48).  I also enjoyed the exploration of the distributed self, the emergence of meaning with language in children, and the conception of autobiography as justificatory dialogue.

In all, the book felt like falling into a great conversation with someone with an intense intelligence and wide-ranging interest.  Much to think about here.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Get on the upward spiral!

Today in Shameless Self-Promotion, I would like to remind everyone (as if it wasn’t obvious) that I have finished my Behavior Change specialization.  Not only that, but I have used my new skills to help a client set some good goals AND MEET THEM.

She lost ten pounds and at least an inch in every measurement over a one-month period.  Her body fat percentage is down and her clothes are looser.

We chose her goals based on how ready she was to make the changes.  Then we tracked progress.

Want to be next?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


This sign is posted outside the library in Fallon, NV, where my kid works.  I am one of those people who read signs and apply them in ways the writers probably did not intend.  “End Roadwork” is a call to action, right?  And “Always Open” is about spiritual practice, clearly.

Let’s not loiter aimlessly through life.  Let’s get on with the business of living and Do Stuff, whether it is a workout or a professional accomplishment or a study or an art project.  We are our own police; let’s catch ourselves doing good things.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The rock is smiling at me...

Sometimes we have an excellent plan.  We have challenging, concrete, measurable goals.  We have terrific strategies.  We know what we want and how to get it!

And then we blow it.

It doesn’t matter if blowing it means eating the whole pizza or watching twelve continuous hours of Jerry Springer (is he even still on?) instead of exercising or both at the same time.  Blowing it means we get a brand-new mini-goal:  not letting one mistake totally derail us.

Cognitive behavioral therapy offers a blueprint for this mini-goal.  Here’s what we need to do to get back to what’s important to us:

Face it.  We did it.  Yep, that was us on the couch.  It happened.  But it is over now.

Think it over.  Consider what happened.  Maybe we had a Really Bad Day.  Do some analysis to sort out why we made such an unfortunate choice.

Think it over, again, but this time with what we should have done instead.  We could have transformed that Really Bad Day into a Really Kick-Butt Workout, maybe with punches or ball slams.

Track today.  Yes, we try to do this every day, but the day after a slip it is particularly important to write down what we are doing in the area we are targeting for change, whether that is what we eat or how we move or something else.

Get on with it.  It is not a good idea to do a punitive workout or an Eat-All-Kale day as penance.  We just need to work the plan we already have in place.  Start here, with this day, in this place, with this body.  Up from here.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Monday Workout: Christmas in July

I try to make Christmas come twice a year, once at the normal time and once sometime during the summer.  It’s this week.  Here’s how it works:  your true love wants you to be strong and powerful (or tired…).  He or she gives you one push press on the first day.  On the second day, he or she gives you two goblet squats and a push press.  On the third day, you get three overhead presses, two goblet squats, and a push press.  And so on, until you have done all twelve days’ worth of exercises.  No, I don’t know what we all did to deserve a true love who wants us to do so many burpees.  We can do this.

1 push press
2 goblet squats
3 Overhead press
4 1 leg squats each leg
5 deadlifts
6 burpees
7 pushups
8 renegade rows
9 mountain climbers
10 jump lunges
11 kb swings
12 plyojacks

Friday, July 7, 2017

Friday Book Report: The Bulletproof Diet

Dave Asprey’s book The Bulletproof Diet is, obviously, a diet book.  One does not, in general, read diet books for fun and this book does not encourage one to do so, although I have read many worse diet books.  There is a pattern.  Person feels miserable.  Person tries everything.  After much searching and gnashing of teeth, person finally finds the way and wants to spare the rest of us all that pain and suffering.  Buy this book.

This diet might work.  It includes foods my husband might actually eat, so we might even test it right here at home.  It eliminates the sugars that are the bane of the Standard American Diet.  It does focus on mostly whole foods.

Like all diets, it has idiosyncracies.  Asprey is obsessed with avoiding mold.  He adores grass-fed butter.  He has his personal list of must-have supplements.

The recipes at the end sound reasonably tasty and functional.  If you are looking for a set of directions, you could do worse than this book.