The problem with exercising exclusively for how you look without addressing how you function, is it’s not sustainable.
Just like a car that isn’t working, a new coat of paint won’t fix the problem under the hood.
The new paint job will make it look good, but eventually it will break down and you’ll have to admire the paint job without using the car.
Eventually the new paint job will rust because you’ll neglect the car that you can’t drive.
Just like a body that “looks good” but you can’t do anything with it. The looks you busted your butt for will fade because your body is in too much pain, injured, and broken to actually put in the work to keep your body looking good.
If you pursue functional mechanics when you exercise, the exercise will carry over long after you’re done working out. Your body will feel good, you’ll be able to move well, and your body will look good as a result of proper training. Training that is sustainable and supports the complexities of the human body.
Good health is something most of us strive for and, if you want to take your health to the next level, it goes deeper than nutrition and exercise. These tips, as simple as they sound, will elevate your health and enhance your overall quality of life. They manage issues like stress and anxiety, illness and depression, energy and recovery, and pain and wellbeing. You can combine some of these health hacks or just implement one at a time!
- Breathing is a critical foundation of health, if you can’t breath you won’t live for very long. Breathing properly will ensure you send oxygen to all the cells in your body and help remove carbon dioxide buildup. This exchange of air will help regulate physiological functions like heart beat and blood pressure, as well as reduce stress and manage anxiety. The best way to achieve this is to practice diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing- specifically The Wim Hof Method. This can be done with zero equipment, all you need is your lungs! You’ll perform a few rounds of belly breathing and retention that will help supply oxygen to your body and brain. If you do this right, then it’s like “getting high on your own supply.” Check out the link to see the full break down on how to perform this breathing exercise properly.
- Sunlight helps regulate our body’s biological clock, which is responsible for regulating sleep and energy. When we’re outside during the day our eyes are constantly absorbing natural light from the sun, telling us that we should be up and working. Bright light before bed will trick the body into thinking that it’s still day time and that we should be awake and functioning. When the body gets tricked then it won’t secrete the hormones necessary to induce a deep, restful sleep. As a rule of thumb; get outside during the day (morning/evening are best), without sunglasses, because they block our eyes from absorbing the natural light (unless you are being blinded by the sun when you’re driving), and minimize exposure to artificial light at night (phone, computer, and tv screens, especially before bed).
- Grounding or “earthing” is when your body connects with the Earth’s natural energy for an easy health boost. Walking or standing outside barefoot (or with socks) allows us to receive a charge of energy that makes us feel better. Connecting with the Earth can mean the difference between feeling good and not so good, having a little energy and a lot of energy, or sleeping well and not so well. Shoes can block our connection with the Earth’s energy, so walking around your home barefoot or standing outside without shoes is something that requires little effort and offers a huge benefit to your health. Try standing barefoot in a soft patch of grass or cool sand!
- Cold Therapy is a healing technique that has been proven to reduce inflammation, speed up recovery, improve your immune response, promote better sleep, and help with focus. It’s as simple as it sounds, just like icing a sprained ankle, except you’re “icing” your entire body. Rather than taking an ice bath, we recommend starting off with a cold shower. Start by taking a regular shower, soap up, wash off. But before you get out, turn the water to the coldest setting. Keep breathing and slowly introduce your body to the cold water. Start with your arms and your legs, then let the water run over your back and shoulders, and finally on your head. Begin gradually and stay under the cold water for around 15 seconds, and slowly increase your time up to a few minutes. Eventually you can turn your cold shower into an “ice bath” by getting into the shower first and then turning the water to cold right away. Most importantly, make sure that you continue to breath while you’re exposing yourself to colder temperatures. You’ll find cold therapy to be very stimulating for your nervous system, like a natural cup of coffee.
- Myofascial Release is like a deep tissue massage that you do yourself and is the best way to manage pain, improve mobility, and help with recovery. It’s like foam rolling but more intense and intentional. For example, the source of lower back pain may be the result of “tight” hip flexors. Rolling out the front and sides of your thighs could provide more relief for your lower back than constantly massaging or stretching the area that’s in pain. Too much stretching causes our muscles to loose their elasticity, leading to poor function in the long run. Instead, the release will hydrate the muscle tissue and help dissolve any fascial adhesions (“knots”) to promote mobility in that area of the body. Here are some videos discussing the best way to perform the releases that have the biggest carry over into mobilizing your muscles and managing your pain. When done properly, MFR can equip the body to respond better to stress. When you roll across a tender spot on your body the tendency is to tense up and stop breathing, so it’s important to breathe until the uncomfortable sensation (physical stress) dissipates. Over time this will train your body to breathe when it encounters stressful situations, rather than shutting down and letting the stress overwhelm you.
