Identifying the Weakest Link

Posted: August 9, 2014 in Articles, Golf

Often times when clients come in for their first personal training session, they have many fitness goals that they want to work on. Usually, I agree with the changes someone may be trying to make, but other times the efforts we spend towards a client’s goal may be better served in other areas. Either way, I am happy to help someone meet whatever fitness goals they may have. After all, it is their body on which we are working and from the client’s perspective progress towards those goals are paramount.
However, a big problem that often times can thwart ones efforts in achieving fitness goals is the presence of too many goals. When someone tries to tackle numerous goals at one time it can be very difficult for the body to make the changes a client wishes to see. Also, there is only so much time in the day and in a session for a client to work on the goals they have set. If someone sets too many goals, it takes more time than it should to meet their goals or even more frequently the goal may not be met. Professional athletes rarely try to work on more than one fitness goal within an offseason and I don’t feel you should either.
Another problem that often foils an individual’s fitness goal is the frequent changing of those goals. In order to accomplish a goal, consistency is the most important factor, regardless of how well planned one’s workout may be. An individual cannot expect to see any progress when they only spend two days per week for a few weeks working on their goal. Improving fitness takes time! More importantly it takes focus.
One of the fastest ways to meet your fitness goals, is to identify the weakest link in one’s body and then to focus your fitness goals on improving that link. The weakest link in the chain is always the one that breaks and a chain is only is strong as its weakest link…These are all cliché sayings we have heard. In regards to fitness, a person’s weak link may include but not be limited to a limitation in mobility, stability, balance, strength, a specific part of the body or diet. Assessing and addressing one’s weakest link can be the difference in walking with or without pain, hitting a shot in the woods or in the fairway, or life and death.
Interestingly, when someone addresses the weakest link it is not uncommon to see other subsequent fitness goals improve. For example, when someone with severe balance issues addresses their issue, not only does their walking improve, but their golf game may improve as well as the strength in their legs. Someone who improves their core stability may not only relieve their back pain, but may also find that their shoulder range of motion improves and their general fatigue levels decrease. However, if an individual cannot focus their goals and identify which goals are best for them, progress towards the goals they set will be slow, if any progress is made at all.

Here is the first article I wrote for the Highlands Newspaper a few years back….I thought I’d share it.

Research shows us that the number one reported reason for physical inactivity among adults is the lack of time to exercise. Most adults are conflicted with working and raising families either in single parent homes or homes which both parents work. Many adults spend their days commuting to work and dragging their children across town to school and extracurricular activities. By the end of the day, most people just do not have time to exercise…Supposedly…
I have two arguments with research regarding this issue and it stems from the fact that the research is based on the individual’s perception of their time. My first argument is that we all only have 24 hours in a day and most people have numerous activities that fill their day. Yet there are plenty of people who get the recommended amount of exercise each week. There are CEO’s of major companies who work long hours, raise families and still manage to squeeze in sufficient amounts of exercise. I see super mom’s and super dad’s all the time who run a small business, work at a school, or work for private companies that find a way to make time for exercise. So, why can’t everyone find time to exercise?
My second argument against adults who claim they don’t have time to exercise is that they still find time to watch television or get on Facebook. I am guilty of this, I spend way too much time watching television and on the computer and I always complain about not having enough time. I would be willing to bet that if people would turn off the TV’s and computers at home and spent that time exercising they would exceed the recommendations for physical activity suggested by health organizations. I feel that it is not that people do not have the time to exercise, but it is more that they choose not to spend their time being physically active.
For those who still feel like they do not have enough time to exercise, here is some good news….It does not take that much time being physically active to gain major health benefits. The CDC suggests 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and two days of total body resistance training each week. That breaks down to 30 minutes a day if your workouts are efficient. If you feel like you do not have 30 minutes a day, workout harder! If you participate in activities that are intense enough to make it difficult to carry on a conversation you can cut the 150 minutes of aerobic activity to 75 minutes, which is only 15 minutes a day. I think we can all find 15 minutes a day to help prevent things like heart disease and cancer so we can stay around a little longer for our friends and family….or is there not enough time in your day?

