Anyone who has ever been in a gym has seen some form of foam roller lying about, along with the frantic rolling employed by those trying to release tight muscles. I was one of those people who was constantly rolling my IT band on a foam roller or even my piriformis, never finding true relief from the tightness that pulled and tugged on my hip, creating dysfunction within the hip socket. All the muscles contributing to my hip's dysfunction were still as tight as ever. In fact, even when I was in physical therapy, the therapist instructed me to roll my piriformis and IT band over a black foam roller for thirty seconds, which is why I kept continuing with foam rolling. It brought some temporary relief, but it was never long-lasting. It wasn't until I started physical therapy again a year later, began receiving deep tissue massages, and correctly implemented self-myofascial release did I finally begin to experience relief from hip pain that'd been nagging me for a few years. In fact, a lot of pain, which then results in dysfunctional movement patterns, is generally the result of fascial problems.
In order to better understand just what myofascial release is supposed to do for you, a working knowledge of fascia itself is a necessity. According to Rob Wilson in his article "Foam Rollers Don't Work: Understanding Myofascial Release," "fascia is the basic term used to describe the connective tissues of the body." He likens this fascia to the stuff that covers the different compartments of a T-bone steak before you cook it. However, my physical therapist likened fascia to shrink wrap that covers all structures in the body. To continue further with the analogy, when you develop a muscle knot, which is not a literal one, the fascia in that area bunches up, much like shrink wrap. Tissues then cannot glide smoothly when trapped by bunched-up fascia. As a result, you develop pain and compensatory movement patterns, which only leads to more pain since all of our muscles are designed to function in specific ways.
For example, your transverse abdominus, which is the deepest layer of your abdominal muscles, is supposed to support your spine. However, for me, my rectus abdominus was acting as my spine's support. This resulted in poor spinal stability. However, you wouldn't know I had an unstable spine because I was able to always keep my back neutral, but I also had to grip my core unusually hard to achieve this. The rectus abdominus is only supposed to function for forward flexion. My obliques were also involved in providing spinal stability--and that's not what they're used for, either! To summarize, I had a lot of muscles firing that weren't supposed to be firing, and a lot of muscles firing too late that were supposed to be firing immediately. You can then see why this would result in trigger points and pain.
At first, trying to figure out the dysfunction of my hip was a complete experiment. Since my hip problem could not show up on neither an x-ray nor MRI, my therapist had to rely solely on palpating all of my painful spots. It was like putting a puzzle together. She knew my hip joint was not sitting properly in my hip, as my hip bones were not even. Over time through several appointments, several sessions of massage, and several sessions of palpating, did she begin to really understand the whole picture. She had already originally concluded that the only way to get my hip joint to sit properly in my socket was by smoothing out all of this bunched-up fascia in all of the areas that were tender. But then she also realized I had to re-train my muscles so that they were working how they're supposed to. This is where I began to take matters into my own hands outside of our sessions.
While the deep-tissue massages I received during therapy were absolutely helpful, she could only massage the areas I was able to pinpoint. On my own, I found more tender areas that did not elicit the same pain signals other areas did, but nonetheless contributed to the overall poor mechanics of my hip. I then began to realize that the way I previously tried to implement self-mysofascial release with a foam roller was all wrong. I'd spend minutes rolling out my IT band, only to come away with just a tiny bit of relief. However, by sitting that tender area on a golf ball for five minutes--super painful, might I add--I finally found the relief I'd been seeking all along. I then took this golf ball to all of the tender areas on me, finally releasing all of this bunched-up fascia so that I could then implement corrective exercise to restore proper functioning of my hip. I still have to use the golf ball, but I know it's a process. After all, I've had this issue for years, so fixing this problem is not going to happen overnight. However, the difference is incredibly noticeable. I can squat more now than I did prior to the injury. I can stand and walk for long periods without developing any nagging pain. I can now sink into my left hip without feeling tension. And it's all because of self-myofascial release.
My story is crucial to understanding that the only way to release fascia is to put continual pressure on a point of adhesion. Quickly rolling back and forth over a painful area may elicit some relief, but it's like trying to smooth shrink wrap with a rolling pin. But if you put enough pressure on that shrink wrap, you can break through it.
So what are the different tools that can be used for self-myofascial release? Do you have to use a foam roller? Do you even have to use a golf ball?
Let me start by saying that self-myofascial release is absolutely painful, but hurt does not always equal harm. You must push through the pain; however, you can control the degree of pain with the various self-myofascial tools out there.
You can use a foam roller, a lacrosse ball, a golf ball, a rolling pin, and a variety of other implements. I chose a golf ball because it's hard; its small size means I can better pinpoint areas of tenderness. Even so, using a golf ball is for those who are able to tolerate the pain. There are less painful means.
Foam rollers are great for large muscle groups. As you can see from the foam rollers pictured above, these too are used for those who are able to tolerate pain or who need more aggressive release because they have a lot of muscle tissue to work through. There are foam rollers that do not have these ridges, of course. They are simply compact foam with pockets of air that allow for some give in individuals new to self-myofascial release. These particular rollers also range in degrees of firmness. I have a black one that's firmer than the blue-and-white one at my gym. A tennis ball can also provide this same give for those who want to hone in on a specific area, like a tender area on a forearm or upper back.
When you're foam rolling or doing self-myofascial release with some other implement, find an area that feels tender. Once you've found that area, you simply pin that area down and hold it for about 60-90 seconds. You can also use the foam roller to help soften things up before going in with more aggressive methods. It's okay to roll around just a little bit, but you primarily want to keep that spot still so that the pressure can smooth out the adhesion.
Sometimes it's difficult to tell if you were able to eliminate the adhesion. If it's an area that you can't easily stretch to test it, all you can do is wait for a day or two to see if that area is still tender. If it's no longer tender, then you've smoothed out the fascia. If, however, the area can be stretched, you'll know the myofascial release has worked when you no longer feel tension in that area. You may feel some soreness in that area the following day, but that is completely normal. For more stubborn muscles, like your piriformis, you may have to work on that area for a few days. You'll especially have to give that point of tenderness a few days if you've had it for a while.
Even after you've rid yourself of the pain, you need to ask yourself what led to the problem in the first place and then go in and try to correct it. Did you develop pain in your low back because of improper squatting form? Deadlifting form? Sitting hunched over at your desk all day? Not maintaining proper posture? Getting rid of the pain is great, but unless you fix what caused the pain in the first place, it is likely to return.
I'm going to be drawing my author platform on to this website, as it's too much trying to maintain two platforms; however, this blog's primary purpose will still be about living a healthy lifestyle.
We've all heard of good fats and bad fats, the primary good fats being mono and polyunsaturated fats and the primary bad one being trans fats (I'll get to saturated fats later). We know good fats are heart healthy and trans fats, in any amount, are bad for us. But do any of us know the science behind why this is so?
First, we need to know exactly what a fat is. In its simplest form, it is a fatty acid, and the joining of three fatty acids forms a triglyceride, which is what is found in foods and the stores of fat found in our bodies. When our bodies digest these triglycerides, they get broken down into fatty acids and glycerol. These molecules then get used in various ways by our bodies, which will be mentioned later in this article (Berardi, p. 152).
Fat can be found in many foods, whether they are abundant, such as the fats in meat, or in trace amounts, like the fats found in grapes. It is a macronutrient, meaning it is needed in abundance in order for optimum functioning of our bodies. It is also a sorely misunderstood nutrient. While recent research has attempted to restore the reputation of this nutrient, there is little understanding of just what goes on when we consume these fats. In fact, I realized this when I was speaking to a co-worker and patient at my PT clinic about dietary fats, with both of them expressing surprise when I revealed exactly what fats can do to the very cells of our bodies. Their surprise is what prompted me to write this. After all, we hear so much about heart healthy fats, but we don't even understand just why they're healthy. We only know the bad ones can raise cholesterol, clog arteries, and increase the risk for heart disease.
Let's look at the good things fats do for us:
Now let's look more deeply into the different types of fats.
Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are unlike saturated fats because they are typically liquid at room temperature--think of vegetable oils. As their prefixes imply, they are composed of one or many unsaturated chemical bonds. Saturated fats, on the other hand, are typically solid at room temperature--think of cheese. Last, you have trans fats, which can occur naturally, but are mostly formed through industrial fat processing to make food products last longer (p. 157). As you can tell, they get their names because of their chemical configurations.