Following these tips as part of a healthy lifestyle will improve your physiological function, especially when used in conjunction with correct exercise and proper nutrition. All of these tips can be used on a daily basis to enhance aspects of your health, from mental to physical, whether you have time to workout and eat well or not. The best part is that you don’t need a bunch of fancy equipment so you can implement these health hacks anywhere, anytime. Obviously for the cold therapy you’ll need a shower or some ice and for the myofascial release you’ll need a tool like a lacrosse ball or foam roller. But you don’t need access to a gym or have to be physically fit to practice these healthy habits. If you’re really efficient you can spend your time outside, barefoot, breathing, doing MFR, and then coming inside to take a cold shower 🙂 New morning routine? Do it!
Exercise motives that are based strictly on looking good or losing weight negatively affect our health. Everybody has a different idea about what they believe to be a healthy looking body, but if looks are the only reason for exercising, that can limit the potential for progress in other aspects of our health. Exercise is a great tool for physical strength, mental well-being, managing pain, improving our quality of life, and preventative healthcare.
When our only objective is to lose weight when we exercise this can lead us on a path of body destruction by doing whatever it takes to lose that last 5 pounds. This can lead to overtraining, poor form, building bad habits, and crash dieting. It really is true that “slow and steady” wins the race. We have to think of our health as something long term and not something that is going to be fixed overnight or maintained without continuous effort.
The quick fix is enticing for everyone because we want our efforts to pay off immediately. When all of our hard work doesn’t illicit results right away we start getting frustrated and turn to magic pills, not eating enough, and then eating too much, exercising so intensely that our form turns poor and our chance of injury increases, or we just get fed up and throw in the towel all together. Instead of eating a little less at each meal and exercising a little more at each workout and building habits that we can maintain, we sabotage our success by trying to change everything at once and then expecting that change to manifest into accomplishing our goals right then and there.
Instead of having goals based only on physical aspects of health, like trying to look like the fitness models in magazines. Create goals that enhance other aspects of your health. Start off small, like trading french fries for a salad, and do it for the benefit of adding more veggies to your diet instead of doing it because it’s less calories so you know you’ll lose weight. If your goals change from losing weight to eating more vegetables you’re more likely to choose meals that are lower in calories anyway, so you’re still likely to lose weight but that’s not your only focus and therefore not the only benefit. By eating more vegetables you can experience natural energy through the day instead of feeling run down, with the new energy you don’t have to wire yourself with caffeine, and so you don’t get dehydrated as often. So now instead of beating your body up to lose a few pounds, you’re building your body up by fueling it with good food and staying hydrated. Habits like these will inevitably lead to healthy weight loss, one of your goals, but not the only one.
If you prioritize other aspects of your health as your motivation for exercising then it’s more likely that you’ll accomplish your goals. From losing weight and getting stronger to managing anxiety and living a fit and healthy lifestyle. Life is short but if your health is compromised then the days drag on and quality of life starts to suffer. Exercising with the right intent will sustain your body and your health to enjoy everything life has to offer for years to come. Keep yourself in the game and take care of your body to promote longevity and function. The days of exercising to look good are fading and the era of exercising to look and feel HEALTHY is in demand!
Most of us are accustomed to pain at some level, whether it’s a dull ache or a sharp debilitating pain. Sometimes we feel it during day to day activity, specific exercises, or worse, it keeps us up at night. We seek relief from our doctor and they usually refer us to a physical therapist and we get some relief but as time goes on we find out that the relief is only temporary. We begin battling the same pain and discomfort, so we start reaching for the Advil or the Extra Strength Tylenol even though we know that’s like putting a Band Aid on a broken finger, and our problem doesn’t get fixed. The good news is that we have a solution to chronic problems like lower back pain, knee pain, and shoulder pain.
What sets us apart from traditional remedies like physical therapy, massage, chiropractic, and other methods of personal training is that we implement exercise according to how individual muscles work in harmony with the other muscles in your body and the requirements necessary to translate those exercises to sustain pain-free movement in life outside of the gym. We aren’t saying that those other remedies don’t work or that you shouldn’t try them but if you have tried them and haven’t had any long term relief then you should consider implementing our practices. We aren’t like most gyms, we spend our first few sessions drilling in the basics to establish a firm foundation to operate from. “Basics” meaning, breathing, posture, and proper body mechanics to enhance the way we exercise and improve the way we live.
While other methods look to the area that’s feeling pain to fix the problem sometimes that’s not looking deep enough. By understanding how the muscles in your body connect and what optimal movement should look like we can decode why you experience knee pain every time you take a step. For example, when we walk our torso should rotate to connect our upper body to our lower body, if we aren’t rotating the trunk when we walk then our body compensates in the hip, knee, or ankle joint down the kinetic chain, or into the shoulder joint up the kinetic chain. We analyze the way you walk and move to determine if your body is compensating in one area resulting in pain in another area. Our goal is to get to the source of your pain not simply treat the symptom because that may not be the cause, and if you never get to the real cause you never find long term relief.