Labor Day Swim

Posted: October 10, 2013 in Articles, Exercises, Thought of the Day
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On Labor Day, Diana Nyad completed her childhood dream of swimming the more than one hundred mile distance between Cuba and the Florida Keys, becoming the first person to do so without a protective cage. Not only did Nyad have to complete this journey without a protective cage, for her record to be official, she had to swim continuously until the journey was complete. This requirement caused eating and staying hydrated to be a difficult task. Additionally, staying awake for fifty three hours straight was a bit of a challenge as well. Perhaps the most difficult part of Nyad’s swim was the large amount of salt water she ingested with every breath caused by the protective jellyfish mask she wore, which put her in a severely dehydrated state.

To me, act of athleticism did not seem like much fun. Initially, this appeared to be a senseless act to accomplish a personal goal and not to mention, downright crazy. I told one of my clients that if they ever hear about me participating in such a heroic endeavor, to find me and remind me that it is not something I want to do. Conversely, the truth is there is much to learn from Nyad’s swim. The truth is I have nothing but respect for what was accomplished. The efforts put into preparing for the swim and the extreme conditions that were endured are something we all should admire.

However, what I admire most about Nyad’s Labor Day swim is that she completed this swim on her fifth try and at sixty four years of age. Let me be clear, I do not feel sixty four is old. Undoubtedly, Diana Nyad has proven that. But, I don’t think any of us would blame a sixty four year old for giving up on such a physically exhausting goal, especially after failing on four previous attempts over the past thirty five years. But, she didn’t give up. She continued to improve both mentally and physically. Nyad didn’t care that she was sixty four; she simply wanted to get better. She wanted to accomplish a goal, set a record and catch the dream she had been chasing since she was eight!

While Nyad’s swim was a bit crazy, it was not just a senseless act to accomplish a personal goal. Nyad swam to inspire us to not give up and to prove that we are never too old to chase our dreams. Many of us may not be old or ever dream of attempting a physical feat such as previously described. But, I hope we are at least inspired to undertake a new task which may have previously seemed unattainable, continue to work on a previous goal that may have become too challenging and realize that we shouldn’t let trivial difficulties get in the way of things that would be beneficial, fun and enjoyable.

Here is a sneak peak of an article I just wrote for my new job in Palm Beach!

As golfers, each time we go out on the course we want to improve upon the performance of our previous round. Many of us will practice the various aspects of our game for hours in hopes of improving our score one or two strokes. Also, to assure that we are playing our best golf we research, experiment with and analyze the equipment we use to find the optimal clubs, balls and other golf paraphernalia that will put us in the best position to play well.

While practice and equipment are certainly very important parts of a good golf game, an investment in the performance of one’s own body may be the most important aspect of golf. Unfortunately this is often times overlooked. In order to play elite golf, simply having an able body is not enough. If focused practice and good equipment was all a golfer needed to be great, we would all be great at golf. The biggest difference between a professional golfer on the tour and the guy who cannot get on the tour is the difference in what they can do with their body. They both have access to top equipment, and spend hours practicing their golf game, however one achieves success and the other does not. Therefore, the golfer needs to have their body functioning in its top condition to really have an advantage.

The good news is scientific research and lots of experience is showing us what forms of exercise work best for golfers. Programs such as the Titleist Performance Institute and the National Academy of Sports Medicine are giving us great information as to how to screen golfers for weaknesses and mobility restrictions which directly impact golf game. This year we have comprised a golf fitness team here at Lost Tree which is more than qualified to help maximize your body’s potential, so you can get the most out of your golf swing. We will be offering group exercise classes, special one on one personal training sessions for pre golf warm ups, golf movement screens and much more. Please contact the Lost Tree Spa and Fitness Center for more information and keep an eye out for informational sessions about golf fitness.

Sitting is the New Smoking

Posted: September 29, 2013 in Articles

The health detriments of smoking tobacco products are numerous, severe and well documented. I am sure, this is not earth shattering news. In fact, we have known about the negative impacts of smoking to the human body for over a half century. Smoking cigarettes used to be a normal part of everyday life for so many people. Smoking was as casual as chewing a piece of gum or having a glass of wine. However, when people started to see the impact smoking was having on their health and the health of others the perception of smoking changed to a more negative view…Again, I am sure you already know this.