Despite what you may have heard, including saturated fats in the diet is an important component for overall health. It is true that when consumed in excess, saturated fats can increase one's risk for heart disease; however, one need not eliminate these fats from the diet. In fact, certain types of saturated fats may actually lower LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol), such as stearic acid, a "saturated fat found in cocoa butter and beef" (p. 154). People who generally consume saturated fats in excess are also consuming too much refined carbohydrates; however, by minimizing refined carbohydrates and including a good dose of unsaturated fats, saturated fats are perfectly fine in the diet (p. 155).
Not only is it important to balance saturated fat and unsaturated fat intake, but the balance among unsaturated fats, those being omega-6 and omega-3, is also crucial. Too much omega-6 can cause excess inflammation. Inflammation, under certain circumstances such as injury, is important for the body, so it is necessary to control one's intake of omega-6. Much of our North American diet includes an excess of omega-6 fats, so it's important to mention why omega-3 fats are crucial. These fats help to keep our cell membranes more fluid, which in turn makes for easier transmission of things like serotonin and increased insulin sensitivity. As a result, omega-3's can actually help with weight loss because hormones have ane easier time interacting with the fluid membranes of our cells (p. 156).
Our last fats are trans fats, and these are not good in any amount. In fact, rather than making our cell membranes more fluid, they instead make them more rigid, causing our cells to more tightly pack together, which in turn increases our risk for coronary heart disease and decreases hormone transmission. Trans fats consumed from just one meal also have an immediate impact on blood vessel function and elasticity. While trans fats can occur naturally in the diet, as long as one is consuming primarily whole, unprocessed foods, consuming too many trans fats is nearly impossible (p. 157).
Overall, optimum health depends on a good balance of fats. This balance is easily obtained through a diet of mostly whole, unprocessed foods.
Dietary fats explained. (2014). In Medline Plus. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000104.htm
Berardi, John, & Ansdrews, Ryan. (2016). The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition. Precision Nutrition.
Saturated Fats. (2016). In American Heart Association. Retrieved from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Saturated-Fats_UCM_301110_Article.jsp#.V8OYfzWqFhY
What are Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated Fats? (2014). In Your Guide to Diet & Diabetes. Retrieved from http://extension.illinois.edu/diabetes2/subsection.cfm?SubSectionID=46
Last month, I earned my Level 1 Precision Nutrition certification, and I'll start by saying that despite the hefty price tag ($828.00 for me, financed at $69 a month), it is worth every penny.
Nutrition has been a massive interest of mine since recovering from an eating disorder. I did not merely want to learn the basics, but I wanted to be able to further my knowledge and actually apply it. Precision Nutrition does just that. I had looked into other nutrition certifications, but a lot of people stated that while they learned the science behind nutrition, the certifications never taught them how to actually apply it. Of course, PN's section on applying nutrition does make the scope of practice for a trainer a little fuzzy. After all, many CPT certifications will tell you to refer out for more in-depth nutrition counseling. PN, however, gives you the tools to counsel on your own while making a point that medical nutrition therapy is off-limits for fitness professionals without a license in dietetics.
This course taught me a variety of new information that I did not learn from my own certification and even supplementary resources on nutrition. I learned the science behind why fats such as mono and polyunsaturated fats are so good for the body's cells; what losing fat in some places while being unable to lose fat in other places can mean; an unbiased look into the efficacy of supplements; specific dietary needs of athletes; pre and post-workout nutrition; nutritional formulas for different body types and dietary goals; nutrition for competition days; how differing diets, such as high-fat, high-protein, ect. influence body composition; how cells specifically react to macronutrients; and basically anything you learn in a nutrition degree with all the fluff removed.
So how does Precision Nutrition function? Well, they open spots up I believe two times a year, and the spaces are limited. You can get on their per-registration list, which makes the certification cheaper. However, the fierce competition for spots means you need to register fast so that way you can secure your place. Why there are limited spots, I haven't the slightest clue. I suspect it's a marketing ploy, but I wasn't too concerned about that.
The studying of this certification can be set to own's own pace. I took about four months to receive this certification, mostly because there was a period of time where I wasn't studying it. The course recommends that you study a chapter a week, but when I really got back into the course, I studied a chapter a day since I didn't have any difficulties with absorbing the information. I also didn't find the certification too difficult to earn, although I have read accounts from others who state the certification overall was difficult for them. In the past, they required that you pass a timed comprehensive exam, but now it seems you take a quiz every chapter, and all of your correct answers create a cumulative score at the end that determines a pass or fail. If you fail, you do have to take a comprehensive exam that is timed. Even so, despite the obvious open-book nature of the quizzes, you still need to read the chapters so that way you understand what the quiz questions are even asking. To challenge myself, I took all of the quizzes with a closed book. While Precision Nutrition argues in favor of open book due to a trainer's career naturally being an open book, having certain information already ingrained in your mind can make answering the nutrition questions of your clients easier.
Precision Nutrition also offers a workbook with questions you can complete after every chapter read. This certainly helps to solidify what you've read, as a lot of the quizzes' questions do come from the workbook. They also offer videos, which can help to solidify the information, but I wish the videos would have been more classroom-like, with Dr. Berardi actually offering the lectures and not just video slides; thus, the videos were rather boring. However, this is the only criticism I have for the certification.
Overall, I feel this certification has adequately prepared me to address the nutritional needs of my clients, barring medical nutritional therapy, which the book obviously does not cover. This is the one text I actually keep on top of my desk; the information contained within is just too excellent to simply shelve the book. I plan to write plenty of nutrition articles based on what I've learned from this course.
When I entered college back in 2009, I really thought I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I thought I was going to major in photography, maybe have my own tiny business, and work in the big bad world of publishing in New York. Then I thought I'd be happy with journalism. Then freelance editing. Then being an English teacher. Then freelance editing again.
I got to a point in my life where I'd be satisfied working a minimum wage job with people I enjoyed and being happily married and writing and doing ballet. At the time, I was happy to settle for just 'good enough.' Not knowing what my degree in English could get me, I was happy to coast along in a job that eventually made me miserable, where being told to have a good day at work was actually an insult.
I'm not sure why I had this "good enough" attitude. At the time, my only two passions were writing and ballet, neither of which are very lucrative careers. I just didn't see myself loving anything else, so I was fine with mediocrity, as long as I could afford to write and dance. After all, I had dabbled in all of the careers an English degree could provide for me, and none of them left me feeling satisfied. Creative writing was the only satisfactory career, and yet most writers can only afford to do it part-time.
So what was I supposed to do? Be a marketing trainee for the rest of my life, hawking off random giveaways, just to attract the homeowners who wanted stuff done? To make minimum wage with spotty commission? This was the sort of life I was going to settle for.
Looking back on all of this, I almost want to say that suffering from an eating disorder was worth it to find the career that I am in now. Yet, I wonder if an eating disorder was really necessary to budge me in the right direction, or if I simply needed more life experience to realize how truly limitless life can be if you allow yourself to explore the unknown.
Having moved to an online college allowed me the chance to work more, allowed me the chance to interact with more people, and allowed me the chance to truly understand myself in a way that I never had before. Sure, what primarily prompted my move to an online college was bipolar disorder. After all, if I was having a bad day, I wouldn't have to stress about getting myself to class. I could just stay in bed and do the work when I was feeling better. Yet, making this transition gave me more free time, which aided in my personal development.
I say all of this because I wish I wouldn't have jumped into college as soon as I graduated high school. I wish I would have just jumped right into the working world in order to really get a feel for what I wanted to do, instead of spending so much time wondering what I wanted to do. Even so, I can't really say I regret not having done this. I just wish I had. I'd probably be more settled into my life right now. Who can say?
I grew up with parents who encouraged me to do what made me happy. That's probably why I never wanted to settle--why I never want to settle. I was so close to doing just that last year, and now I realize that because of how I was raised, I'd never be truly happy settling for less. I can't be like everyone else, the people who are satisfied working a job only for the money to fund whatever their lifestyles are, whether it's just for the basic necessities, or expensive cars and apartments. Or a job to just pay the bills. I get those jobs are necessary, but I truly believe you should always look for better so that way you can lead a life that you're proud of, one where you don't feel the need to live vicariously through anyone else because you're your own inspiration.
