Category: Wellness Tips

You lucky readers! Today’s post is a guest post by my charming husband Charlie! He’ll be giving you the background on how he set his goals. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the read!

Charlie’s Assessment Results:

Charlie

Resting pulse Normal
Resting BP Normal
Body Mass Index Overweight
Waist-to-hip Ratio Low risk
Body fat % Poor
Cardiovascular fitness Excellent
Muscular endurance (push-up) Good
Muscular endurance (curl-up) Excellent
Flexibility Good

 

 

Well, I’m was somewhat surprised by the results of the assessment. While I knew I’d been carrying around an excess of weight, I never think of myself as physically fit or in good cardiovascular shape. I do work out on a regular basis but it’s more of a sporadic schedule – I have not had a specific focus in some time, so I’ve basically just been sampling from the buffet table of exercise – and from the actual buffet table, it seems, based on my numbers. I’m at least 15 lbs overweight at the moment and my flexibility has suffered. My cardio is actually pretty good – but I tend to train that more often than I do anything else.

IMG_0592Charlie’s Story: About 5 years ago, I realized my health might actually be important! I was a truck
driver at the time – working 12+ hours a day, eating terribly, sleeping little and being quite inactive when I was not working. I started having back and knee issues – mostly due to sitting so often and being overweight. So I started working out – slowly at first, building endurance and strength, and increasing as I could. Eventually, I started using the P90x program and watching my food intake, which helped a lot! Once I completed that, I started weight training – heavy squats, deadlifts, bench presses, etc. – compound exercises, mostly. This fixed all my health issues!

Fast forward a few years – during which I began/achieved my quests to become a Firefighter/EMT and a husband – and my diligence in keeping my physical fitness at top level has dwindled. I still work out several times a week, but not with the intensity I used to. Added to that is the fact that I haven’t been regulating my diet in any way for a couple of years. Poor habit + poor habit = poor results. So, time to fix it!

 



 

Charlie’s Other Concerns: I have a history of knee surgeries and issues that I don’t want to exacerbate by ignoring my health. As stated above, I’ve had more issues/pain in my knees as my weight goes up, historically, than when I’m lighter or more active, so I need to keep my weight in check.

While my health is clearly important, equally so is my fitness for my career – and the folks I serve. I have a responsibility to the public to be capable of getting someone out of a burning building! Also, ever tried dragging a charged fire hose through a house? No picnic, that. And, while that, admittedly, is not a particularly frequent event, it’s a possibility. More often, though, I’m helping someone who has fallen and needs assistance or lifting gurneys with sick folks – and that takes strength, flexibility and conditioning, too.

And my pants are more snug than they used to be. That’s annoying. I like my pants. I don’t want to buy new ones.

 



 

Charlie’s End Game: My end game will essentially have me back in “fighting shape” – lighter on my feet, more flexible and with more practical strength than just weightlifting strength. I’ll be able to button my pants without thinking about shopping for a bigger size. And it involves me having more energy, because I’ve taken care of my body and am proactive about nutrition and fitness.

Charlie’s Goals: Of course, as a man, I want to absolutely crush my goals. And I instinctively want to set pretty high standards. So I’m going to do that. Here they are:

  1. Lose 20 lbs (bringing me down to about 180 or so)
  2. Increase my cardiovascular fitness from Excellent to Superior.
  3. Improve my flexibility by doing more yoga!
  4. Fit back into my wedding pants (they are too tight, now)

That covers my main goals. I’ll share my plan when it’s done! Thanks!

 



Exercise Goal Setting

My Assessment Results: In case you missed the last post (or forgot!) I’ll remind you of how my body composition and fitness assessments turned out.

Resting pulse Elevated
Resting BP Elevated
Weight + 7 lbs from my normal
Body Mass Index Normal
Waist-to-hip Ratio Low risk
Body fat % Average
Cardiovascular fitness Fair
Muscular endurance (push-up) Very Good
Muscular endurance (curl-up) Excellent
Flexibility Good

My body composition overall is pretty good, with the exception that I happen to be up 7 lbs from what is normal for me, and I happen to know that it is not muscle gain.

My muscular endurance and flexibility have hung in there pretty well, but my cardiovascular system is asking for help!

My elevated resting heart rate and blood pressure are showing that my body is having to work harder to move blood throughout my body by beating faster and generating more pressure than it should have to. Definitely an area I want to improve!

 



 

My Story: I’m suffering from desk job-itis!! I have worked at a desk job for the last 2 1/2 years and it has definitely taken its toll! For most of the last 2 years I have made it a point to go for a 30-minute walk at lunch at least 3-4 days per week, but it clearly wasn’t cutting it for keeping my cardio up to snuff. I’ve tossed in yoga and weight lifting along the way, which makes sense in my results, as my muscular endurance and flexibility are still okay.

The last 2 months or so have been particularly bad for my inactivity, because I was still working full-time at my clinic and spending out-of-work hours preparing to open my practice. I made the choice to temporarily prioritize that over my fitness and now that I’m no longer working full-time I’m ready to turn that around.

