Feel Better Fit

Feel Better Fit

Monday, May 12, 2014

Targeting Problem Areas of the Body

Ahhh..."Bingo Wings" strike again! That jiggly loose flesh on our triceps region is a pain! I have good and bad news. First the good news, I do have help for you. Next the bad news, the "Bingo Wings" are stretched out skin with fat in them and you cannot do any specific exercise to "target" fat in a specific area. If you could, gum chewers would all have skinny faces.

I know ads say this or that exercise will target….

Unfortunately it is scientifically impossible to spot reduce (remove fat from one area by doing a specific exercise). This is why. Fat is stored in our bodies much like gas is stored in a tank. The fat cells all work simultaneously to store or burn this energy resource. Unlike a car, our tanks grow. We do not choose where our tanks (fat cells) exist in our bodies. This is heredity. If most of my fat was in my lower body (common in many women) and I spent many hours daily using and upper body ergometer (bike wheel you turn with your hands.) ...then added seated upper body exercises and reduced my caloric intake: I WOULD ACTUALLY LOSE FAT ON MY LOWER BODY!!!! My arms might even get bigger from the muscles I was building there if I really pushed it hard. 

I always feel so sorry for the girls with big thighs at the gym doing all the lower body exercise machines thinking this is the way to lose the fat there. Any exercise will help and they would be so much better off with a well rounded program that actually focused on building upper body muscle, while losing lower body fat. Result - a more hour glass shape!

Do not despair! We still have ways to work on a specific area.

Remember this is loose skin with excess fat so...

1. You are already building your engine capacity to burn the excess fat reserves on your arms by lifting weights.
2. Both your weight lifting and cardio sessions are burning up fat. If you only do cardio, you will burn up muscle too (not good!!!) This is why I have you doing both. I will have another blog post on this called:
“Body sculpting” It will give more detail.

Kathryn Upper Body
Now to get specific on how to attack the “Bingo Wings”. (I call it the Queen’s wave. Arm lifted gently waving but another wave is going on below!)

1. The Bicep and Triceps exercises (and shoulder to a degree) will start to fill up the extra skin and create FIRM defined muscles; simultaneously, you will be reducing the fat there (and all over your body) – the extra unnecessary fat just jiggles. The workouts you are receiving, along with cardio and diet will reshape everything.

When it is all said and done, nothing short of plastic surgery will remove older stretched out skin. However, as we age, as long as what is under the looser skin is firm and has a healthy amount of fat (rather than excess), it will look great!

Keep in mind also that we all have areas we do not like but we all have areas we do. That is because everyone has fat somewhere or other. My best friend used to walk in my office at the gym and say, “I wish I had your legs.” I carry very little fat on my legs and her body fat is much more prevalent from the hips down (giving her a tiny cute waist that I will never have!)

One day when she pined, I said, “OK, deal, I will trade my legs for your waist.”

“Hmmm…maybe I should be happy for what I have.” was her response. Truthfully, she loved her tiny waist and she liked her girly hips. I am very square and more boxy shaped than most girls. We really must be grateful for how beautiful we are and then do our best to work on sculpting as best as we can. I work on building bigger shoulders and butt to detract from the straight look of my body. It works! It makes my body much shapier than it would be otherwise.

I will help you with these areas and steer you in the best direction for your specific shape!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Love Your Body

I just think it needs to be said: Bodies are amazing and people are amazing in all different shapes and sizes! Fitness isn't skinny, nor is it buff. It's well being in all its forms. Seeing what a body is capable of athletically is exciting to me in the same way that I'm amazed seeing my 18 month old grandson dance like he's an MTV star, never missing a beat and giving me all his newest moves. People are amazing!

I have met in life, a few too many people who objectify others; ie: treat them as objects they might gain something from, sizing them up, rather than seeing them as amazing individuals to share life's experiences with, learn from and bond with. And, of course, as a trainer, I meet a lot of confused people who have been scarred by others objectifying them and destroying their self confidence...leaving them feeling never quite good enough. I've personally battled others' demons thrust upon me to devalue me and I've overcome! You can too!