Right now I'm working two jobs. I'm a personal trainer and I'm a physical therapy aide. It's not uncommon for trainers to have more than one job. Not at all. After all, most of our pay relies solely on hours where we're training, and building up a book from scratch is not easy. So I took this second job to support my job as a trainer. However, this job and the trainer job have made me realize that I want to take my desire to help people function free of pain even further--right to physical therapy assistant school. So next year I plan to begin a new degree so that I can become a licensed PTA and take my knowledge of training even further. I'm also studying for my CSCS. I still plan to be a trainer, even while I'm a PTA. My plan, however, is to train part-time making full-time cash solely through my own business. If it weren't for this second job, I never would have gotten the push I needed to pursue this path.
This is a story in itself.
Trying to find a second job was extremely frustrating. I threw in the towel after applying nonstop for jobs for two weeks, realizing my energies were better devoted to building up TDW. It was when I threw in the towel that I started getting interviews.
I had one interview for some inventory job that turned out to be a bust. No one was at the interview site. That was incredibly infuriating. I then had an interview at Starbucks. The only reason I applied there is because a friend of mine loves working there, but I honestly was not that thrilled at the prospect of serving coffee and doing other mind-numbing tasks that offered little in the way of fulfillment. My lack of enthusiasm must have been obvious; I never got a call back. I then got a call from one Walmart, but because I was working on the only day the manager wanted to do interviews, that was a bust. I then got an e-mail from Georgialina Physical Therapy to be interviewed as an aide. I also had an interview at another Walmart that same day.
I did my interview at Georgialina and was told I'd get called and that I could also let them know if I was truly interested or not after thinking it over. I then did the interview at Walmart and got immediately hired on the spot because the manager had seen me work at the YMCA. It's pretty obvious I didn't immediately take it. While it paid more. I wasn't happy about the 2-10 PM shift and the possibility that I wouldn't have a say in how many hours I worked week-to-week. After all, I just wanted a second job to give me a little extra money. I wasn't looking for a job to overtake my primary one. The one at Georgialina presented me with fixed hours that weren't ungodly.
Of course, I was trapped in a dilemma. If I didn't hear back from Georgialina soon, I'd have no choice but to take the job at Walmart. Not only this, but my fiance was pushing me to get the one at Walmart, just because it paid a dollar more and offered more hours. My dad even suggested that sometimes you have to do what you don't want to do in order to do the things you do want to do.
I certainly took what they said to heart. I certainly understood that I wasn't just getting this job for myself but also for my fiance. But being where I am now, I realize that if I had taken that job at Walmart, I never would have been encouraged to take my job as a trainer even further by challenging myself to earn my CSCS and going back to school for PTA. It was all thanks to my stubborn insistence that I knew I deserved better--and by better, I mean something that is mentally stimulating. Yeah, I spend time folding laundry, cleaning bathrooms, and wiping down tables, but I also spend time teaching exercises to patients, listening to the therapists as they teach the patients about their own injuries, learning about the range of therapeutic exercises available for those who need them, learning about the different diagnoses and the treatment involved in them, and being able to ask questions that directly benefit my job as a trainer. Not only this, but this job provides me with plenty of patient contact hours that will make me a competitive candidate for the program.
So what did I do? I immediately e-mailed Georgialina, letting them know I needed an answer soon because I received another job offer. And now that the technical college in my area will be offering the PTA program in 2018, I have an even greater incentive to try and take on more hours at Georgialina--which means more money, which means my fiance will be pleased.
You can't allow yourself to settle for good enough. If you don't know what you want to do, explore what there is to do out there. There is something for everyone. It is possible for everyone to live a life they feel passionate about. And you may not find that passion until you're well into your 20s. That's cool. That's okay. I'm 26. It took me 9 years after graduating high school to fully realize exactly what I am capable of.
While there are no guarantees in life, there are always regrets. If you want to do something, do it. I'm willing to take on student loan debt in order to develop the life I desire. I'm willing to use my credit card more than I'm usually comfortable with to pay for my continuing education as a trainer. I'm speaking in terms of money right now, but it isn't always a financial risk. Sometimes you have to leave your loved ones for a time to cultivate the life you desire. You have to go to a school hundreds of miles away from everyone and everything you know. You have to say good-bye to your steady job. You have to leave friends behind. You have to sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice. Smart sacrifices, but sacrifices nonetheless.
I recognize that I am in a privileged position, but you can't be in the mindset that your desires are out of your reach because of x, y, and z. I don't want to sound like some cheesy life coach telling you that all you need is a good attitude and strong will and you can get whatever you want. But what I will tell you is that you need to get to a point in your life where you realize that you have no choice but to be persistent. Being persistent doesn't require a good attitude or even a completely cheery outlook. It just require grit and a refusal to give up. If you tell yourself the only choice is to be persistent because the other option is to be miserable, you're going to do whatever you can to avoid misery.
Low back pain is one of the most common chronic pain complaints, and much of it is mechanical in nature--meaning there is no actual injury to the tissues, but there is some sort of mechanical and/or structural issue causing pain. Many people tend to work sedentary jobs that involve a lot of sitting. This can tighten the hamstrings and hip flexors. These tightened muscle then eventually pull the pelvis out of alignment, putting strain on the back. Excessive dynamic movement, like running or jumping, repeated over time can cause back issues as well
Now there are a variety of stretches you can do to ease low back pain, but I am focusing on strengthening muscles to help, as I have several clients with low back pain who have found some relief with these exercises. So here are some of the exercises I have my clients do.
(Please do not attempt to diagnose yourself. Seek the help of a physical therapist.)
This will hopefully be the only controversial post I write on this blog--and it's controversial because I know so many people involved in MLM businesses that it's unreal. I recognize that MLMs have been around forever, but it seems social media has exploded their popularity. I cannot go a single day without seeing one of my FB friends shilling some sort of MLM, be it Plexus, Younique, Herbalife, ect. (Plexus and Younique are the most popular on my feed.) In the past, I've tried product samples from MLMs without realizing they were MLMs, like Nerium and even some supplement from Amway that was supposed to give me energy. I've bought from an MLM before as well--and didn't know it--like Perfectly Posh, whose products I now realize are overpriced and don't last that long. In fact, I'm better off buying at Sephora, where the products may be more expensive but they last a million times longer--think six months versus a few weeks. I didn't even know Mary Kay was an MLM, and it has been around since I was in high school and perhaps longer than that! Then there is Avon, but I don't recall Avon representatives ever trying to get me to sell it, too.
You may be wondering how this fits in with my blog. Well, it does because I first started researching MLMs when I noticed a former friend of mine splashing Plexus all over FB. Naturally as a fitness professional I must keep abreast of the latest, most popular supplements, so I started looking up Plexus, only to be not surprised that the product itself is a scam. What's even more outrageous is that the majority of people selling Plexus have little knowledge of nutritional science. Of course, I realize there are personal trainers out there who sell Plexus. But I also recognize that there are doctors out there who apparently support this company, as evidenced by this hormone specialist. No profession is safe from this quackery.
However, I am not here to talk about the efficacy of any of these products. I am here to talk about the exploitative nature of MLMs themselves and why I refuse to be guilted into supporting any of my friends' businesses. For one, these are pyramid schemes because people's bottom lines involve recruiting others to sell these products. The products themselves don't even matter. They're just smokescreens. Not only do I know this from research, but I know this through my friends themselves who post statuses about messaging them for business opportunities. Anyone who typically praises the business also happens to sell the product themselves.The article I linked to provides enough of an explanation over how MLM businesses works, so I won't even bother explaining myself.
For one, MLM businesses are incredibly obnoxious. Whatever happened to genuine interactions on FB that didn't involve some ulterior motive to try and get your friends to sell? I have had people on my FB try to recruit me, wanting to exploit my platform as a fitness professional in order to make bank. That is an egregious abuse of my position and expertise. I will NEVER sell supplements to my clients. I will never sell makeup to them. Or skincare products. Or anything else for that matter. I will only sell MY services that get them long-term results that a supplement will never get them. Plus, not only is there an implication that I'm expected to sell to them, but then I'd also have to recruit them. On what world is this even ethical? It's not, and I don't appreciate anyone thinking this is okay.
