Eight (8) out of ten (10) adults will suffer from back and/or neck pain at some point in their life, according to Mayfield Brain & Spine. Pain can range from acute, that is abrupt to intense pain lasting several days or weeks.
Studies show that 90% of adults experience spine symptoms at one point in their life. If those symptoms would be addressed early 90% of herniated disc patients would NOT require surgery. (Elements Fitness, Dr. Justine Bernard)
Sometimes acute pain can spread to the arms and legs, and/or might increase weakness in your extremities. In this case, stop the activity, do not wait but contact your doctor immediately and seek advice.
Many people have neck and/or back pain from every day actives, and are surprised to find out that their arms, lower back, or/and hips might be effected as well.
At HEYlifetraining Pilates & Wellness, we evaluate the clients current neck and/or back condition based on the Pilates principles, (taking into account, any recommendations from the clients physical therapist or health practitioner) and design a specific program to decrease pain.
Here are the top 5 exercises you can start doing today!
- Shoulder rolls backwards (make circles with both shoulders slowly) 5 – 10 x
- Gently squeeze your shoulder blades together (think of the mid-line in your upper back and bring the blades together) 5 – 10 x
- Breathing! As simple as it sounds, breathing can release tight muscles and relax them (practice focused breathing into the area of pain)
- Lying down, pull your knees into the chest and gently rock your pelvis forward and back
- Correct your posture! Sitting or standing with ideal posture can alleviate many of the every day muscle strains
Want to know more learn more about how HEYlifetraining Pilates & Wellness can help you lead a functional and fit lifestyle?
After 5 months of coaching below are Becki's results and her story:
Weight lost: 6 lbs - 135lb (from 141lb - 135lb)
% of Body fat lost: 6% (from 26% - 20%)
Lbs of Body fat lost: 9lbs
Lean weight gained: 4lbs
Becki started working with HEYlifetraining to gain core strength and get in shape. She was already working with a nutritionist, that was in charge of her weight loss.
After several months she started showing the first results but the weight did not change. I suggested that we work together on her weight loss as well.
Guiding her to eat nutritious, balanced meals, and sneak in some vegetables was a challenge at first. Becki does not like vegetables and ate a lot of fruit. Too much for her goals.
Her snacks turned into “a treat” , with the choices ranging from chocolate to ice cream. She admitted to have a “big” sweet tooth. I told her, she can have her treat and eat it too, but a snack is a small meal which helps keep her energy up during the day.
She also needed to move more, when she was not working with me. During the week she had very little time and the weekend was her only option most weeks. I encouraged her to find things she likes to do and one of her choices was an acrobatics class – how fun!
Becki looks and feels terrific, read her story below:
Many thanks to Heike for helping me lose the pounds I’d tried to take off by myself, unsuccessfully, for several years! Her nutrition coaching was fantastic – she is very supportive but at the same time always held me accountable for my choices. I learned a lot of new information about the food I eat, and believe I have created some solid new habits and a sustainable plan for long-term weight maintenance.
The nutrition coaching was a great complement to the weekly Pilates instruction which has been a fun and relatively painless way to exercise. I’d been wanting to try Pilates for many years and am glad I finally took the plunge with Heike!
Only two weeks after my first ½ Ironman, I was attempting my next challenge, the Eagleman 70.3 Ironman in Cambridge, Maryland. We drove to nearby Cambridge, once again our car loaded with triathlon gear, but this time my husband was my Sherpa instead of racing himself.
What does a Sherpa do? Anything you need him/her to do to make the race easier for you. A Sherpa carries your bags, makes breakfast, cheers you on, and perhaps gets the bike out of transition, should one be unable to do so.
The ½ Ironman distance, once again a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike, and a 13.1 mile run. The Eagleman 70.3 is named after the beautiful Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge nearby. It is known to be a flat, windy, and very hot race.