You're beautiful! -Inside and out! Now love your self and take care of your "machinery" so you can love others with all you've got! Love your jiggles and wiggles too! Love your curves and huggable parts! And if you don't have any of those, love what you do have! Enjoy the piece of art that you are! Embellish it if you so choose to! Appreciate all the other "art" around you!

Message me if you need some level headed fitness direction! This is my passion: To help others improve their lives!

Share this post please, to help me help others. Let me know if you would be interested in an online training program, utilizing videos. Your interest may drive my business in that direction!

Celebrate Success!
Learn From Mistakes!
Keep Going Forward!

Feel Better Fit!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Balancing A Fit Lifestyle

Look at my crazy family in action and you'll know that humans are happiest when we move, laugh, enjoy...We ARE Bodies In Motion! Preserving and enhancing the ability to move freely and feel great is the goal of my company, Feel Better Fit

I am not trying to turn everyone into a body builder. Some individuals are born athletes or discover their passion for athletics or competitive weight lifting and that's wonderful. My purpose, however, is to improve lives through fitness educating, training and mentoring. Part of the process of change is learning and practicing; developing new habits and even cleaning and cleansing. It can be likened to taking a class. Eventually, the rigorous part is over and it's implementation time!

A big part of adopting the overall fitness lifestyle is being flexible with the dips and peaks of normal daily life. It's a lifestyle, not a job. In the beginning, change feels like a job because we're learning, sorting things out and developing new habits. All of this takes concentration and will power.

It's human nature to get caught up in this and get too focused; even become negative in our self evaluation. Avoid being harsh on yourself. Don't give in to discouragement nor fall into an obsessed mindset. The goal is self education and improvement. Adopt and adapt into a better overall way of living. Value your accomplishments and refuse to be self critical! You've come a long way! You've seen your body has some pretty amazing potential you weren't aware of!

Becoming and staying fit is like having a pet. It requires some commitment but it shouldn't rule the household. There's training involved and changes but eventually they become a daily routine. Some things get abandoned. Some become normal. Others are intermittent. It should enhance your life, not control it.

When your pet annoys you, you remember how much joy he/she also gives you and why he/she is around. Then you figure out if this is a passing moment of annoyance or something you need to address.
Haha, relationships with humans aren't much different I guess! Appreciating value in anything ENHANCES it's value and enjoyment of it! Focusing on the negative just takes away all the joy in life!

Back to the pet analogy - Jubilee was my best friend (chow) for many years. I never felt scared living out in the boonies, despite not having a man in the house. She was right there at my feet wherever I went and loved me endlessly! She didn't chew furniture, bark or mark the house. I had trained her not to touch food unless it was in her bowl and she NEVER did! She was very private so she only pooped in the woods lol! She was nearly a perfect dog!

Then she lost bladder control while sitting or sleeping. She was pretty old, so I went to the vet thinking I would find out that she had some incurable disease. I was prepared to face the painful task of putting her to sleep. BUT, she just needed a pill every day! Problem solved! I crushed it into a smidgen of canned food each morning and she lived on, as my best friend for quite a few more years.

Right after she died, for the first time ever, I felt scared leaving for work at 4am in the dark. It didn't occur to me me right away why I was scared. Then I realized Jubilee wasn't just my best friend, she was my body guard too. I still miss her "love" and companionship that she always gave immeasurably! No wonder kings had chows for pets!

So when your new "pet" - a healthier lifestyle gets in the way, set limits, put up fences, do some research or one on one training; get expert advice if needed. DON'T forget the benefits or let the "pet" rule your life! DON'T throw out the baby with the bath water! Clean things up in your mindset. It may be that you need to morph to the next stage of becoming fit. This may be maintenance or a new pursuit....or just slowing down a bit, if momentum has got you out of control! I can promise you that if you "lose" your fitness altogether, you will see all of the things about it that you took for granted! You will miss your "body guard"!

Life can be a pendulum swing. We're WAY out of whack in an area, so we swing WAY too far (mentally anyway) in the opposite direction. This is OK at first. It helps us to get away from bad habits and really feel the effects of change. However, we need to settle the pendulum into the center - get balanced! Take stock of the positive benefits of our learning experience and determine to be flowing and flexible always.