Another thing about MLMs that bother me is these parties. I have friends inviting others to come to parties, when in reality that person is going to try to get you to not only buy the product but sign up to sell it. How abusive is this? Perhaps if you outright stated what the party was really about, then maybe I wouldn't roll my eyes every time your response to someone's question is to message you. Yes, I understand I can unfriend these people, but my hope is that they'll eventually see the light and join others, like me, in speaking out against MLMs. They'll use their experiences in these MLMs to get others to see how exploitative these practices are.
These businesses typically prey on single moms or women seeking to work at home so they can have a better work-life balance. So I do understand that these ladies are just trying to make money in a way that allows them an income without neglecting their home lives. This is an understandable desire, but there are plenty of occupations out there that allow this, like personal training, occupational therapy, and even a basic 9-5 job that doesn't require you to take work home or give up your free time. Granted, I understand the woes of stay-at-home moms wanting to contribute income, but it's your responsibility to figure out how to make it work before you even have a kid, and this doesn't include diving headfirst into a scam! I plan to return to school next year to study to become an occupational therapy assistant, and OTAs, from what I've read, have excellent work-life balances. I also plan to remain a personal trainer for a long time to come. So I have no complaints about my life and my jobs. I love them, and I can't wait to go back to school to further make a difference in people's lives.
So yes, I've found a way to make life work for me in a way that makes me happy without feeling the need to fall for a scam. This took a lot of work and self-discovery and maturity, but I am genuinely happy with my choices and don't feel the need to shove my life down others' throats the way MLMs make their shillers do.
I see my MLM friends bragging about how amazing their jobs are and how you should do their jobs too if you just hate yours. In fact, I've known some to quit well-paying jobs to sell full-time. And I know it's all lies. I've been in sales before; it's rough, it's not easy to make money, and it takes constant hustle. But I didn't have to spend any money upfront to make commission off home improvement projects or gym memberships. I didn't have to dupe paying customers into also signing up to sell stuff--just buy stuff that hopefully turns them into satisfied customers; however, these business are part of the BBB, which MLMs are not. My managers were genuinely interested in helping me improve my skills so I could make more money. And if I wasn't making more money, then they would work with me to figure out how to fix this. Of course, I left sales because I hate it and I also believe sales is a naturally exploitative profession, but I didn't destroy relationships as a result of these jobs the way MLMs do.
What also annoys me, and this is perhaps me being elitist, is that many MLM shillers consider themselves business owners. You're not. You're not even an entrepreneur. You didn't come up with the ideas for the products you're selling. You didn't invent these products or create them. You didn't invent the marketing materials for them. You don't need a license for your business. You didn't have to get certified in anything. You don't need a degree in anything. ANYBODY can be an MLM shiller as long as they have a little bit of upfront cash.
On the other hand, actual entrepreneurs have had to work much, much harder to even launch a business. I actually have to be certified to work as a trainer, to be seen as a professional, to be seen as legitimate. I have to receive continuing education credits to remain certified. I also had to get my own insurance to protect myself from potential lawsuits. I'll eventually need a business license. I didn't invent personal training, but what I did invent is my own ideas for what I'd like to promote compared to what other fitness professionals promote. Blogging also goes hand-in-hand with this business, and while I didn't invent blogging either, all of these posts arise from my own ideas and experiences. And my publisher, Gnome on Pig Productions, has had to work unbelievably hard and have all the required paperwork to run and get an accountant and everything.
Believe me, I know MLM people have to hustle, but you're selling someone else's dream. You're not selling your own despite how passionate you believe you are about the products you're selling. The fact of the matter is that you're still making money for someone else, whereas with my own entrepreneurial endeavor, I keep 100% of the profits and get to decide how to utilize those profits. You don't. You don't get a say in the percentage of commission you earn. You don't get a say in how much the products should cost. You don't get to invent new products to sell. You don't get a say in anything other than how you yourself sell the product. Stop duping yourself into believing you're living some entrepreneurial dream, when real entrepreneurs don't go around bragging about lavish lifestyles but rather talk about the immense work it takes to run a business. And it does take a lot of work. I'm still trying to find that balance that allows me to continually grow my own business while working at the YMCA and being a PT Aide and continually expanding my fitness and nutrition knowledge through continuing education courses along with trying to be a young adult author.
I'm sorry, but I will not support you. I will continue buying my make-up and skincare products at Sephora or Ulta or elsewhere. I will never support unnecessary supplements like those provided through Plexus and Amway. I will buy my wax melts at places like Target. I will buy jewelry in places like Dillards. Now I will support you if you actually do launch your own business through your own original ideas that don't exploit others, like friends who sell their art on Etsy, or friends who write and publish books, or friends who create cute crafts. These are the real entrepreneurs, the real innovators, the real change makers. And stop insulting the term entrepreneur with the cutesy momtrepreneur that makes it seem like entrepreneurship is as easy as spending several hundred bucks to buy into someone else's dream.
Am I bitter? No. I guarantee you that even with the little bit of money I am making off my own business, it's still likely more than what most MLM people make, especially since they have to spend money on their own products in order to be able to sell said products.
Are there people who have been successful with MLM? I have no doubt there are, but the percentage is incredibly, incredibly small. The vast majority are struggling. Most new businesses, regardless of the route you choose to go, fail anyway. MLMs are no different. What is different is massive amounts of people buying into the idea that MLMs will somehow make them easy money.
When it comes to the gym, injuries from weight lifting are unfortunately common. Even if you're taking every precaution imaginable, no one is immune to injuries. Weightlifting-induced injuries are just about the worst thing that can happen to any weightlifting fanatic. They limit how much you're able to lift and what sorts of movements you can do. For example, I have a jammed hip--think super tight muscles that keep pulling on my hip joint and having it sitting improperly in my socket. Thanks to ballet, which I'm taking a break from as a result of this issue, I can't do heavy deadlifts or squats with any weight. Heavy deadlifts and squats with weights is what worsened this injury that was dormant thanks to a round of physical therapy last year that partially solved the problem ballet gave birth to. In fact, I try not to do squats at all, unless I'm demonstrating them to my clients or group class participants. (And, yes, I am in physical therapy for it.)
I say all of this to let you know how easily you can be injured weightlifting if you're not careful. For a few months, I honestly thought squats and deadlifts would solve my hip problem. After all, my issue last year was that my concentric muscles were weak, so I figured if I got back to work strengthening those, my problems would disappear. Nope. Physical therapy last year mostly fixed the issue, but my hip still wasn't sitting properly in the socket. So adding on exercises that only served to further tighten already tight muscles reactivated the problem, making it a million times more difficult to fix now.
Now this problem occurred because of ballet. I received this injury in the very beginning, back when I was trying to lift my leg as high as it could go. An audible pop, an injury that went a little dormant until middle splits were introduced, and now here I am suffering because I foolishly pushed myself too hard when I wasn't ready. Injuries from weightlifting generally occur for precisely this reason. So I get it. I understand the struggle. I hate not doing deadlifts or squats with weights, but I also don't want a hip replacement in the future. Ever since my reckless days of ballet, I've learned to stop pushing through the pain. I've learned to be safer when doing potentially risky activities.
I'm going to share some tips for you weightlifting fanatics and for those new to weightlifting about what you need to do in order to be safe. This will prevent years of grief (because I've had my hip injury for a few years).
I've been at the Y for a little over a month--and, yes, it took me a little over a month to land my first client. I've gotten a few through my own business, but I've had to be patient and persistent with getting one at the Y.
At my particular YMCA, I'm not required to sell training. When I work floor shifts, I'm not required to prospect. It is these reasons that I work at this particular Y. When there's no pressure for me to sell or to approach people with an ulterior motive, I can be more genuine in my interactions with people and feel much more comfortable letting them know I'm a trainer and then asking them what they're training for; I then let them know that if they ever need help with anything, they can feel free to speak with me, even when I'm working out. Does this mean my business is being built more slowly? Yes, but it also means I'm neither miserable in the process nor do I feel like I'm compromising any of my morals or ethics by approaching people with the intention of selling something to them.