Our methods don’t stop there, once we have your pain managed and your foundation established we begin to introduce exercises to retrain your body to hold proper muscle activations. That way when you move your muscles are doing the work and not your joints, so the pain you once experienced doesn’t return.
We’re here to tell you that you don’t have to live with your pain! If you’d like to learn more about how we do what we do and specifics about how we can help your individual needs then please contact us to set up a free phone consultation!
As ambassadors of health it’s important to consider, not only the things you’re putting in your body through nutrition, but also what you’re putting on your body that influences your health. Chemicals that are in many household products, like cleaning supplies and cosmetics can contribute to toxin buildup in your body which will determine your state of health. Toxins easily enter the body when they are applied topically and absorbed through the skin or inhaled and absorbed through the mucous membranes.
Many of the items we use everyday contain amounts of toxic chemicals, from baby powder to artificial sweeteners. We’ll break down some of the most common chemicals you’ll likely encounter so you are aware of the potential health risks.
- Parabens top the list because over use of these can alter the bodies normal hormone function, leading to possible reproductive problems and cancers. Parabens are compounds that are used as a preservatives in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and food industry and can contain the names, methyl, ethyl, propyl, and butyl. Common products that contain parabens are mouisturizers, makeup, creams, and perfumes. Be sure to check the ingredients the next time you grab your favorite product, the same way you would check the quality of ingredients contained in your food.
- Talc comes in a close second because it is a common ingredient in baby powders to treat diaper rash and even reduce body odor. Some products may use talc that contains asbestos which is a known carcinogen, however most cosmetic talc powders are asbestos free. It’s better to play it safe and check the ingredients before you use it. The better option would be to steer clear of talc and choose versions of baby powder made with corn starch.
- Aluminum Zirconium is another chemical that’s found in most deodorants and serves as an antiperspirant which obstructs pores in the skin and prevents sweat from leaving the body. There is some evidence that links aluminum use with Alzheimers disease but other studies suggest that there is no correlation. At the end of the day you can choose to limit the amount of chemicals you put on your body by choosing aluminum free deodorants.
- Propylene Glycol is a chemical that is used to absorb extra water and maintain moisture in certain medications, cosmetics, or food products. It can be used as a less toxic anti-freeze in food processing centers or residential water pipes where accidental indigestion may be possible, it’s also used in common food products like ice cream and artificial sweeteners. The FDA has classified propylene glycol as an additive that is “generally recognized as safe” for use in food, however some studies show that it contributes to skin irritation, neurological symptoms, cardiovascular problems, respiratory issues, potentially toxic to liver and kidneys, probably not safe for infants and children, and may be a pathway for other harmful chemicals. Although it may be safe, the potential health complications are something to avoid by limiting your intake of this chemical.
- Oxybenzone is a common chemical used in sunscreen to absorb ultraviolet light, but some research shows that it can be absorbed through the skin. Experts believe oxybenzone is linked to hormone disruption and cell damage that may lead to skin cancer. Such contradictory information, we need sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, yet some of the sunscreens we use may also contribute to skin cancer… confusion overload. My suggestion is that you try using mineral sunscreens with ingredients like zinc oxide which create a physical barrier on the skin to protect it from the sun, instead of chemical sunscreens which contain potentially harmful ingredients. However, sun exposure is good for health and wellbeing so make sure you get outside to take advantage of the natural Vitamin D! I recommend trying to expose yourself during the times when the UV light is least intense like in the morning and evening and if you do go outside during the afternoon make sure you have access to shade, can cover yourself with clothing, or apply a mineral based sunscreen, and ideally only spending a few hours at a time in the sun as your tolerance to the UV light increases over time.
The purpose of this is to create toxic awareness, not toxic fear or avoidance, because it’s impossible to be completely toxin free. What you can do is pick and choose what you expose yourself to, for example if you can use natural sweeteners instead of artificial sweeteners then you’re able to limit the amount of toxins entering your body. By creating more awareness of what ingredients are in the products we use everyday we can begin to make substitutions that lead to a healthier lifestyle by choosing the natural choice instead of something artificial that contains chemicals that aren’t great for us. If we spend time making decisions about eating healthy food that is natural and doesn’t contain chemicals and preservatives then we should also prioritize the quality of the products we use everyday and limit the amount of toxins we expose ourselves to. Remember that your health and wellbeing is influenced through the quality of the food you eat, what you choose to drink, your physical activity, and also the quality of household and cosmetic products you use.