Life is fluid, not rigid! Growth is fun! Enjoy it! Don't focus on the workout you didn't do or the cookies you ate. Remind yourself that you used to sit on the couch and eat the whole bag after scarfing down Mac n Cheese for dinner. Now you have learned why to eat lots of veggies, drink lots of water and limit empty calories. You know cholesterol only comes from animal products and how much is a safe amount daily that you can ingest before running the risk of blocking up your arteries! You are aware of all the hidden garbage and empty calories that you didn't know existed in your diet. You'll still eat the foods that have them, but you will limit the intake. Ahhh...now you understand why he/she could easily say, "I'll just take a small slice. Thanks!" It was education and experience, not self control that inspired and empowered your friend!

You used to think you were weak and just not able to do physically challenging things. Now you know what you are capable of. You have learned that your body responds to challenging physical activity by adapting...becoming stronger!  You use to think you were "a bit of a glutton, with no self control" lol. Now you understand the blood sugar roller coaster that was affecting your system and telling you what to do! You know that some of those snack cravings were just thirst in disguise. You grew some new taste buds and found out appetites can be retrained to like new things! You know how damaging it is to starve yourself! You know muscles are your body engine and do not want to lose them. You've been freed by education and diligence! You can apply these principles in other areas of growth too!

You've learned tricks to cleanse your body when its stuck in a rut, on the sugar roller coaster or habitually eating badly. You've been enlightened about some of the myths. You understand better how the body machine works. You can take all this now and fly where you want with it! You'll probably eat salad dressing part of the time but now, when you do, you will likely have it "on the side". And when your pants get snug, you'll switch to lemon juice for awhile and start exercising again! The difference is that now you know how to safely do it!

Unless you're a gardener, you don't habitually plant gardens however you do cut the grass regularly and trim bushes and fertilize when needed. You may even spray some weed killer or spread some seeds!
The point is, you don't have to be an all out athlete or body builder to Feel Better Fit, but you will benefit if you continue to:
...cut the grass, fertilize, trim, weed, sow seeds and maybe you'll even plant a award winning garden once in awhile.

The naked truth is that I was a figure competitor and power lifter. I learned amazing things about my self and I will always be grateful for that. I am not either of those now! I go days or weeks without lifting a weight, taking a jog, hanging from my homemade suspension gear or making up dance/exercise routines in my dining room. I am still a fitness/movement/nutrition enthusiast! I recently started running again after months of inactivity and within a few weeks ran farther than I have ever gone! I set a new personal record for myself. If I had stopped exercising all together because I became self-defeating toward myself when life was too busy...if I had ignored the nagging desire to "hit the pavement" because I knew there would be some catch-up conditioning involved...I would've missed this milestone!

Why am I not always regimented? I have a life! I don't lose every benefit when I choose other activities or responsibilities. I still am active, fit and know what I am capable of! I miss it when I don't have time for it but it will be there when I return from other pursuits. I try new things and re-invent fun on a regular basis. 

Let fitness be your tool to free you, not your master to control you! Stay balanced! Stay positive! Keep improving and being a body in motion!

Celebrate Success! Learn From Mistakes!
Keep Going Forward!

Feel Better Fit!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Cross Training Works!

Hi Kathryn,

I need some advice. I have done many miles of biking this summer. My legs are strong and I am feeling fit! How can I stay in shape over the winter when it is too cold to bike? I don’t want to lose the strength I have gained. I go walking but this does not push me as hard as biking does. 
IS there a better way to walk? I love to be outdoors. I cannot run because it hurts my joints Do I need an exercise bike or other machine?

Thanks for your advice. AF

Hi AF,

Great question!

Cross training is always recommended for any athlete that does a repetitive movement. This occurs in most every sport, biking included. Off season is a good time to do more cross training. The objective is two-fold: Reduce Injuries, Improve Performance

1.     Train in a more varied, hence balanced fashion. This limits sprains and tears, rubbing of connective tissue and also improves overall performance ability by recruiting lazy supporting muscles. Exercises should recruit other supporting muscles or surrounding muscles, while still utilizing the same groups you use in your sport or activity.
2.     Work the necessary muscles (the tools of your sport) in different ways. Achieve/maintain maximum strength in the necessary muscles in ways besides the typical repetitive motion required by the activity. Hence reducing the amount of breakdown on the cushioning material between the joints that are moving.