It was this impersonal process of selling that made me quit my previous gym as a consultant. Do I wish I were brave and skilled enough to hit the floor and come away with a client every time? Yes, but it's not me, and I'm not going to force myself to be that way. So if you're someone who absolutely detests the idea of selling anything, I'm going to tell you all of what I did to land my first client--and I didn't have to prospect for this client, either.
Being out on the floor and talking with the members did not land me my current client. Do I speak with the members on the floor anyway? Yes. Do I try to find ways to help them? Yes. Do I give everything away? No. Do I hope one day these members will approach me for training? Yes. So if it wasn't the floor that helped me land my client, what was it?
What I do behind the scenes is what helped. At the same time, what I'm about to tell you isn't anything I set out to do deliberately with the knowledge that this would help me land my first one. Doing these things just happened to produce this result.
First, you want to become cordial not only with the members but more importantly the employees of the gym--yes, even the trainers, as it was a trainer who gave me my first client. Let them know who you are and that you're looking to fill up your book of clients. Be willing to go the extra mile for them. Learn from the trainers. Ask them how they got their clients. If you work floor shifts and someone needs you to take their shift and you're able, do it. Let the employees know that you're happy to help out wherever you can. This leaves a good impression in their minds so that when a member asks about training, they'll immediately think of you. And for the trainers not looking to take on anymore clients, let them know you're looking and that you'll take any clients anyone throws their way.
If you work the floor, do more than what is asked of you. For example, we have a binder of the cleaning schedule. I do a lot of stuff that isn't even on the list, like wiping down cycles in the spin room or wiping down the mats in the group exercise room. Granted, I do them because I want to stay busy, but members will perceive you as a hard worker the busier you make yourself seem. Plus, they're more likely to approach you for help. While my busyness hasn't won me any clients, it has won the admiration of several members who note how hard I work. Even if I've wiped the machines the day before, I'll do them again the next day. You are never too good to do the little things.
This next point seems obvious, but smile at every person you make eye contact with. Bid them a hello, how are you, and have a good day as they exit the gym. The friendlier you make yourself, the easier it'll be for people to approach you with the intent of holding a simple conversation that can eventually lead to one about personal training.
When you land leads, you need to follow up with them. I have a few right now that I intend to follow up with. One lead I received because my dad let a woman at his work know that I'm a trainer, and this woman wants her mom to have one. I got another lead because the front desk called me up to introduce me to someone interested in training but still needed to talk it over with her spouse; however, I was called up because the woman at the front desk knows how much I want to build up my book. And I got another one through a wellness appointment by simply showing the member my value and letting her know I'm a trainer (she had a trainer previously and is interested again).
If you are on the clock, let the front desk know that you'd like to do all of the tours, just so members meet you as the first trainer before any others.
Work out in your trainer shirt. Take group exercise classes in your shirt. Pay attention to the people on the floor. I noticed one member was wincing in pain as she was getting off an ab machine. Turns out she was having gluteal pain. I showed her a simple stretch, and the next day she told me she felt so much better as a result. Little things like this help, especially if you keep following up with the member you helped. They'll then start talking about you. It's all word of mouth. And when you finally do land your first client, put all of your efforts toward making them happy. Be especially enthusiastic/energetic when you're out on the floor training them so that members take note.
It's hard. It's rough. Being a trainer is for the privileged. I have had to take on another small part-time job, but it's a job as a pt aide, which will greatly support my career as a trainer.
It is such a rewarding career, one I will never give up on. I'm being patiently, politely persistent.
Recently I was speaking with a young author friend of mine who posed this pertinent question that I think a lot of body positive activists actually struggle with: I've seen a lot of talk of embracing your curves, but often this rhetoric is paired with statements like exercise "manipulates your natural body." Where do we draw the line between acknowledging the public health crisis and obesity epidemic, and encouraging people to be comfortable in their own skin?
This was a tricky question for me to answer. While I did answer the question, I'm going to present a more succinct version of my thoughts here.
As someone trying her hardest to make even a tiny difference in the fitness industry's desire to sell sex appeal over health, my aim is to trumpet my message loud and clear that how exercise makes you feel is more important than how it makes you look. I don't want to train the person who comes to me wanting a bikini body. I want to train the person who knows lack of exercise is contributing to her high cholesterol or whose weight gain is causing excessive strain on his knees or the person who knows exercise could give her more energy or even the person who knows that his struggles with weight will cause issues later down the line. Those are the people I want. And I want these people to then spread the message that exercise has made a difference in their lives because it makes them feel better!
It's absolutely an uphill battle. After all, I have seen what trainers and gyms promote, and it's more often sex appeal than anything else. Unfortunately, promoting a gym as a way to regain your health is a less appealing sale than promoting a gym as a way to shed fat and get ripped abs. Yet, if we keep continuing this cycle of "sex sells" within the fitness industry, we'll never see an improvement over how we should approach health.
This is where the Health At Every Size movement comes in. According to the 5th edition of the American Council on Exercise Personal Trainer Manual, "two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese" (2014). Yet, despite this sobering statistic, we are not seeing a decrease in the obesity epidemic. Thus, HAES aims to promote a shift in focus to weight-neutral outcomes so that health is not being associated with weight loss. In fact, "randomized controlled clinical trials indicate a HAES approach is associated with statistically and clinically relevant improvements in physiological measures (e.g., blood pressure and blood lipids), health behaviors (e.g. eating and activity habits and dietary quality), and psychological outcomes (e.g., self-esteem and body image), and HAES achieves these health outcomes more successfully than weight-loss treatment and without the contraindications associated with a weight focus" (2014). We then need to put an overall focus on improving health behaviors, such as eating better and getting more physical activity in most days of the week.
Yet, it is going to take an entire industry shift to change people's views on weight loss. Many people assume that those who struggle with their weight are either lazy, lack motivation, or just don't care. It is rarely this simple. If so, I don't believe we'd have the obesity epidemic we have now if all it took was a sprinkle of motivation. Not to mention there are plenty of clinically obese people working hard at my gym. Rather, there are a variety of intrinsic and extrinsic factors that affect people's abilities to both gain and lose weight. And we also have to admit that most people who struggle with weight do so because they're consuming more than they're burning. Very few people struggle with weight as a result of a condition or even a medication. This is why HAES is so important. HAES recognizes the myriad of factors surrounding someone's desire or lack thereof to lose weight. After all, self-loathing is not conducive for weight loss. These people may lack motivation because they have no one to support them. They may have the motivation, but they are unsure of where to start or even intimidated by the gym. Even eating healthy these days is not simple since there is so much conflicting information out there, the quality information often being drowned out by misinformation.
There is a certain amount of tough love that must be implemented, however. Whether we like to admit it or not, the way we feel about ourselves, about our appearances, is inextricably linked with who we are. We all want to feel good about ourselves. We all want to look in the mirror and believe we look fantastic. What we often don't want to admit, however, is when we have a problem. This holds true for myself when I was in denial about how grossly thin I was getting when I was in the throes of my eating disorder. It took realizing that I'd never be satisfied with my weight to understand the gravity of my situation.
There are people out there who are in denial about their weight issues and only seem to do anything about it when it is arguably too late. In my experience, most people who seek personal trainers to lose weight do so because their weight is causing them health problems that could have been prevented had they understood they had a problem to begin with. Healthy results in a doctor's office do not mean that problems will not eventually arise within people who are obese. We needn't ignore the litany of scientific research with copious amounts of findings about what obesity causes.
Of course, I recognize that whenever the issue of obesity is brought up online, especially as it relates to body image, you have people spouting off scientific evidence that masquerades as concern for the obese person's health. Take Tess Holliday, for example. Body positive activists shower her with admiration over her ability to love herself, while critics couch their criticism with concern for her health. The body positive activists then lash back with information that Holliday claims she received a clean bill of health from her doctor. The critics then fight back by claiming her weight will eventually cause her problems.
It is this tug-of-war that keeps us from having a sincere discussion about obesity. And we desperately need to have one. We need to be able to recognize that obesity does indeed cause problems without being considered body shamers. We also need to realize that you have to be able to first love yourself before any changes can be made in your life. To truly love yourself also means recognizing that how you treat yourself today will impact who you are and how you are in the future.