Friday, June 12th, 2015
We arrived in Cambridge, MD for package pick up and the pre-race meeting. The logistics were easier to negotiate than in Raleigh, as everything was nearby and easy to access. We shared a large house, 10 minutes outside of town, with several other team mates from Team Z, who would be racing as well.
Saturday, June 13th, 2015
After racking my bike in the designated area, I went for a quick practice swim, and a short run, then it was time to relax.
Sunday, June 14th, 2015
We woke up at 4:00am, got a little bite to eat and drove to Cambridge, MD were I set up my gear. This time there were no bags involved to store your gear in, but one just organized the items needed next to your bike.
For instance, after the swim you need your bike gear (shoes, socks, helmet, glasses and body glide), behind it you put your run gear (shoes, socks, hat, glasses, sun screen, and race belt). As you transition through each stage, you simply go item by item, and hope you don't forget anything.
The Swim Start
The swim took place in the Choptank river in Cambridge. A shallow body of water, at least for the swim, and you can almost walk the 1.2 miles if you wanted too. The water temperature had reached 79 degrees and once again wetsuits were optional. This swim turned out to be very rough. I was punched, kicked, pushed, got my goggles almost ripped off, and one person even pushed my head under water while trying to swim over me.
I pushed through and finished my swim in 59 minutes.
The Bike Start
The transition to my bike felt easy, and I quickly put on my bike gear and went onto the bike start. The ride is flat as a pancake, often times very windy, and extremely hot. The biggest challenge during my ride was to stay low in my aero bars. Imagine being folded forward on your bike for 3 or more hours, and after the hard swim my arms were so tired. The Wildlife Refuge is a beautiful place to bike, but being in aero bars one does not see much of the beauty around.
I finished my bike ride in 3 hours 2 minutes, feeling terrific.
The Run Start
By the time I started my run, the temperature had risen to 84 degree with a heat index of 104-107! The run course took us outside of Cambridge, along part of the bike course and back. It was brutal, to say the least. During the first 3 miles I contemplated quitting due to the heat. I prevailed by run/walking the course, stopping at each aid station (they were about 1 mile apart) for ice, cold water, and sponges dipped in ice water.
I finished my run in 2 hours 21 minutes.
Overall, I finished in 6 hours 31 minutes and placed 17th in my age group. I am very excited that I finished with a personal record of about 35 minutes over my last ½ Ironman two weeks ago.
Now it's time to rest, recover, regroup, learn to swim better, and get stronger for my goals ahead.
”She said she would so she did”
Once again our car was loaded with two bikes, two wetsuits and an incredible amount of other gear for my first ½ Ironman in Raleigh, NC. My husband, already a seasoned Ironman would participate as well.
The distance of an ½ Ironman is 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride, and a 13.1 run to top it off.
Friday, May 29th – Arrival in Raleigh, NC
Our Hotel was outside of Raleigh but within 15 minutes driving distance of the race start and finish. We checked in at the Convention center, picked up our race numbers, ankle straps that would track us during the race, swim caps, race t-shirts, and a small Ironman backpack filled with sponsor items.
Saturday, May 30th
We went to the pre-race meeting, as this race included several logistic planning stages. For instance, the bike was to be dropped off at Lake Jordan on Saturday, 40 minutes outside of town and how would we get there in the morning for the race start was among the important things to find out.
Later on, we drove to Lake Jordan, rode our bikes one last time before they went onto the bike racks provided by Ironman (the race organizer). My bike was labeled with my race number and so was a blue plastic bag that included all my bike gear I needed to ride the race (helmet, gloves, nutrition, sun screen, shoes, socks, sun glasses, and glide to prevent chafing). This bag was to be put with the bike on race morning.
As the race setup was in full progress we were unable to swim, but the lake looked beautiful and inviting.
Sunday, May 31st – Race Day
We awoke at 3:30am!!! Drove downtown to where the bike finish took place and dropped off our red bag (yes, another bag); this bag contained our run gear. We would finish our bike ride there, rack our bike, change into running gear, and start our 13.1 miler there.