However, what you may not know is that the health effects of sitting, or being inactive throughout your day, can be as bad as the health effects of smoking. Smoking is strongly linked to cancer and heart disease, amongst other things. Guess what, so is sitting! Those who accumulate more time sitting as opposed to those who move more often throughout the day suffer from health problems such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and premature death. Many of us may get an hour or two of exercise on most days, which I cannot discourage in any way shape or form. However, how do we spend the rest of our day? If we spend a lot of our time sitting (4 hours or more according to research) we are putting ourselves at health risks similar to those of smoking….even if you get to the gym for an hour a day.

I know in previous articles I have discussed staying active throughout your entire day, not just when you go to the gym. I cannot stress this to you enough; sitting is so bad for us. Humans are not designed to be idle, so sitting disrupts our natural processes. Metabolically, we burn about three times more calories (one calorie per minute) standing than we do sitting. By standing, our metabolic machine breaks down fat more efficiently and keeps our blood sugar at a more constant level. From an orthopedic or a biomechanical stand point, sitting absolutely wrecks our bodies. Our hip flexors become short and anterior structures of the body become more dominant. Over time this affects our movement patterns and can prevent us from engaging in physical activities we enjoy either because of muscle tightness, joint pain and joint dysfunction.

Again, this material regarding physical activity may be information you already know and somewhat redundant. It is not my intention to be repetitive. My intention is to change your perception of physical inactivity similar to how many of you have changed your perception of smoking over the past fifty years. Many of you have quit smoking, chosen to sit in non-smoking sections of restaurants or have avoided situations where people are smoking to improve your health while also discouraging others from smoking. The same can be done with sitting. Instead of sitting while you read maybe you can stand and read. Many people now work at mobile desks, which are basically treadmills with a desk attached. Go to the gym and watch your favorite show on the treadmill or do some yoga while you watch golf. Or go for a walk with a friend instead of sitting to chat. I promise the gossip will be just as good!

Non training physical activity…..? Sounds like a contradicting statement doesn’t it? However, many people who workout both regularly and intensely have a hard time meeting their fitness goals because they are not physically active throughout the rest of their day. Sure, getting to the gym for a full body resistance training session, walking a brisk 3 miles at a high incline on the treadmill or sweating profusely on the elliptical for thirty minutes are great activities that you should be doing. But you need to be active the other 14-16 hours you are awake as well.

Many of you work very hard at during your bouts of exercise, unfortunately the amount of calories we think we burn is much higher than what we actually expend during a workout. Often times after finishing a workout I feel like I have burned thousands of calories to discover I have only burned 600. Furthermore, most of us (myself included) eat more calories in a day than we should. So, when we return home from our morning workout and fulfill the rest of our day sitting at our computer, our desk, watching TV or various other sedentary activities, we still end up at a calorie surplus. Also, when we sit for long periods of times throughout the day we totally turn off our muscles in our core and legs negating that tough weight lifting session or abs class.

Our body is not meant to do physical activity for 30 minutes or an hour, four to five days a week. It is meant to do some sort of physical activity for numerous hours just about every day. Sure, we are not designed to be able to lift heavy weights from dawn until dusk, but we are capable of doing 30 minutes of resistance training, taking a mid-day walk and a little afternoon gardening. Your body is also capable of doing some other physical activities in between these events. Granted, we all need a little rest, but we need to move more than we rest. There are numerous things we can do to boost the amount of non-training physical activity throughout the day. Work around the house is a good calorie burner and strength builder. Shopping can help boost your activity if you choose to walk from shop to shop. Golf is always a good physical activity to do throughout your day…..Of course, carrying your bags and not using a cart is a better way to add to that non training physical activity! There are plenty of opportunities to be active throughout the day and if you are really committed to meeting your health and fitness goals, you will find ways to keep moving.

The industry of health, fitness and exercise is a rapidly growing field, both in knowledge and in demand. New equipment, workout schemes, online workouts and video workouts are being produced, refined and used. Group exercise instructors and trainers are needed everywhere from Los Angeles to Highlands. Scientists discover new evidence of the importance of exercise seemingly every day and also find new ways to maximize exercise modalities for various groups of people.