Obesity is such a sensitive issue because it is a condition tied in with our appearances. It is also a sensitive issue due to the public's perception that obese individuals are slovenly. People want simple answers for why other people behave the way they do. Even so, we need to be willing to understand that when it comes to something as complex as obesity, the "why" will never, ever be simple. Instead of immediately judging obese individuals and trying to answer the "why" for them, we need to take the time to understand just how complex of an issue this is. Then I think we can have a civil discussion about obesity and body image.
You've probably heard of the adage "no pain, no gain," an adage that may refer to the discomfort you experience during a workout; however, pain is your body's way of telling you that something is wrong. If you persist with this pain with the belief that your body will simply toughen up, you risk seriously harming yourself. Take me, for example. When I began ballet, I allowed myself to dance through the pain--and I ended up paying dearly for it later.
I developed Os Trigonum Syndrome when I began picking up both my frequency and intensity of pointe classes. Os Trigonum is an accessory bone at the back of the ankle. When you point your foot, this little bone gets crushed between your ankle and heel. It can be as painful as a toothache when it flares. It was painful to stand on for long periods of time. I just kept pushing through it, believing that maybe it was a muscle knot or it was part of my fibromyalgia. Big mistake. I eventually had to get off pointe for almost half a year. The surgery was a gift. Healing from it was nothing compared to the pain when I had it.
Now I'm suffering through a hip impingement, a mechanical injury I sustained when I first began ballet, but one I ignored and kept pushing through. The pain was easily bearable when I was at my first school, but when I transferred to a more advanced one, that's when the pain kicked itself into overdrive. I received physical therapy for it and got rid of middle splits. The PT definitely helped to strengthen that area and lessened the pain, but now it's back in full force. I'm assuming squats with a barbell, deadlifts, and the occasional ballet class are to blame. I'm in physical therapy again for it, this time receiving more intensive treatment--think deep tissue massages.
I say all of this to let you know that you should NEVER exercise through pain. If you feel even a little twinge, stop. That little twinge can develop into something more later on, like my hip issue did. And if you allow it to develop into something and keep working through that pain, you could end up needing surgery or even some sort of joint replacement.
As a trainer, I ensure my clients stop when they feel pain. I also try to minimize the amount of delayed onset muscle soreness they may experience the next day. My job as a trainer is not to leave my clients dying at the end of their workouts. It's to leave them feeling accomplished and capable, that it is absolutely possible to reach all of their fitness goals. Not being sore the next day also doesn't necessarily mean you didn't work hard enough. I don't get as sore as I used to because my body has adapted to much of what I do now; however, I know I'm making progress because I'm able to increase the repetitions, the sets, or even the amount of weight I use the next time I do a particular workout. I do not use pain or lack of as a basis for how hard I worked. Subsequently, you shouldn't either.
As a therapeutic exercise specialist, one of my specialties is to be able to design workout programs to help pain sufferers exercise without pain. This is a particular area I enjoy because, as a pain sufferer myself, I know how frustrating it can be trying to find a way to meet your fitness goals without exacerbating any existing pain conditions.
I have one client who had issues with their ankle and had no clue how to work out without hurting it. I managed to structure a workout routine that allowed them to exercise without pain while strengthening the ankle, which then let them eventually do squats and lunges without ankle pain the next day. I also have another client with serious back and knee issues who kept injuring themselves every time they worked out on their own. I managed to give them a routine that left them a little sore the next day, but there was no pain.
It is absolutely possible to engage in a fitness program that can sometimes have the happy side effect of decreasing pain you otherwise normally feel. While many fibromyalgia suffers are not so fortunate, exercise has immensely helped with the unbearable pain levels I used to experience. Now I rarely have any flares.
Exercising without pain may mean having to give up your favorite exercises. For example, I can't do weighted squats...at all. I can't do heavy deadlifts. When I do squats without resistance, I can't go down to parallel. Forget going heavy on the leg press machine. I don't even like the leg curl or leg extension machines; while I can't go heavy on these machines either, I use them now to target the quads and hamstrings that deadlifts and weighted squats used to take care of. Spin class also helps to keep up the strength in my legs since it's gentle on my hip. While leg day is no longer something I look forward to, simply because I can't challenge myself as much as I used to, I understand that the modifications I've made are absolutely necessary so that I HOPEFULLY don't find myself needing a hip replacement in the future.
When it comes to exercise, never push yourself to do more than you're currently capable of. That's how you get injured, sometimes severely.
I recently finished creating a meal plan for a body builder client of mine simply looking to make sure they're eating enough from day-to-day. This client normally doesn't eat as much as they're supposed to, so a structured meal plan was in order, along with a list of substitutes, just in case they're not in the mood for whatever's listed on the plan that day.
In any case, I myself don't follow a meal plan. I simply eat when I'm hungry, stop when I'm full. So for some people, meal plans are too restrictive. For others, however, they're necessary, especially for those who don't know how to eat well, are eating too much, or are not eating enough.
I'm going to give you some tips on how to structure your own meal plan if you're the type who needs one. Keep in mind that it is outside of my scope of practice to create a meal plan for treatment purposes, such as someone needing a plan for diabetes. My meal planning services are simply for lifestyle purposes.
Good evening, Supernovas! I was hoping to get this post out last Friday, but that was wishful thinking considering that was the day my guy and I were moving into a townhome. Now that we're a little bit settled, I can commence my work.
This evening's interview is with Alyssa of Blissful Lyss, another survivor of an eating disorder. Enjoy!
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Why are you majoring in psychology? What got you into healthy living? In middle school, I always thought I wanted to go into business because my dad majored in that in college and works as an insurance agent. However, my struggles with an eating disorder, body image, and depression led me to want to go into a field where I can help others struggling with the same thing. I love to talk about these issues and voice my own struggles, because I truly feel we need to raise awareness to mental illnesses as they are rapidly growing nowadays. I will never consider myself a “healthy” eater. My past with food and being incredibly fixated on health brought me nothing but sadness. I love to eat nourishing, wholesome foods and trips to whole foods, juice bars, and big acai bowls or quinoa burgers put the biggest smile on my face but so do bagels, ice cream cones, and chocolate. I think the “healthy” label puts far too much pressure on individuals to maintain that label, so I will never put it on myself. Instead, I have learned to find an identity in other things: my growing relationship with God, yoga, the relationships I have with others, and feeling like I am connected to and a part of nature.
2. Tell us all about your blog. On my blog, I talk about my life, share some yummy eats, and discuss my struggles with disordered eating and raise awareness to issues such as body image and excessively exercising. I love to write about these topics or make YouTube videos too. My blog is a great way for me to put my thoughts somewhere, and I am so thankful for it and the blogging community!
3. What made you get into blogging? I always used to read blogs when I was in high school, especially my junior and senior years when I just got out of treatment. I would follow Robyn’s from the Real Life RD and she inspired me to find more freedom in food and exercise. After everything I went through, I wanted to be able to help others and show them that there is a light to difficult times in life. This all encouraged me to make the jump to start my own blog!
4. I see you struggled with an eating disorder. Tell readers a little bit about that. My struggle with anorexia was one of the hardest things I went through in life. My eating disorder developed when I was around 13. I will never forget learning about calories in health class that year and being forced to record what we ate and how many calories we consumed that day. Being a gymnast, the pressures to look a certain way took a toll on my self-esteem. I never thought a quest to eat healthier would lead to a full-blown eating disorder, but no one thinks that when they first make that decision to shred a few pounds. I struggled with orthorexic tendencies, exercise addiction, laxative abuse, and restriction. Residential treatment saved my life, and I was also in other treatment programs after that. I am thankful for these struggles in life, because without them, I really wouldn’t have stumbled across my strength.
5. Tell readers your interest in mental health. On top of an eating disorder, I also struggled with depression and anxiety. I feel like the eating disorder and these battles with mental health all went hand in hand. When I was 16, I had several bouts of suicidal thoughts. I have had challenges with anxiety and panic attacks, and I want to be able to help people enduring these difficulties in life too. I believe that many are quietly struggling, but I want to instill in people that hope that there IS a light at the end of the tunnel with all these struggles.
