Heart Health Awareness, What Can We Do?

Did you know in 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson was the first to proclaim the month of February as American Heart Month in efforts to bring awareness to the American people? Heart disease is, and has been, the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States. One person dies every 36 seconds in the US from cardiovascular disease (CVD). About 659,000 people in the US, or 1 in 4 people, die each year from CVD. 

What is cardiovascular disease? Cardiovascular disease refers to several types of heart conditions with the most common being coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD is associated with plaque buildup in our arteries; the tiny little ones that provide blood flow to our heart, known as our coronary arteries. Without enough blood flow to an area means there will be a lack of oxygen to that area as well. When there isn’t sufficient oxygen being provided, that is when we start experiencing signs and symptoms of discomfort; worst cases scenario being tissue death and/or mortality. 

Our heart is a muscle, just like the ones in our arms and legs. If we pull a muscle in our arm or leg, it generally stays in that local area. We normally see a bruise, or we move in a certain way and we feel a pop, either way it’s obvious and we know we must tend to it if we want to feel better. If we get an injury to our heart muscle, you won’t see a bruise on your chest telling you there’s something wrong and it may not be super obvious. That’s why paying attention to signs and symptoms is a priority and going to your primary care doctor annually for labs and a check up are important. If we know something is going on we can help prevent it or monitor it, CVD does not need to be a death sentence. 

Three big takeaways that I want you to leave a good understanding with are: Signs and Symptoms, Risk Factors, and Prevention. 

Signs and Symptoms: Chest pain or discomfort, upper back or neck pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea or vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, dizziness, shortness of breath, fluttering feeling in the chest, swelling in the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen, or neck veins.

Risk Factors

There are two types of risk factors, modifiable and non-modifiable. Modifiable risk factors are things that are in our control to change; lifestyle, activity, nutrition, weight. Non-modifiable risk factors are things you cannot control; age, race, gender, genetics. Genetics only account for 20% of our health outcomes and 50% is attributed to our lifestyle choices. After we change our modifiable risk factors and notice things aren’t changing favorable over time, consult with your doctor to possibly consider medication. Medications can be helpful to maintain desirable ranges for things like blood pressure, cholesterol, A1C, etc. 

Some risk factors for CVD are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, overweight and obesity, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use.

Prevention

Ways to help prevent CVD are stop smoking or using tobacco, move for at least 30 minutes a day, eat a heart healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight, get good sleep, manage stress, and get regular health screenings.

Preventing heart disease can be challenging and overwhelming. If that sounds like you, please reach out to a professional for help. Be sure to utilize our free educational resources at: https://fullsclaefit.com/resources/ for various health and wellness calculators, nutrition database, exercise database, and so much more. 

Author: Quinn Butler, MS, CEP, Full Scale Fitness Personal Trainer

References

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, September 27). About heart disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved February 11, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/about.htm 
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Prevalence of heart disease — United States, 2005. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved February 11, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5606a2.htm#:~:text=Heart%20disease%20has%20been%20the,a%20major%20cause%20of%20disability 
  1. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2022, January 14). Top strategies to prevent heart disease. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved February 11, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/

    in-depth/heart-disease-prevention/art-20046502 

  1. Proclamation 3566-american heart month, 1964. Proclamation 3566-American Heart Month, 1964 | The American Presidency Project. (1963, December 30). Retrieved February 11, 2022, from https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/proclamation-3566-american-heart-month-1964#:~:text=Johnson%2C%20President%20of%20the%20United,States%20to%20issue%20similar%20proclamations 

New Year, New Goal

With every new calendar year, we set our sights on new horizons. Refocusing and re-evaluating where we are at versus where we want to be or maybe who we want to be. It’s as if the drop of a ball and the stroke of a clock at midnight gives us this renewed passion, drive, and clarity of what we want in life. Every year more than 50% of people make New Year’s resolutions and yet around 80% of these New Year’s resolutions are dropped by February. Why is that? I believe the answer is multifactorial. One thing we do know for certain is that you become 42% more likely to achieve your goals and dreams by simply writing them down on a daily basis. Let us build off of that New Year’s momentum. As the old saying goes, if you fail to plan, plan to fail, so let’s plan!

Step one, brainstorm.
Set a timer for 10-15 minutes and dream of all the things you wish to bring to life. And no, there is no such thing as dreaming too big. 

Step two, rank in order of importance.
Dig deep and ask yourself the hard questions. Does this align with my core values? Will this help me grow personally, professionally, financially? Will this positively impact my life? Who am I doing this for? Now is the time to get honest with yourself.

