Tuesday, August 14, 2012

5 Health/Fitness things I like.

Today’s post is simply a list of health and fitness related things that I like.  I use or advocate everyone of these things on a regular basis.  So here they are...

Boar’s Head Deli Meats and Cheeses

I know that there are healthier options out there for eating quality and nutritious lunches but I still like a good old fashioned sandwich.  It is easy to prepare, you can take it anywhere, you don’t need to heat it, and it is cheap.  I make sure my sandwiches have meat, cheese, lots of lettuce, and some dressing(usually mustard and miracle whip). So when it comes to choosing the meat and cheese I always go with Boar’s Head.They use no fillers, gluten, artificial colors or flavors.  A lot of their meats are also backed by the American Heart Association as heart healthy.  They have tons of variety and some really awesome flavors.  Right now I am eating the fiery chipotle chicken breast with swiss cheese.  Even though Boar’s Head is healthier than other deli meats, it is still a deli meat.  So I would limit consumption to once a day.  Other meat servings throughout the day should be from fresh sources.  

TRX Suspension Trainer
I can sometimes get carried away with this piece of equipment.  If you have never heard of it or never used it, then google that sh*t.  It is awesome.  It just might be the most versatile piece of equipment on the market.  I use it with many new clients and enjoy using it often in my own workouts.  It utilizes the user’s bodyweight as resistance, which I highly advocate, and teaches the body to move and stabilize in all planes of motion.  One of the company's slogans is," All core all the time."  It only takes about one minute to get what they are talking about because with every movement you are bracing your core to stabilize your body.  It is extremely functional, easily transported, and really fun.  There is no one piece of equipment that completely does it all, but this one comes close.

GNC Amplified Wheybolic Protein
I like protein shakes for their convenience, low sugar and high protein content, and taste.  They make it easy to ingest good calories to maintain or gain weight without having to eat solid meals all the time.  They are also a post workout staple.  I have tried various proteins and this one seems to taste the best.  I don’t really believe all the hype on the label about how it is 1000% better than other proteins and is endorsed by Chuck Norris himself.  I just want a simple whey protein that tastes good and this one does the job.  It is more expensive, but if you get a GNC member card and buy it the first week of the month it is a good price.  

Foam Roller
A foam roller is a device than can cause just as much pain as pleasure.  You simply place it on the ground and roll your body over it to release tension in your muscles.  You can use it on just about any body segment but my favorite spots are the IT band on the outside of the thigh and hip, and the thoracic spine behind the shoulder blades.  After I taught one client how to roll his upper back he said he stopped going to his chiropractor.  It is that good!

Adidas Samba Shoes
I love things that are classic and this shoe first debuted in the 1970’s... so I would say it is a classic.  I like them because there is not much to them.  They have a thin, flat sole, are made of leather, and are plain black with white stripes.  I am not really into the new fad of displaying an array of neon colors on my feet.  Lately there has been a boom in minimalist shoes that promote natural movement patterns and increase foot and ankle strength.  I think the vibram five finger shoes are a good idea but I cannot stand material between my toes.  So I think these shoes are a great alternative and serve a similar purpose.  They are ideal for weight lifting and general cross training, but I would not log many miles in them.  

So there you have it.  Five things that I like and use.  If you have a list of five things hit me back with them.  Until next time.

 Stay fit,

      Amerson Fitness

Monday, August 6, 2012

To Run or Not to Run

  Running is sometimes a controversial topic in the world of health, fitness, and weight loss.  On the one side you have the meat heads that scoff at the mere thought of running, declaring that is eats away valuable muscle and leaves you looking like skeletor.  Then you have the running purists who praise running as the gold standard for sports, fitness, and life.  Now to some extent both parties are right and both are wrong.  In this post I will discuss the pros and cons of running, who should do it, and offer my recommendation for participation.  
  First, let's talk about the pros of running.  Running is ingrained in our DNA.  It is a fundamental movement pattern that everyone learns at a young age.  In ancient times it allowed man to travel distances quickly and also evade predators.  Today it is the most widely used mode of exercise to gauge cardiovascular fitness.  In almost all academic settings the go-to test of cardiovascular fitness is the Bruce Test which uses a treadmill and running.  To date it is the most valid and reliable test there is.  But, running also has many other benefits.  When done correctly, the mechanics of running promote mobility and flexibility, and also increased coordination and proprioception, or body awareness.  Physiologically running makes a body more efficient at transporting and utilizing oxygen throughout the body.  This translates to less exertion for a given task.  Take for instance walking up a large flight of stairs, say ten stories.  If you are a conditioned runner than I would expect you could make it to the top with minimal discomfort.  However, if the last time you ran was to get the last donut then you would probably be hurting.  
  Next, lets discuss the cons.  As I said previously running is a basic movement pattern that we all learn.  However, most people stop running by adulthood and actually forget how.  They lose the strength, flexibility, and mobility that is required for proper mechanics.  So when Mr. Joe Schmoe decides to lose weight and takes up a running program, he just ends up getting hurt and quitting.  Also, people tend to get carried away with running.  They run and do nothing else... they go all Forest Gump on it.  This leads to overuse injuries, muscle imbalances,  and incomplete overall fitness.  Lastly, the meat heads are partly right in the statement that running eats away valuable muscle.  When someone runs for an extended period of time, like a marathon, the body runs out of energy and starts using stored energy in the muscles.  It is not quite as dramatic as some would have you believe but it does happen.  
  So with these things in mind, who should run?  Well... everybody.  I truly believe that if you do not have an injury or disability that prohibits you from running then you should.  Now, I don't mean that you should train for a marathon but you should run at various speeds and distances on a regular basis.  If you are young and still running regularly then continue to do so.  If you are older and have not run in years then get professional advice before you start.  You can speak with running coaches or talk to people at your local running speciality store.   
 Finally, my recommendation for running is not very scientific.  It is not meant to improve your 5k time or train for any particular distance or event.  It is meant to improve, or maintain, overall fitness, promote weight loss,  and prepare your body for the unexpected.  I tell my wife that I want her to train with sprints and intervals because if she is ever attacked I want her to be able to outrun her attacker.  So here it is in a nutshell:

  Run three times per week.  You can omit or add a day depending on your preference, schedule, and goals.  One of the runs should be a long and steady run of between 1.5 to 3 miles.  That does not mean slow.  It means finding the fastest pace that you can maintain for the duration without slowing down.  The second run of the week should be intervals that last between 1 and 3 minutes.  Again, run the fastest pace you can maintain for the time duration.  A little bit of slowing down it alright but don't over do it. Rest for about 60-90 seconds between intervals.  Continue in the fashion for 10-20 minutes. The third run of the week should be fast sprints.  Find a flat, preferably soft terrain, and run about 100 to 150 meters.  About the size of 1 to 1.5 football fields.  If sprinting hurts that you can run uphill.  This will decrease the velocity of the running but still maintain the intensity.  The sprint should be less than 30 seconds in duration and you should rest 45-90 seconds between repeats.  Do between 5 and 10 total repeats.  

  This is a simple template that you can use to incorporate running into your exercise program.  Just remember that this is just one piece of the puzzle.  I highly recommend various modes of exercise and variety. So get out there and , "Run, Forest, Run!"

Amerson Fitness