Buses took all the racers to Lake Jordan for the race start, where we waited for about 2 hours until it was time to swim.
The Swim Start
The lake was beautiful, still, and as it turned out 79 degree. That meant no wetsuit swim for the 1.2 miles. Swimming this distance in open water without a wetsuit was a first for me. I took a deep breath, thinking of what my coaches Greg Nelson and Debbie Kraut taught me. I felt completely confident in my swimming abilities.
I got a bit lost on the orientation buoys that marked the way. In addition to swimming with many other swimmers next to me, which sometimes were in my way or maybe I was in theirs.
I guess that's why the swim took me a bit longer then I anticipated, but I finished my swim in 1 hour and 2 minutes.
The Bike Start
My legs felt steady coming out of the water, and I easily found my bike. Learning from previous race mistakes, I took my time to have everything in place for the 56 mile ride. I even stopped by the “sun screen girls” to have more sun screen applied. It was going to be a hot 92 degree, with little wind or shade on the ride. I now left my blue bag behind, it included my swim gear (goggles and swim cap). One should know that you swim in a triathlon suit and without changing out of it, you simply climb on your bike and ride off.
The bike ride took us through the beautiful country side of Raleigh, NC, with mostly rolling hills. I was surprised to see how many people came out to cheer us on and made the race that much more enjoyable. The ride became more challenging as the temperature rose, I made sure to follow my nutrition/hydration plan.
I finished my bike in 3 hours 33 minutes and felt strong at the end.
The Run Start
After racking my bike, I changed out of my bike gear into my running shoes, everything else now went into the red bag. (Now you see, why we had to go to the pre-race meeting – so many bags). I started my run following my son's advice; I had practiced running right after a bike ride to get my legs used to the change. My legs felt light and ready to go.
After turning the first corner I thought: “Oh, boy is this hot”! The air was stifling, no wind and it it was uphill the first mile. I made it to the first water stop and put ice cubes under my cap, into my shirt, drank cold water, grabbed sponges soaked in ice water, anything to cool my body temperature down. Due to the heat, I felt I could not run the entire time and opted to run/walk the distance. I ran the flats and down hills, then walking the uphills.
It was a brutal run/walk but I got the job done, finishing my run in 2 hours 19 minutes.
Overall, I finished in 7 hours 5 minutes and 27 seconds, and was very happy with my result.
I want to say thank you to my husband for all the support and guidance he is giving me and he still cooks for me too.
Thank you to my incredible kids who still think their mom is crazy, but in a good way. To all my friends out there for your encouragement and friendship.
I could have not done it without the support of the people that love me.
Summer is here and you may crave a cool, delicious smoothie full of vitamins and minerals. Some of the juice bar shakes seem to offer that, but instead are loaded with sugar, contain a low source of protein, adding processed foods, and artificial ingredients.
Why not make your OWN super summer smoothie?
Start with a good blender and pick...
… your liquid: water, almond milk, green tea, or cow's milk
… your protein source: 1 scoop of whey, pea, or protein blends of your choice
… pick your vegetable: 1 handful of dark leafy greens, cucumber, or celery
… pick a fruit: 1 handful of berries or ½ banana, apple or ½ cup of pineapple
… pick a healthy fat: yoghurt, flax seeds, or chia seeds, avocado, or peanut butter
… sprinkle on top of it: coconuts, granola, cinnamon, or ice if using fresh fruit
A recent article in IDEA suggested to add some interesting alternatives, for instance, sweet potato, ricotta cheese, Tahini, and Matcha to your smoothie.
Have one for breakfast or as a meal replacement when in a rush.
The sky is the limit for your perfect cooling summer smoothie.
...contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals
...is low in sugar and high in fiber
A serving size is smaller then you think:
1/5 of a medium Avocado (1 once) has 50 calories
Remember to eat 5 – 9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
Exercise and nutrition work together – click here for one of my 4-week online nutrition/fitness program
Does frequent sitting result in weight gain for women? This question was explored by IDEA, Fitness Journal March 2015, and based on a study published in Preventing Chronic Disease 2014; 11, 140286, it seems that way.