Step three, take your number one ranked goal and make it S.M.A.R.T.
Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based. Break your main goal down into digestible chunks. Be sure to make it as narrow as possible, being vague will make it feel like you are free falling without a parachute. Create short-term goals that you can work on each week or each month that will lead you to your long-term goal in 6, 12, or 24 months. Make sure your goal is achievable and relevant to you. We often lose sight of our goal if it’s not something we connect with on a deeper level. Lastly, keep track of your progress and set a time frame of when you want to complete your goal. Holding ourselves accountable with a specific date will help us stay on course. Close your eyes, imagine it, and then write it like you lived it.

Step four, put it into action.
Write up an agreement with yourself and read it often. This is one way to promote positive behavioral change. Celebrate your small wins, you know, the stuff we normally overlook because we think it’s not worthy enough. IT IS! Cultivate an environment of self efficacy where you believe you are capable of executing whatever it is that is in front of you. Have a good support system. Surround yourself with people you love, people who inspire you and push you to be the best version of yourself and have your best intentions in mind.

If you’re looking to start or improve your fitness and/or nutrition, as an individual or as a corporate company, and would benefit from goal setting with a certified personal trainer or registered dietician, please reach out to Full Scale Fitness by e-mail at [email protected] or call us by phone in Ohio at (419) 906-0204 or in Utah at (435) 319-3651.

Full Scale Fitness St. George Personal Trainer Quinn Butler climbing in Snow Canyon, Utah.

References:

  1. DeSimone, G. (2017). Shareable resource. ACSM’S Health & Fitness Journal, 21(5), 3. https://doi.org/10.1249/fit.0000000000000316 
  2. Forleo, M. (2019, September 13). Self-made millionaire: The simple strategy that helped increase my odds of success by 42%. CNBC. Retrieved December 18, 2021, from https://www.cnbc.com/amp/2019/09/13/self-made-millionaire-how-to-increase-your-odds-of-success-by-42-percent-marie-forleo.html 
  3. Murphy, M. (2020, February 11). This is the month when New Year’s resolutions fail-here’s how to save them. Forbes. Retrieved December 18, 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/markmurphy/2020/02/11/this-is-the-month-when-new-years-resolutions-fail-heres-how-to-save-them/?sh=7294e9c3272f 

Holiday Food Guilt

holiday food guilt pumpkin pie

5 Tips to Help You Through the Holiday Food Guilt

What if you could still eat those delicious treats that come along with the holiday season and still continue towards your health as fitness goals? This can be such a stressful time of year, but navigating food should not be one of them! As a woman recovering from an eating disorder, I dreaded the holidays because of their temptation and subsequent roller coaster of emotions. I put together a list of some helpful tips I learned along my journey in hopes to help anyone else who might be feeling the same way. 

Take Morality Out of Food

Our diet culture, which is a billion dollar industry, creates a narrative that only certain types of food are healthy or unhealthy, good or bad, which is how many diets or weight loss programs are formed. Food is not inherently good or bad. When we label our food we give it moral value leading us to experience guilt, shame, and disappointment. The only “bad” foods that exist are ones that may cause an allergic reaction or ones that you simply just don’t enjoy. Another phrase to steer away from is “cheat meal”. This association can harbor those same feelings of guilt, shame and disappointment. With this mentality the perception becomes “This food is bad, I cannot eat it.” which inherently becomes “If I eat this, I am bad.”

Take away: Remember, food is not bad and you are not bad for eating it. Treat yourself with the same kindness and compassion as a friend. 

Do Not Overly Restrict

In the world of psychology there is what’s called the scarcity principle. The basis of this principle is that the less of an item is available the more attractive it becomes. In relation to food and dieting, when you cut a specific food group out of your diet with the expectation that you “can’t have it”, that food becomes scarce and suddenly you can’t stop thinking about it. If you’ve ever dieted, you know exactly what I’m talking about! Let’s face it, you will eventually end up eating this “forbidden food” and instead of eating a serving or two, you end up binging on it with the mindset of “tomorrow I will get back on track and won’t eat it again”. Once you stop telling yourself you can’t have something, your desire to eat it will begin to decrease. When you do actually have a craving you will more likely be satisfied with a serving instead of over indulging. 

 

Take away: Enjoy your cravings as they come instead of an all-or-nothing approach. Sometimes we eat for nourishment and sometimes we eat because it tastes good or we’re in good company. Either way, it is okay!

holiday food guilt pumpkin pie

You Do Not Need to Earn Your Food.