 



IMG_1127

My other concerns: As part of my desk job-itis, I have developed some postural issues from muscle imbalances. It’s hard to “stand naturally” when posing for a picture of your posture but I tried here.

See how my neck and shoulders tend to roll forward a lot, rounding my upper back? My chest muscles are tight and my upper back muscles are weak from all of my hunching over a computer screen (and phone and books).

The other notable issue with my posture is that, because of the weaknesses in my back, I tend to let my lower back arch forward. The midline of my hips should be further back, nearer to my spine so that my spine is a bit more neutral to protect my back.

On top of this, my hip flexors (the muscles in the front of my hips) are tight from all my sitting and lack of moving, so they are causing my pelvis to tip forward and down. They need some stretching.

These are all things I would like to make goals to address!

 



 

My end game: I often ask clients to describe their “end game” – what are you going for? Describe what life looks like when you’ve met all your health goals. How do you feel? What do you do?

For me, I want to be strong and healthy. Strong enough to push and pull my own body weight and then some. Strong enough to surprise other people, but mostly surprise myself. Capable to protect myself. I want to be healthy in that my lifestyle supports my body in what it needs to function well – nutrition, sleep, movement, and flexibility. I want to be healthy to do my part to prevent risk factors or chronic conditions. I want to be healthy enough to “go out and do.” By that, I mean that no matter what opportunity I’m given, I’m able to take advantage of it and am not held back because of my lack of health, lack of strength, or lack of endurance.

 



 

My Goals

Using the information above, I have created the following goals:

  1. Lose 7 lbs to return to my usual body weight
  2. Decrease resting heart rate and blood pressure to normal ranges
  3. Increase cardiovascular fitness from “fair” to “good”
  4. Improve posture by stretching chest, hip flexors, and decreasing anterior pelvic tilt, while strengthening back muscles.

In part 2, I’ll show you how I turn these long-term goals into a plan!

 



 

 

Exercise Goal Setting

dsc_1572Since my new practice, i’mPowered Nutrition & Fitness, is offering a $20 discount on my Goal-Getter package to help you meet your New Year’s goals, my next project is going to be something a little different. Both my husband and I are going to show you what the Goal-Getter package is all about by laying out our own nutrition and fitness goals and documenting our journeys to goal-get them! Alright, alright…enough punning.

Husband and I will start off with the body composition and fitness assessments to test where we are at now, then use those results to create goals. Based on those goals and our individual personalities/lifestyles, I’ll make a nutrition and training plan — i’mPowered-style — and we’ll follow it. You’ll get to watch the journey!

Stay tuned for the results of our “before” assessments!

 



Diets Exercise Goal Setting

Oftentimes I will have patients with diabetes whose blood sugars are high, and they think, logically, that if they eat very few (or no) carbohydrates, that will help. Unfortunately, they are working against themselves, and here’s why:

The body has what I like to refer to as a savings account of glucose in the liver. When the cells in the body aren’t getting the glucose they need for energy (like when someone skips a meal or when their cells are resistant to insulin), they start complaining all over the body trying to get someone to fix their problem. Word gets to the liver that the cells are starving and he wants to help. The trouble is, liver is a busy guy. He’s got many, many jobs. I often joke that managing this savings account is his “side gig.” He’s not particularly good at it.

 



 

In people with diabetes, liver sometimes starts dumping glucose from his savings account into the blood when he doesn’t really need to, and then once he has started…he doesn’t know when to stop. He just keeps pouring and pouring sugar into the blood and before you know it, this poor person who is trying their darnedest to avoid eating carbs in order to get their blood sugars down has a sky-high blood sugar because they haven’t eaten!

It’s the most frustrating thing in the world because it’s totally backwards to what we would naturally think.

Moral of the story: don’t skip meals, and don’t over-restrict carbohydrates! It’s just as important to eat enough as it is to not eat too much to manage blood sugars in diabetes (side note: that’s true for weight loss as well!).

Bonus sub-moral of the story: If you have something frustrating going on with your blood sugars or your weight that you can’t explain, seek out a Registered Dietitian or a Certified Diabetes Educator to help explain all the funky things that your body might be doing without your realizing it! You don’t have to be frustrated and helpless. You can be empowered to better understand your body!

 



 

Carb Counting How Your Body Works Wellness Tips

Many recommendations have come out in recent years discussing the benefits of avoiding long periods of sitting. For those of us who work at a desk, that can be tough! While working, it can be difficult to 1) remember to get up, 2) realize how much time has passed since you got up, or 3) get up at all, depending on what your job is!