Example: Strength type movements like:

Uphill Walking outdoors or on a treadmill
Stepper, Elliptical, Stairmaster
Hamstring Exercises might be useful also or calf raises.
Water Walking
Jumping on a mini tramp
Suspension Training (Recruits weak supporting muscles, increasing overall performance)
Lunges or Squats Side squats (shown here) would be valuable for you!
Side to Side Squats
Add a Jump to the movement
for more benefits!

The key is: Variety of Training gives a more balanced body which reduces the risk of overuse injuries while increasing overall strength and performance!

Imbalance refers to strengthening some muscles while neglecting to strengthen others and/or over tightening some areas while over stretching others. Overuse Injuries – This refers to injuries that are the result of repeating a similar movement over and over. This creates imbalance which may tug the joint out of alignment causing rubbing of tendons and ligaments or wearing away cartilage. Over use may also lead to tears and strains of muscles that are “over-used”. Remember many, if not most of athletic injuries are due to overuse.

Cross training may also provide you with the added benefit of maintaining your Cardiovascular Fit Levels while “resting and repairing” your “over used” tissue.

Year Round Cross Training is your best course of action with extra during off season.

So be glad for the cold months; a blessing in disguise as you try some new activities that strengthen in new ways! Continue those activities in limited ways during your active seasons for continued benefits and optimum balance and strength!

Now, go have fun!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Hydrating for exercise

Weight loss tip
If you want to eat when you should not be hungry, you may be masking thirst with hunger. Drink water first. Wait 15 minutes and see if that diminishes the desire to eat.

You have probably heard those narrators on the National Geographic specials say things like "Water is life." They may sound overly dramatic, but they are right.

Staying hydrated is not rocket science! It may be one of the easiest ways to improve your overall health!

We humans are more than 70% water. We begin to get dehydrated and our performance drops off with as little as a 2% water loss. What can cause a 2% water loss? It does not take much. It can happen to an athlete who is competing, to someone who is in bed with the flu or diarrhea, in very hot weather, or even to someone who just does not drink enough.

No water, no go....
What happens to your body when you’re dehydrated?

• Your brain will not work properly – you’ll be groggy, slow, and feel out of it.

• You will lose muscle tone.

• Your kidneys will not be able to function; toxins and wastes will back up in your body, making you feel generally crummy.

• You will have trouble regulating your body temperature; you may feel overheated, or you may feel chronically cold and unable to get warm.

• You will get constipated.

• Fats stored in your body won’t get used up or metabolized.

• You will think you are hungry all the time, and so you will be likely to eat more than you need to.

• Your skin will get dry, itchy, and saggy.

Most articles you read recommend 8 to 12 glasses of water a day for healthy individuals. If you’re thinking, "That’s A LOT of water," remember this refers to 8 oz glasses! Your 24 oz water bottle equals 3 of your servings. Here are some conditions that may require greatly increasing the amount of water you drink:

• You are exercising.

• The weather is warm.

• You are on a high fiber diet or taking a fiber supplement. (Fiber uses up lots of water.)

• You are trying to lose weight. Some people worry that if they drink too much water they’ll get bloated. This really is not true. Your body only stores as much water as it needs. The rest it dumps out unless you have a health problem that is causing fluid build-up.

• You are in a high altitude area, where the air tends to be drier and evaporation occurs faster.

• You are traveling, especially in airplanes where the same air is re-circulated over and over again, which also may make the air drier.

• You spend most of your time indoors, where there is little fresh air.

• You have an acute illness – like a cold or a bladder infection. Fevers, vomiting, diarrhea all cause you to lose or use up large amounts of water, which needs to be replaced.

Important Tips to remember:

• Drinks with caffeine can be counter productive. They cause you to lose water by increasing your urine output. So, if you use caffeinated drinks, increase your water intake as well. If your fluid intake is restricted to begin with, you may want to avoid entirely, or at least greatly limit, caffeinated beverages. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, colas, and some other soft drinks.