6. What else would you like readers to know about you? Hmmm… some other things about me- I love music: Florence and the Machine, John Mayer, Dave Matthews Band, Of Monsters and Men, Hozier, and George Ezra are some of my favorites. Some of my favorite foods include nut butter, ice cream, sweet potatoes, avocados, and cereal. I love coffee, nature walks, my dog named Daisy, my family, and friends. I go to a small college in Massachusetts and will be a sophomore this fall. I love deep talks with people too! And I am always down to have a good laugh :)
You will need a pair of dumbbells, preferably of varying weights. Make sure you're using a weight that will bring your muscles to fatigue within 8 reps. Warm-up and cool-down not included.
I feel the need to write this post because I don't think people truly understand just how fantastic exercise can be for one's energy levels. I see people on my Facebook feed alone willing to spend over a hundred dollars a month on some supplement that promises energy--it's cheaper than a cup of coffee!--among a myriad of other things. But exercise is free! And with that extra money you didn't spend on a supplement, you can buy whole, nutritious foods, which can also contribute to one's energy levels.
In an article titled "Exercise as a Cure for Fatigue and to Boost Energy Levels," Marion Webb writes that "researchers at the University of Georgia found that sedentary, otherwise healthy adults who engaged in as little as 20 minutes of low-to-moderate aerobic exercise, three days a week for six consecutive weeks, reported feeling less fatigued and more energized." Low-to-moderate exercise can include a brisk walk. That's all! Everyone has 20 minutes to spare for this fantastic energy booster. (Now if you're otherwise unhealthy, such as those struggling with chronic fatigue syndrome, please consult a doctor.)
According to Webb, the reason exercise is able to increase energy levels is due to enhanced blood flow, thus facilitating the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to muscle tissue, thereby increasing energy output through the creation of more ATP (adenosine triphosate). The body then becomes a more efficient energy-producing machine; it just naturally adapts to imposed demands.
As a fibromyalgia sufferer, I do recall a time amidst a flare-up of this illness that I did have difficulties with my energy levels. Depression didn't make things easier, but at the time, I was doing less than 4 hours of ballet a week. However, I noticed that when I started doing ballet for about 7 hours a week, my flares died down, and I got my energy levels back. This isn't necessarily going to be the case for every fibromyalgia sufferer--or chronic illness sufferer in general. In fact, being able to exercise as much as I did is a privilege among fibro sufferers. What this does mean, however, is that it wouldn't hurt to increase the duration of your exercise if you're a generally healthy adult who suffers from fatigue not related to a medical condition. Of course, expending more energy during exercise doesn't necessarily mean feeling more energized. It's just what I had to do in order to combat the fatigue of fibromyalgia. Low-intensity exercise is generally enough to boost one's energy levels.
Even so, jumping into a regular exercise program is a process. There are certain steps you can take to work up to a satisfactory amount of exercise per week.
My new goal weight was 85 lbs.--and I was screaming on the inside, "JUST EAT!"
Even when I did manage to force myself to eat, I ended up binging. I was so starved that anything and everything tasted amazing. Bread and butter was like ambrosia. I was eating foods that I hadn't eaten in years, like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, poptarts, cheap breakfast cereals, and anything that was in the kitchen, ready to be consumed. I couldn't stop myself from eating until my stomach was painfully stuffed, so stuffed that I would purge just to get rid of the feeling.
You really don't know true starvation until you realize that everything tastes too amazing.
I didn't feel terribly guilty the next day after a binge. I just went back to restricting and ramped up the exercise. But then I started abusing laxatives. I knew laxatives didn't get rid of fat. I just thought at the time I could get rid of the food before my body had time to convert any of it to fat. I thought this would be the only time I would abuse them.
Eating disorders make you unbearably naive. You always think you're not going to be like every other person with an eating disorder. You're not going to get scary skeletal. You're not going to purge. You're not going to binge. You're not going to abuse laxatives. You're not going to abuse exercise. You'll eventually maintain.
At the time, I was so proud of how skinny I was. I was combative when people thought me too skinny. I thought I was fine. Yet, I started getting to a point where I was wearing baggy clothes because I didn't want people to see how thin I had gotten. I was painfully self-aware of how skinny I was. I wasn't the type to look in the mirror and think I was fat.
I was growing ashamed. I was growing manic in my mind.
This is 100 calories.
I need to run for this long to burn off that one little snack.
I want to eat again.
I ate too much.
85 lbs. is enough.
It's too low.
How did I put on a pound?
I. Can't. Stop. Thinking. About. Food.
I admitted to my fiance that I had an eating disorder. He knew. I don't think he did anything because he thought it was something I could fix myself. I thought so too. But why couldn't I eat normally? Why couldn't I just eat and stop when I was full? Why did I have to keep eating?
I've had several binges, ones that were unplanned. I purged several times, even though I thought I wasn't going to do it any more than once. And I abused laxatives several times.
Everything was several times. It's never just once.
Two close friends of mine knew, mostly because they discovered a secret journal online I was harboring of all my eating disorder exploits One let my parents know through Facebook, but because they weren't friends, messages like that tend to go in the 'Other' folder. I didn't mind that that one friend told. It was hard for me to open my mouth and say there was something wrong. Even now I still don't understand why anorexia was so addicting for me, why it was so hard for me to just eat like a normal person.
Why does a disease like this exist, one that goes against all desires to survive? Why is it a choice at first, but then morphs into an addiction? I guess I got to a point where I no longer cared if I lived or died. I wasn't feeling suicidal. I just didn't care anymore. I was trapped within my own mind obsessing over food and how hungry I was that I had little room for other thoughts. I was tired of this endless cycle.
I only began to understand the gravity of my problem when I realized that not even 85 lbs. would satisfy me. Losing weight morphed into a game. It was all about the numbers, all about seeing them drop.
I felt bitter. I blamed him.
I can honestly say that working at a gym is one of the best jobs I've ever had, even back when I was selling memberships before I became a trainer. There are so many benefits to working at one, benefits that you'd be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. I even enjoy my floor shifts (which are minimal), where I choose to spend most of my time cleaning since that in itself is meditative. I also spend those shifts doing my best to meet new people while catching up with ones I already know. I think anyone who's just starting out--particularly teens--could benefit from working at a gym.
Supernovas, I am so excited to welcome Marina D. on my blog. She's the fabulous owner of A Dancer's Live-It, an awesome healthy living blog. Like me, she's a dancer as well, so I thought she'd be the perfect fit for my blog.
First, here's a little bit about her:
My name is Marina and I am the 21-year-old dancer, college student, health/wellness enthusiast, and self-diagnosed oatmeal and baking addict. I am currently majoring in Dance Performance and minoring in Public Health at a university and will graduate in the Spring of 2017. After graduation, I hope to be able to perform with a contemporary/modern dance company and am highly considering becoming a Certified Health Coach or some type of fitness instructor or personal trainer. This past year I finally recovered from an eating disorder/exercise addiction and love to help others with their struggles in that area. I have no problems talking about it because I want to make sure it NEVER happens to anyone else.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. What type of dance do you do? What are you studying in college? What got you into healthy living?
I’ve been dancing since I was 4 years old, and I started with ballet, as most young dancers do. I did that for about 4 years before I discovered the world of modern dance, jazz, and lyrical. I was hooked! I love the expressivity that modern gave me. I also dabble in hip hop, contemporary, improvisation, pointe, and African dance. In college, my program focuses mostly on modern dance and improvisation, but we also had to take African for a semester and ballet for 2 years. I ended up taking it for more than two years because it’s such awesome training.
My journey to healthier living went into full swing during my senior year of high school, as I knew I had auditions for colleges coming up. Knowing that I would be in for some rigorous days, it was so important to be fueling my dancing body properly. It’s not that I was out of shape or anything, I was just tired of not seeing results from all the hard work of dance. I wasn’t happy with my eating habits. While I still ate pretty healthy foods of course, I wasn’t really thinking about portion controls, snacking, or processed foods/sugars. I felt sluggish and I knew I had to whip myself into shape. I used to run sparingly, but then I started running almost every day along with dancing and I immediately saw a change in my mood and health. I started by making smarter food choices, eating about 5 smaller portioned meals a day, (rather than 3 huge ones), and I also stopped eating meat, except for seafood. All in all, I ended up losing about 12 pounds freshman year at college. But this ended up turning into a big problem…see my “What’s A Live-It?” page for more details.