Sitting for an extended period of time at your desk is associated with a variety of healthy problems; weight gain in women, not in men is one of them.
Researchers conducted various phone interviews and based on above study found that:
- Women who sat 31-180 minutes at work were 1.53 times more likely to be overweight, compared to women who sat less then 30 minutes
- Women sitting over 181- 360 minutes were 1.9 times more likely to be overweight
- Sitting over 361 minutes were 1.7 times more likely to be overweight
African American women on the other hand, according to the study:
- Women in this category sitting 31-180 minutes at work were 2.43 more like to be overweight
- Spending up 360 minutes sitting at work resulted in 2.53 times more likely hood over being overweight
According to a poll by the Institute for Medicine and Public Health, nearly 6,300 people are sitting 56 hours per week! Women also seem to be more sedentary then men in the study compiled.
Many of my female clients are sitting for extended periods of time, everyone understands that they need to move more. Some have pointed out, that due to their position at work, it is not feasible to leave their desks, others are working on such interesting projects that they totally forget about getting up to move.
Here are some strategies that might work for you:
- Set a timer on your desktops to get up and walk around the office every 20-minutes.
- Fill up your water bottle, is another way to not only keep hydrated but walk to the water fountain at work several times a day.
- Focus on your posture, using the Pilates principles learned during our sessions. Pilates can help with back and neck pain, a common side effect of extended sitting.
- Upper body stretches can be incorporated throughout the day, I encourage you to stretch often.
- Walking on a treadmill while working seems to be latest trend in equipment use.
- Taking a lunch walk with co-workers is a fun way to move and destress.
- My “brave” clients, have started implementing marching in place at the desk.
- Yet others have found a pedometer can do the trick, and reaching the magic number of one thousand steps can be fun.
- Explore you diet options when moving less, choose lean proteins, lots of vegetables, and whole grains.
Each situation is so individual and it is fun for me, to find new ways for you to move, and choose the right foods while sitting during long work hours.
The Shamrock Marathon has become one of my favorite spring races. The race is held in Virginia Beach, VA, and not only can you run an 8k, but a ½ marathon and a full marathon in the same weekend. It is encouraged to dress up and run in green clothing, a tutu or any other fun outfit you like to contribute to the event.
The course is flat but strong winds during the race are not unheard of. This years' temperatures were perfect for running, there was a little breeze, and even some sunshine.
The Shamrock Marathon, was my first race with Team Z this year and our Team shirt is green, making it a perfect piece of clothing for the race. My last full marathon was in 2013 and this one was the start to prepare for my Ironman later this year.
The race started at 8:30am and I was ready to run. I felt strong, running my initial pace of 8:30 minutes per mile and I was heading for a Boston qualifying time. By mile 16 my IT bands on both legs started to tighten up; changing my stride did not make any difference. Reaching mile 19 in pain, now my ACL was so tender I could not put much weight on my leg and I started to walk. Stretching the hurting leg helped some, but running at this point was out the question; more stretching and walking followed. I decided, if the pain does not subside by mile 20 I would take a ride back to the finish.
Many things go through your head at this point, but the most important aspect is to finish healthy. Walking was not too bad and I continued on, shuffling/walking the rest of the distance. The amazing cheer crews along the way were very kind and encouraging as I limped along.
Coach Alexis from Team Z saw me at mile 22; with great concern he told me not to stress over it and finish slowly if I could. He said: “You have an Ironman in your future, this is just a stepping stone”.
I finished the Shamrock Marathon 2015 with the worst time up to date in a marathon, but I don't mind it because it is such a fun race. The crowed support is fantastic, the race is well organized, and after all it is a beach vacation.
HEYlifetraining’s “Food Bites” will share what’s healthy and hot and what’s not in the food industry. Here you find the latest information on nutrition, food trends, and why eating healthy is important.