• Sports drinks and juices do help you replace water, but they contain lots of calories. They are also expensive. If you are not a heavy-duty exerciser, sports drinks really are not necessary.  They are no better than plain water. And, if you are watching your weight, they may have far more calories than you want!

• Finally, know that your thirst sensation runs quite a bit slower than your body’s need for water. By the time you realize that you are feeling thirsty, your body will already be suffering from drought. Most experts suggest that you drink before you get thirsty. If you’re exercising; even if you are just pushing a long distance, drink water before, during, and after.

It does take a little effort...
It might not be that easy to develop the habit of getting in 12 glasses of water a day! Here are some suggestions:

• Keep a water bottle with you. Or start the day with a gallon jug and empty it!

• Drink before meals, when you’re hungry, rather than afterwards, when you are already full.

• Try to do most of your drinking in the morning and early afternoon so there is time for all that water to be eliminated before bedtime.

Don’t waste your drinking efforts on things that won’t help: coffee, many teas, colas, etc. A smaller amount of water will be more advantageous than a larger amount of many other beverages.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

All is well with my soul

Beautiful, PERFECT, peaceful moment on my porch swing, getting great messages from Silvana abut how well they are doing; I have this huge...."aaahhhh...it's finished" feeling. All is well, at last! What a year!
With all three of my married children giving me my first three grandsons, there has been tons of excitement, planning, parties, pregnant ailments...etc. But as silently as I could, I've f...ought many concerns and worries. I guess that's one of Grandma's jobs.
I won't list all the mini crises and well founded concerns, we all experienced as a family building a new generation. Suffice it to say, "It is well with my soul!" I have three beautiful mommies and grandsons. three proud, responsible, loving daddies to care for them and an unspeakable joy pouring out of my heart for how beautifully we are all blessed!
A brand new journey has started now and I can definitely say, these three little wonders, Saul, Abel and Silas have cemented together our family bonds in amazing new ways! I'm filled with a new excitement now at the crazy, fun filled days ahead for my ever growing MASSIVE family! I think we have successfully given sustenance to the term so many have applied to us, "The Raposo (n now, Malove) Clan!See More

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Kinetic Chain

Picture a tow truck with a massive chain, pulling a large vehicle out of deep mud. Now, replace a few links of the chain with a weak small chain. Despite the strength of the larger links or the power of the tow truck, the job is impossible. The weaker links fail.

The body in movement is very similar to the chain of the tow truck. If any required areas are weak, the body is unable to complete the desired task. If pushed beyond capacity, the weaker links will break and injury will result. Unlike the tow truck chain, in the human "chain", when weak links are protected, other areas jump in to do the job, effectually overstraining themselves. The outcome; the weak gets weaker, the strong become over worked and tight and movement is imbalanced, risking the tearing of connective tissue and the wearing out of joint padding as bones unevenly rub across joints. Eventually, we hear cracking of ligaments and crunching of bone on bone. The resulting deterioration of joints is responsible for many aches and pains.

Osteoarthritis, degenerative disk disease, sciatic nerve pain, fibromyalgia, sometimes even migraine headaches find their true cause, or bare minimum an inflaming of symptoms related to muscle imbalance. Most of these issues can at least find some relief from strengthening and balancing the kinetic chain.

We hear alot about core strength, and rightly so. In an age of "sit and slump" at a desk, in a vehicle, in front of a TV, and even on exercise equipment, we are prone to neglect the core of our body. I'm thrilled that everywhere, people are getting up and moving their bodies!

Now, it's time to address HOW we move! The next step in overall body health and strength improvement is to create more balanced movement in general, and specifically to strengthen the "weaker links" in the kinetic chain. There are several areas of the body that trainers see neglected and in need of strengthening. Overall, I find the muscles that surround the shoulder blades to be the most common area of weakness in most individuals. Unfortunately, many common ailments are either caused or negatively affected by this inferior "link" in the chain of everyday movement.

Do your current physical activities strengthen or weaken the area between, below and around the shoulder blades? Does it really matter? What spinal position do you spend the majority of your workday in? Do you experience any shoulder pain (front, back or shooting down the side of arm), neck, middle or lower back pain?