Say it again, you do not have to earn your food. Along with diet restriction, we tend to determine what we can eat by bargaining that we will either eat less the next day or that we will have an extra workout to make up for it. There were times I would spend 4+ hours at the gym trying to out work what I ate and it was miserable. When you do this you end up creating a negative relationship with food, exercise, and yourself. You are allowed to enjoy your food, whether it’s pizza or a salad, it is not a prize to be won or a privilege that is earned. 

Take away: You deserve to enjoy food with no strings attached. 

Ask For Help.

If you feel out of control and you don’t know where to start, ask for help. Registered dietitians are a great resource, they are the experts when it comes to diet, nutrition and lifestyle. Whatever your goal may be, a dietitian can help you get there in a healthy and sustainable way. We have a registered dietitian on staff who would love to answer any of your questions!

Therapy is another great resource to help you challenge diet culture and disordered eating patterns. Sometimes our bingeing and restricting behaviors can stem from our past trauma. A licensed therapist can help you work through these obstacles and help find better ways to cope with emotions without using food. 

Take away: Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. 

Health and Fitness is a Journey, Not a Destination. 

Your diet will not be perfect all of the time. Your workout routine will not be perfect all of the time. You are human and that’s okay. Creating a healthy and sustainable lifestyle means that there is room for dessert, a rest day, or whatever life throws at you. It means that you have the flexibility to still be healthy and happy, while also enjoying your favorite foods. 

Take away: Everyday may not look the same but trending in the direction of our goal over time is what ultimately matters. 

Enjoy your holidays and remember, what you eat does not define your worth. Life is too short, so just eat the damn cake!

Author: Mary Pershall, BS, Full Scale Fitness Personal Trainer

personal trainer posing in saint george utah for Full Scale Fitness

 

Mary Pershall, personal trainer in St. George, UT.

10 Stretches Not to Skip In Your Workout Routine

Stretching can be the most overlooked and/or skipped part of any exercise routine because it may not seem important. However, you can add many health benefits to your workout program just by implementing these 10 simple stretches at the end of your workouts. A few of these benefits include an increase in flexibility and range of motion (ROM) in joints, a decrease in pain and tightness in specific areas and an improvement in overall posture. The 10 stretches are as followed:

1. Lateral Neck Stretch:

    1. How to Perform:
      1. This stretch can be done seated or standing. Keeping your chest up and back straight, in good posture, tilt the head to the LEFT, lower your LEFT ear to your LEFT shoulder. While doing this, focus on keeping your RIGHT shoulder depressed. Complete stretch on both sides.
    2. Muscles Targeted:
      1. Levator Scapulae
      2. Sternocleidomastoideus
      3. Trapezius
      4. Scalenus Medius
    3. Benefits of the Lateral Neck Stretch:
      1. Can help relieve headaches
      2. Reduce pressure and stress on cervical (upper) spine and its vertebrae
      3. Increase range of motion and flexibility of the cervical spine

2. Lateral Side Stretch:

    1. How to Perform:
      1. This stretch can be done seated or standing. Keeping your chest up and back straight, in good posture, tilt your body at the waist to the LEFT, lowering your LEFT hand to the ground. At the same time, lift your RIGHT hand vertically over your head and reach to the sky. Complete Stretch on both sides.
    2. Muscles Targeted:
      1. External Oblique
      2. Quadratus Lumborum
      3. Internal Oblique
      4. Latissimus Dorsi
    3. Benefits of the Lateral Side Stretch:
      1. Reduces tightness and can relieve pain in lower back
      2. Relieves pressure on vertebrae of the lumbar (lower) and thoracic (middle) spine
      3. Increase range of motion and flexibility of thoracic and lumbar spine

3. Seated Double Hamstring Stretch:

    1. How to Perform:
      1. Sitting with both feet stretched out in front of you, hinge at the hips while keeping your back in a neutral position. Extend your arms out toward your toes.
    2. Muscles Targeted:
      1. Hamstring (Semitendinosus, Semimembranosus, and Biceps Femoris)
      2. Calf (Soleus and Gastrocnemius)
    3. Benefits of the Seated Double Hamstring Stretch:
      1. Reduces tightness in calf muscles, hamstrings, and lower back
      2. Increases range of motion and flexibility in the pelvis
      3. Improves overall posture