Food Bite #3: How do I get enough protein into my diet?
My clients often ask me: “How do I get more protein in my diet? I eat plenty of carbohydrates but I always fall short on my daily protein intake.”
Some experts believe that it is not necessary to eat protein with each meal. As a PN certified nutrition coach, I trust that a diet higher in protein is safe and effective. Eating complete proteins with each meal not only lowers your body fat, increases your muscle mass, but also stimulates your metabolism.
What is protein: Protein is a large and complex molecule consisting of amino acids (which contain nitrogen) that are essential for living cells.
What is the energy value of protein:
1 gram of protein = 5.65 calories or kcal
Compare that to:
1 gram of carbohydrates = 4 calories
1 gram of alcohol = 7 calories
1 gram of fat = 9 calories
The body has the ability to make 12 amino acids on its own, they are known as non-essential amino acids. 8 amino acids can only be supplied through your diet and have to be replenished each day.
Animal protein rank the highest in protein measures, while plant-based protein ranks the lowest. It is commonly believed that plants don't contain amino acids and therefore are not a good source of protein. That is really not the case. (Source: PN Nutrition, The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition, second edition)
For those following a plant-based diet, protein intake should be adequate by following the guide lines below:
- Eat enough to sustain a lean body
- Don't build a diet around processed foods
- Eat a diet diverse in plant foods, for instance, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds
- Eat at least ¼ cup – 1 cup of beans/legumes each day
How much protein should you eat at each meal?
At PN nutrition we recommend 20-30g of lean, complete protein for women and 40-60g for men at each meal.
Here are some meat, vegetarian and vegan sources of protein:
- Lean red meat
- Lean chicken
- Eggs and egg whites
- Low fat plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and milk
- Soy and Almond milk
- Peanut or Almond butter
- Protein Supplements (whey, milk, or soy, pea, hemp protein source)
- Chia seed, Flax seed; add them to smoothies and breakfast cereals
- Quinoa, amaranth, teff, buckwheat
- Pistachios, cashews, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds
- Tofu, Tempeh, Natto and Miso
- Lentils, black beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, split peas, hummus
All it takes is a some planning while shopping for protein. Set aside a little prep time on the weekends to have a pantry/fridge full of protein sources.
I came across the perfect breakfast item, it is gluten-free and paleo:
2 over ripe mashed Bananas
1 t Vanilla
2 t Cinnamon
2 T Cashew milk
¼ c Almond flour
Whisk smooth and cook on a medium low skillet (lightly greased). Serve with your choice of berries. (The picture above and recipe is compliments of one of my triathlon friends)
Here are other delicious breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas:
- Seared yellowfin Tuna steak on a bed of spring salad, with sesame ginger dressing Pecans and Strawberries
- Minestrone soup
- Whole-grain slice of bread banana french toast, sprinkle with almonds
- Steamed Brussels sprouts, leg of lamb with parsley, onion, and garlic
- Asian meatballs with apple, avocado, mushrooms, and almonds
Now it's your turn. Find some delicious recipes or create your own, based on the list of proteins above.
Yes, today is another snow day and you are stuck at home.
You had to cancel yet another workout and snow shoveling just does not seem enough. Snow shoveling might not be on your agenda anyways.
You wish you could just workout.
You can workout with me no matter the weather, road conditions or your location.
Virtual training will solve this problem. Here is how it works:
- You simply contact me via email or call me to set up a Skype, Google Hangout, or Face time session and you can workout with me in person.
- I will design a workout around the equipment you have at home or in your office. If you don't have any equipment, that's ok too.
- It will feel just like one of your regular sessions with me, but simply online.
- I am there every step of the way, to correct and guide you through your exercises.
Wait! This is not only an option during winter weather, but also while you are traveling for business or visiting family away from home.
The cost per session is the same as in-person training and we will spend the same amount of time as well.