The region of the upper back spanning from neck to just below the shoulder blade, and across the back, virtually from arm pit to arm pit is probably the weakest link in the kinetic chain for most people. This holds true, especially for those who spend long hours at a computer. It can also be a problem for athletes because, with very few exceptions, sports usually strengthen muscles in the front of the upper body more than the back.

Most workouts neglect the majority of the 17 muscles attached to each shoulder blade, resulting in an imbalance in upper body movement. An old trainer's adage holds true, "Most people only train what they can see in the mirror." Not only can we not see the upper middle back without strategically placing mirrors to do so, most people can't even reach it, due to opposing tightness in the front of the upper body! In my many years training athletes, competitors, kids, seniors, post rehab patients and average exercisers, I have found this to be the overall MOST neglected area on almost everyone and unfortunately the underlying cause of most shoulder and neck injuries. Weakness in this area also contributes to lower back problems.

Babies are born with a concave curve in the spine reflecting the snuggled fetal position. Almost immediately, an instinctive impulse to "see the world" kicks in and the infant struggles to lift the head (or when being held upright, to thrust backward). This lifting movement strengthens the muscles supporting the spine in preparation for bearing the weight of standing and eventually walking. As the muscles strengthen, the spine realigns out of its former curve and into the optimal position to evenly and safely distribute body weight for upright movement.

Unfortunately, as we age, life's burdens tend to lean us back forward into the prenatel position, wreaking havoc on the discs and bones of the spine, while also stretching out and weakening the upper back and rotator cuff muscles. The resulting slumping position rolls shoulders and entire upper body weight forward, putting tremendous pressure on the lower back. I don't even need to start discussing how much damage this does to the lower back. It would be a conservative estimate to say that 75% of people have some type of lower back malady by the time they reach their 30th birthday!

I'm guessing, right this moment, your straightening up out of the slumping position you assumed to read this. You may also be lifting your rib cage, stretching out the chest, considering that pain you've between concerned about or the stiffness in your lower back.

Now settle back into your comfy little forward slump and think about your belly. The abdominal muscles are totally at rest in this position, while the lower back is both stretched and strained simultaneously. Ideally, in any upright position, the entire core, both front and back muscles are recruited simultaneously. If we could trigger tiny lights in each muscle fiber as it's fired, we would see a sparkling light show of constant movement around the core of our body as it balances the mass weight of the head, shoulders, arms, back and chest. So, if the majority of your day, the light show (especially in the abdominals) turns off....well, you really can't expect it to easily jump into action at command, much less display an amazing six pack at the beach!

By now, I hope the importance of addressing weaker areas of the kinetic chain, is starting to take it's rightful place of importance in your quest for improving your health and fitness. Even adequate breathing is constrained by the slumping forward position that compresses the diaphragm, preventing full aspiration of the lungs. Like most insidious bad habits, this one sneaks into our sitting, standing and moving norms and then strengthens its own cycle unless we actively work on reversing it. Follow the example of the newborn, "training" the weak muscles to "see" what they're missing out on, and you will most likely be physically rejuvenated while diminishing aches and pains, achieving greater overall strength and presenting a more attractive, confident stance. Like mom said, "Stand up straight!"

I include a variety of exercises, addressing upper back and shoulder stability in my client's training programs, as well as in my own workouts. I'll be introducing a number of these, complete with tips and pictures to assist you in proper form. Of course, an awareness of good posture usually arises when we begin to address this problem area. Hopefully, this will spill over into your everyday activities and help you develop a lifestyle conducive to strengthening your entire upper body for greater balance and strength.

Here's a great suspension exercise that targets this area:

1. Hold arms dirctly above head to find starting position.
2. Keep feet in that position and drop into a squat.
3. Use lower body to raise yourself up while lifting arms above head. Near top, start using arms to complete lift, while squeezing shoulder blades back and down.
4. Afer reaching top (shoulder blades squeezed firmly back and down) return to squat position and repeat.

Keep arms straight throughout movement. Use as much lower body as needed, then allow arms to start working when they are able.