There is a plethora of information available to anyone with access to a computer or a personal trainer regarding this industry. This is a blessing and a curse. The information in regards to fitness and exercise can be misunderstood, misused or inappropriate for some individuals. Or, the information can make positive life changes for individuals. Needless to say, information regarding this industry can be both conflicting and confusing even to a fitness professional such as me. The information regarding exercise, in addition to all of the gadgets and gismos one can buy to use during workouts, can make a person feel unsure how to go about choosing, designing and implementing the best workout for them.

Throughout my first four years here at HCC I have enjoyed answering many questions about fitness, usually which regard some sort of comparison. Questions like, “should I walk or ride the bike?” Or, “is yoga better than Pilates?” Or, “Do I need a trainer, or is it better if I exercise on my own?” All of which are valid questions. In the past (and probably I will continue to in the future) I have given lengthy explanations on the positives and negatives of both things in question. Truth be told, there are not many negatives to most movement forms. However, there may be things that are better for certain individuals, or certain situations, but as long as someone is moving I feel they are doing something right!

Eventually, I reach a point in my explanations where I discuss how one’s effort towards the exercise is of most importance….and it is! This could be physical effort, such as pushing oneself to increase the intensity of an exercise or mental effort like when someone commits to modifying one’s daily schedule to allow for a workout. Over the years I have used a lot of words to try to get the point across that the significance of what you do for exercise is not as important as to how you exercise.

Over this past winter I realized that the best way I could sum up the point I’ve been trying to get across the past few year is to say that exercise doesn’t work unless you do. You can put as much time, money and hope into improving your fitness, but if you are not willing to go outside of your comfort level and work for the changes you wish to see, your improvement will be minimal at best. There are lots of fitness toys and great ideas about exercise available to people, but these things do not exercise the person; the person must exercise the equipment.

Another Deceiving Product….
So, let’s review: Nutella is not good for you, in any way shape or form (see previous article on Nutella). Ok, now we can move on. I want to mention another tasty product like Nutella, but maybe a bit more deceiving in terms of nutrition. The reason it is deceiving is that it is yogurt, which is supposed to be healthy. For the most part, yogurt is healthy.

However, last July I was introduced to Greek God’s yogurt by one of the many culinary experts at Highlands Country Club. I was floored at how amazing it tasted. The word “heavenly” comes to mind, but does not do this delicious food the justice it deserves. It was so good that I commented I liked it better than ice cream. It was that good…plain. Once I added some pineapple or strawberries to it with a spot of peanut butter and some granola it was a snack that could literally knock your socks off. I made plans to substitute Greek God’s yogurt for my ice cream cravings. This yogurt, such a healthy treat was so tasty it was better than finding the fountain of youth, scoring a perfect score on an SAT or hitting the lottery, it was mind blowing. Peace had been restored throughout the galaxy!

But, thanks to the wonderful educators I have had throughout life who have made me a critical thinker in every situation I experience, I knew this yogurt was too good to be true. I knew that this yogurt had to be a Trojan horse so to speak, carrying unhealthy agents into my body hiding beneath its amazing taste and healthy name. While this product was yogurt, and was Greek, it only took a glance at the ingredient list to realize it was not healthy. The first item on this list (which is also the most concentrated ingredient) stated that this savory dairy treat was made with heavy whipping cream! Next, I looked to the nutrition label to see if by any chance it would reveal something healthy about this breakfast and midnight snack to be. Again, I was disappointed as I learned that Greek God’s yogurt had more fat, more sugar and more total calories than the Breyer’s Ice Cream in my freezer.

On one hand I was devastated, shocked and confused. How could yogurt be less healthy than ice cream!? On the other hand, I felt lucky that I had actually checked the nutrition facts before I began to down this decadent food as a replacement to ice cream! The disappointment I felt from this discovery did and still does out weight the good fortunes from this same unearthing. However, it taught me a lesson and this lesson should be passed on to all of you….READ NUTRITION LABELS! READ INGREDIENT LISTS! The labels on the front are not as important as the labels on the back! Know your foods in comparisons to other foods. Know your foods well!

I am on Twitter

Posted: May 22, 2013 in Thought of the Day

Hey everyone,
Follow me on Twitter @GTandyFitness