To help with this conundrum – I tracked down two apps designed to promote movement while I was on my carb counting stent (people with diabetes are recommended to get up and move for 3 minutes out of every 30!). Check out my assessment of these apps:


Move – Daily Activity to Stay Healthy
(free from the Apple app store)

This one allows you to customize the frequency with which you want to be reminded to exercise, as well as the time frame in which you want reminders (like 8 am to 5 pm, for example). The app sends you an encouraging and/or Jillian Michaels-like reminder (“Don’t you dare think about skipping this one!” or “Come on, no excuses!”) to get up and move on the schedule you set. The app contains a list of exercise suggestions that you can tailor to your preferences. If you choose to do the exercise it suggests, you click a button that says “I did it!” and it will tack it onto an ongoing list of the exercises you have completed that day, complete with estimated calories burned. If you don’t want reminders on certain days, you can skip them for a day.

  • Pros: Easy to use, customizable exercises/schedule, exercise suggestions, accumulating list of exercises throughout the day is motivating.
  • Cons: Reminders could be a little less cheesy/condescending, several of the exercises would not be discreet in certain office settings (think jumping jacks and side-lying leg lifts – they have an “Office” exercise pack you can purchase that is supposed to remedy this).

Overall: I enjoyed this app – I liked that it gave suggestions for exercises because, even as an exercise physiologist, I do better with direction. Particularly when I’m in the middle of the work day – I don’t have to come up with exercises on my own!

Stand Up! The Work Break Timer (free from the Apple app store)

This app also allows you to customize it with a daily schedule and frequency of reminders. You can skip days as needed. On schedule, the app pops up a reminder that states, “Time to stand up. We want you to live longer!” If you go to the app at that time, you can select between options to skip that particular reminder or to acknowledge that you got up, which the app will track.

  • Pros: Easy to use, customizable schedule, tracks the number of times  and when you get up throughout the day.
  • Cons: Reminder is the same every time, no exercise suggestions.

Overall: It worked. I enjoyed the other app more, but they both will get the job done!

Exercise Wellness Tips

Have you ever been following a “diet” and then been faced with that darn thing called life?

Stress, donuts in the break room, or (like for me) date night can throw the best-laid plans out the window and then many people sit, riddled with guilt and feeling like a failure, wondering whether or not to throw their healthy goals out the window simply because they ate something their over-restrictive plan “didn’t allow.” That’s why I am all about focusing on including lots of nutritious choices, being aware of harmful foods and ingredients, and especially having a plan that includes the foods that make your life worth living!

Check out this great article written by a fellow RD about building a healthy relationship with food! I’m in agreement that the mental game of dieting and restriction can be just as destructive as poor eating habits!

“Yes, I’m a registered dietitian and I care deeply about nutritious, wholesome foods and eating. But I also wholeheartedly believe that there’s a time and a place for a treat.”
– RD Paige Smathers, quoted from KSL.com

 



 

Wellness Tips

On a note unrelated to any particular diet, I wanted to take a moment to spotlight one heck of a health and fitness inspiration.

 

I discovered this gal on a recent vacation when we had a TV in our hotel room (the kids were super psyched!) and watched a show called American Ninja Warrior. If you haven’t heard of it and you are in the right age range, you will best liken it to something along the lines of American Gladiators. If neither of those names means anything to you, American Ninja Warrior is a strength and agility competition in which contestants train to tackle a specific (very difficult) obstacle course. They are timed, and they must achieve certain times and complete certain obstacles in order to move on to the next round.

 

In the episode we watched, there was a very tricky obstacle christened “The Wedge” in which contestants hung from a horizontal bar with rubber tennis-ball-like objects on either end. This bar was wedged into what looked like two sheets of angled glass. The contestants had to use their momentum and body control to “jump” the bar across the tunnel between the two glass sheets, ensuring they keep the bar horizontal and don’t lose their grip. If my description makes absolutely no sense, fear not, for the video below will clear things up. “The Wedge” took no prisoners. Time after time, they would get to that darn wedge and their grip would slip or the bar would land slightly sideways and down they would plunge into the waiting pool below. It was beginning to look downright impossible.

 



 

Enter our heroine – Jessie Graff. Jessie is a stunt woman from Pennsylvania. She enters stage left with a delightful smile and a Wonder Woman costume. Her interviews gave a taste of her zest for life and her positive attitude. She is beautiful and fit on the outside, sure, but her mind and heart also exude beauty. Jessie, the only female in the show I watched, conquered the dreaded Wedge like it was a set of monkey bars on a playground.

 

 

So why am I all about Jessie Graff now? It’s not just because she’s a woman or because she “beat the boys” (though I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a defiant third-grade girl inside me who found a little bit of glee in that). It’s because she surpassed everyone’s expectations – including her own. It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we combine discipline with a positive attitude. I so admired these qualities in her that I tracked her down on Facebook. Her page is littered with pictures of little girls in Wonder Woman suits and comments from people saying that she is inspiring others out of eating disorders by showing what the human body is capable of when properly fueled.

 

This lady is stupendous and has most definitely been added to my mental Wall of Inspiring People.

 

You and I also can (and should) make a practice of surpassing everyone’s expectations – including our own. Make a fitness goal to see what your body can do – even if it seems a little out of reach. Add some positive attitude and discipline and you can inspire the socks off of yourself and others too!

 



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