2. Tell us all about your blog. What does "live-it" mean?
The “live-it” is a term my Mom actually came up with when we were driving in the car one day. She said, “when you think about it, why do they call it a ‘diet’? It sounds too harsh, people shouldn’t have to die to try and be healthier. It should be called a live-it because it’s a lifestyle change!” That phrase always stuck with me and I thought it fit well with the message I try to send on my blog. Being healthy doesn’t mean having to “die” or restrict the foods we love, it’s a lifestyle change that’s all about balance and listening to our bodies! To sum that up, my blog, A Dancer’s Live-It, is a place where I can show you that being healthy isn’t about going on a DIEt. In order to truly appreciate the benefits of health, you have to change your lifestyle, so therefore LIVEit.
3. Why did you start blogging? What do you love about it?
I stumbled upon the blog world in 2013 when I started reading one of my favorite lifestyle blogs, Peanut Butter Fingers. I loved being able to get a glimpse into someone’s life and read about all of their quirks, likes, dislikes, and favorite foods to eat. I thought, ‘well maybe I could do that too!’ When I started blogging, however, I started it as a way to help my recovery journey from orthorexia because I wanted others to NEVER go through what I did. I thought I would try it out for a little while, maybe get a few readers, and then I’d be done. Nope! It’s honestly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I love being able to connect with others and hear about their stories too. I had no idea how huge the blogging world is, yet we’re so closely knit and supportive. I’m overwhelmed at the amount of kindness I’ve gotten through emails, comments, and Facebook communities. I also love that it can be a career if I wanted it to be, but I’m not sure that I could ever be a full-time blogger.
4. How do you decide your blog topics? What is your favorite topic to write about?
This has been a struggle for me up until this past year because I hadn’t truly found “my voice” yet. I’d look and see what others were writing about and see the amount of feedback they got on that topic and I would try to write about that too. It went okay for a while, but I still felt like something was missing from my blog. This year I finally realized that I should be writing about what matters most to me: recovery from eating disorders and helping others with aspects of their physical and mental health. My favorite topics to write about include elements of self-love, positive body image, and intuitive eating/listening to our bodies.
5. Besides dancing, what other activities do you do for exercise?
I used to be a runner, but I don’t do that anymore. I wrote a post called “Dear Running…” that talks about what running was doing to me and why I finally stopped. Now I enjoy “quick and dirty” workouts! Workouts that involve pure bodyweight, HIIT workouts, or training with weights are what make me the happiest. I also love Vinyasa yoga, Pilates, and I’ve taken several Barre classes before. Honestly, my workouts are anywhere between 22-30 minutes a day, 5-6 days a week. That’s all my body needs!
6. What else do you want readers to know?
I was born and raised in a suburb of Buffalo, NY and I am a very proud Buffalonian. I have so much “Buffalove”, as we call it. You won’t find good chicken wings anywhere else! Go ahead, try and argue with me. I’m also 100% Italian (because both sides of my family are) and I’m very proud of that too. Let me feed you food! I traveled to Italy in 2014 with my family and it was incredible. I’m a lover of classic movies, traveling, “I Love Lucy”, “The Golden Girls”, “The Office”, Michael Jackson, and anything seafood. Ice cream is my favorite form of dessert and anything with strawberries and/or dark chocolate. My Dad got me into amusement parks when I was little and I’ll go on any ride you throw at me! Rollercoasters, spinning rides, you name it! I have one brother who is 5 years older than me and he is KILLING IT in the music world. Seriously though, he’s a freelance jazz pianist/composer and he’s a prodigy. My dream is to be able to dance professionally as well as help work to help others with their body image/health. One more thing…no matter how bleak or dark things may look in your life at a given moment in time, always remember that “this too shall pass.”
There are a variety of thoughts on whether or not we need supplements in our diets. However, it's my own personal view that MOST people don't need them. Those who need them are either nutrient deficient due to an illness or lack specific substances, such as intrinsic factor, to properly digest nutrients. Otherwise, you can easily obtain all of your necessary nutrients through food alone.
In an editorial titled "Enough is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements" published in Annals of Internal Medicine, Elisio Guallar et al. argue that "despite sobering evidence of no benefit or possible harm, use of multivitamin supplements increased among U.S. adults from 30% between 1988 to 1994 to 39% between 2003 to 2006, while overall use of dietary supplements increased from 42% to 53%" (2013). They even mention that supplements don't prevent disease and death; thus, there are little health benefits to vitamin supplementation. High doses of certain vitamins, such as vitamin E, can in fact cause copious amounts of harm. After all, there are plenty of vitamin E-rich sources that make vitamin E supplementation pointless.
Many multivitamins include high doses of vitamins and minerals where over-supplementation of these substances can cause more harm than good. For example, some symptoms of multivitamin overdose can include, but are not limited to, irregular or rapid heartbeat, fainting, fatigue, irritability, changes in mood, and a myriad of other symptoms. Such supplements don't even need to be approved by the FDA. However, the supplement firms themselves are responsible for ensuring the product is safe to use and that there are no misleading claims.
The most supplement-obsessed population is we gym goers. I see people sloshing pre-workout down their throats, bringing in expensive bags of protein powders or creatine (there is evidence that creatine can help), and freaking out about the "anabolic window" after an intense resistance training session. Even more despairing? I know trainers who encourage all of this behavior. We should be the last group of people recommending supplements to anyone.
I myself do not use supplements, be it multivitamins or powders. I used to use whey protein powder, but when I ran out of that and just went to good old-fashioned food and used the BIA scanner to check my stats, I found I still put on muscle despite not having used any supplementation. I honestly thought I wasn't getting in enough protein. However, a 2014 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that, even for men, 20 grams of protein is sufficient for maximum results. Any more than 20 grams and the excess protein is excreted through urine. You can EASILY get that protein in a serving of chicken. The "anabolic window" is also nonsense. In fact, the window can range anywhere from 24 to 48 hours! Thus, you're spending an obscene amount of money on protein powder, when you could be using that money to purchase whole, nutritious foods.
Another issue with supplementation is that due to the lack of regulation, many supplements may be tainted or even contain banned substances. This is worrisome, as many supplements are over-the-counter and can be purchased at your local Walmart.
The only reason you should ever take supplements is if a doctor with a good reputation recommends supplements to you. When I was suffering from an eating disorder, I had to take B12 and vitamin D for a little bit until my levels stabilized, and, you know, I was eating properly again. Now that I am eating well, I've had no issues with any of my levels. In fact, when I had my blood levels tested when I was hospitalized for my disorder, I actually wasn't deficient in any nutrients--this was after my vitamin levels stabilized. Color me shocked, but it showed me that a vitamin deficiency is much harder to obtain than most people realize.
So my final piece of advice? There are plenty of MLM companies out there now, from Plexus to Herbalife, whose sellers are generally people with zero background in nutrition. While it sounds mean, especially since I do have friends who are sellers of these products, do not purchase these from them! They're your friends, but they are NOT dietitians, no matter how many inspirational/informational little memes they post on their products. Your friends may also strongly believe in these products, but they are still motivated to make money. Don't be swayed by any of the testimonials, either, as the people in them also likely sell the products themselves.
Put simply, just eat food for all of your nutrient needs. Ignore the hype that supplement 'x' can increase your energy levels when good eating and exercise are likely to do that just as well. Move more during your day. Ensure you're sleeping well.
Here's your weekly boot camp workout, which can be done at home. Add equipment as needed. Enjoy, and tell me what you think in the comments!
I feel like deviating a little bit from what's normally on my blog so that way anyone who reads it and this post can know more about me at a deeper level than what can be currently found. Basically, I'm going to style this as if someone were interviewing me.
Website Rebrand Coming
ACE certified personal trainer, nutrition coach, young adult author, moody ballerina.
Order When Stars Die
The views expressed on this blog are entirely my own. Any advice I offer is not to be taken as medical advice. If you think you have contraindications to exercise, please see your physician before implementing any sample workout plans I present on this blog.
All images are either my own, from Canva, or Creative Commons