4. Side Lying Quad Stretch:

    1. How to Perform:
      1. Lying on one side of your body, keep everything in a straight line. Bend the knee of the top leg bringing your foot to the back of the body. Reach back with the same side arm and grab your foot.
    2. Muscles Targeted:
      1. Quad Muscles (Rectus Fermoris, Vastus Medialis, Vastus Intermedius, and Vastus Lateralis)
    3. Benefits of the Side Lying Quad Stretch:
      1. Increased range of motion in hip and knee
      2. Release tension on Patellar Tendon and Knee Cap

5. Cobra Stretch:

    1. How to Perform
      1. Begin by lying flat on your stomach with your palms flat on the floor in a push-up position. Extend at the hips by pushing up with your arms, raising your upper body off the ground until your arms are fully extended. Tilt your head back and look up towards the ceiling.
    2. Muscles Targeted:
      1. Chest muscles (Pectoralis Major and Minor)
      2. Abdominal Muscles and Obliques
      3. The Diaphragm
    3. Benefits of the Cobra Stretch:
      1. Great way to open up the Diaphragm, making breathing easier
      2. Releases tension or soreness in the chest
      3. Loosens up the abdominal muscles and can decrease soreness
      4. Strengthens the wrists, arms, and back

6. Downward Dog:

    1. How to Perform:
      1. Lying flat on your stomach in the push-up position, using your arm and legs, lift your butt up in the air as high as possible, keeping your legs and arms straight. Focusing on keeping your feet flat on the floor.
    2. Muscles Targeted:
      1. Calf Muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus)
      2. Hamstrings (Semitendinosus, Semimembranosus, and Biceps Femoris)
      3. Lower Back (Quadratus Lumborum)
      4. Upper Back Muscles (Latissimus Dorsi, Rhomboids, and Trapezius)
    3. Benefits of Downward Dog:
      1. Releases tightness and tension in the posterior chain of the legs (hamstrings and calves)
      2. Decreases pain and tightness in low back and buttock
      3. Increases range of motion in knees, ankles, hips, and lower back
      4. Stretches muscles of the upper back
      5. Strengthens wrists, arms and shoulders

7. Wide-Legged Forward Bend:

    1. How to Perform:
      1. Standing up with your feet spread apart. Bending at the hips, reach down to the floor with your hands directly beneath you.
    2. Muscles Targeted:
      1. Hip Flexors (Iliospoas and Iliacis)
      2. Groin
      3. Hamstrings (Semitendinosus, Semimembranosus, and Biceps Femoris)
      4. Quads(Rectus Fermoris, Vastus Medialis, Vastus Intermedius, and Vastus Lateralis)
    3. Benefits of the Wide-Legged Forward Bend:
      1. Increases range of motion in the hips
      2. Releases tightness in groin and hip flexors
      3. Decreases pain and tightness in the lower back

8. Standing Chest Pull:

    1. How to Perform:
      1. Standing perpendicular to a wall, reach behind you with the hand closest to the wall. Turn your body away from the wall, feeling a slight pull in your chest and shoulder. Perform on both sides.
    2. Muscles Targeted:
      1. Chest muscles (Pectoralis Major and Minor)
      2. Anterior Deltoid
      3. Rotator Cuff
    3. Benefits of the Standing Chest Pull
      1. Releases anterior pull on shoulder
      2. Increases range of motion of shoulder
      3. Decrease tightness and tension in chest, shoulder, and bicep

9. Arm Across Chest:

    1. How to Perform:
      1. Standing upright, pull one arm across the chest, wrapping the other arm around it. Using the off hand, pull on the arm and shoulder being stretched.
    2. Muscles Targeted:
      1. Triceps
      2. Muscles/tendons/ligaments of the shoulder (anterior, medial, and posterior deltoids)
    3. Benefits of the Arm Across Chest Stretch:
      1. Increases range of motion in the shoulder
      2. Loosens tendons and ligaments in shoulder
      3. Relieves tightness and soreness in the triceps

10. Kneeling Forearm and Wrist Stretch:

    1. How to Perform:
      1. Kneeling with your palms flat on the ground and your fingers pointed toward your body, keep your elbows almost straight, shift your weight backwards, putting pressure on the wrists.
      2. Flip hands over to the back of the hands, performing the same as before.
    2. Muscles Targeted:
      1. Muscles of forearms and wrists
    3. Benefits of the Kneeling Forearm and Wrist Stretch:
      1. This is a good way to improve range of motion in finger joints, as well as the wrist.

Children and Healthy Behaviors

Many things come to mind when pondering the topic “healthy”. I am a kindergarten teacher for Akron Public Schools in Akron, OH and this is something that is vital for me as an educator of young children to master. Most people think of food when they think of the word healthy. And in a way, they are correct! The foods we eat help us with the way we think and provides us with the energy we need for everyday tasks like school, recess, and evening activities! The amount of physical activity and the amount of rest we get each day takes a huge role in becoming and maintaining a healthy, well-rounded human being.

In my perspective as a teacher of young minds, the students do, as I do. They are very observant to the environment around them. That is why it is so important to MODEL. Children mimic all behaviors that they see. This can be positive and negative. In my classroom, we have many “brain breaks” throughout the day. These consist of a program called Go Noodle, a healthy snack, and some kind of hands on manipulative with no direct instruction. These help the child give their brain that enrichment that they need by doing it in their own differentiated way to meet their needs. I also have had a Full Scale Fitness personal trainer from the Akron area come into my classroom to teach a lesson about being healthy and different ways to “make the heart happy”. This was a great success for my students and they continued to refer back to him during health discussions for the remainder of the school year.

BE A ROLE MODEL

Children watch and imitate adults and look to them to learn everything from saying please and thank-you to fitness and nutrition behavior. Children can also pick up on their parent’s attitudes about food. As role models, parents need to make sure they’re demonstrating a healthy attitude toward food so their children do, too. This same thing can be applied to being active. In Akron, OH, there are vast amounts of opportunities for fitness for the whole family. Going to Cuyahoga Valley National Park for hiking, biking, or even just a simple nature walk is a great example. Parents can also look into personal training and dietitians to assist them with the confidence in being a good role model for their children. If you have any questions about healthy decisions or getting your child active, contact us and we would love to help! Email us at [email protected] or give us a call at (419) 906-0204.

Benefits of Cold Showers

I had always heard studies about the benefits that can occur from taking a cold shower, but I never took the initiative to actually follow through and do it. These benefits include relieving stress, increasing energy, good for skin and health, and helping with muscle recovery. I have been taking cold showers now consistently for over a month now and I have no desire to switch back to hot showers now. It has provided me with so many benefits. It has helped me take care of my skin during this cold season. Hot showers will harm essential protective oils your skin contains. This is what causes dry skin and irritation (Migala 2017). I no longer need to apply as much skin moisturizing since I switched over to cold showers.

Cold showers will also help enhance the effect of shampoo moisturizing compared to hot showers. I also found that cold showers gave me more energy throughout the rest of the day. I found that because the cold shower put my body in a small state of discomfort and forced me to wake up. I felt an additional boost of energy each time I took a shower. Hot showers didn’t affect my energy levels because it didn’t challenge my body compared to the cold showers. Lastly, cold showers saved me a ton of time throughout the day. I used to take 20 minute showers because of how relaxing the hot water could be. The cold showers have been much shorter and have provided more physical health benefits to me.

IN CONCLUSION...

I encourage you guys all to try and take just one cold shower and see if you notice any of these benefits. Getting into the shower initially is the most difficult part. Once you get past that, your body will slowly get used to it and it will get easier. You will be surprised at how good your body feels when you are done with.

Work Cited

Migala, Jessica. “Can a Cold Shower Really Benefit Your Hair, Skin, and  Metabolism?”Health.com,  6 Jan. 2017, www.health.com/beauty/benefits-cold-showers

The Keto Diet

Listen to the Registered Dietitians (RDs), not the celebrity magazines.

As a personal trainer, I am exposed to all types of questions regarding nutrition and diets. Majority of the time I have an answer and provide the information they need but that isn’t always the case. Recently many clients have been asking about the ketogenic diet and if it is right for them. Initially, I always say the same thing when it comes to a question on a specific diet – if you can’t do it for a lifetime, don’t do it at all. Therefore, the ketogenic diet (a low-carbohydrate diet, higher fat consumption, higher protein consumption and scheduled fasting stages) is something that isn’t recommended. I did want to find out more information on the diet itself and what our registered dietitian (RD) thought about it.

Carbohydrates are your brains main fuel source

Rachel Suba, RD, LD is currently the online registered dietitian for Full Scale Fitness. She also is the head of the sports and nutrition program at the University of Oklahoma. Rachel is a highly sought after in her field and I 150% take her professional and clinical word to be the truth. So I asked Rachel, “What is your professional opinion on the ketogenic diet?”

She responded…

“My professional opinion on the ketogenic diet:

  1. It’s only been scientifically proven to be beneficial for those with the medical condition epilepsy. Even so, only been found to be effective in children.
  2. The diet itself puts you in a TOXIC state of ketosis and those in ketosis (for medical purposes) are monitored by a physician.
  3. It cuts out key food groups with key nutrients the body needs.
  4. Carbs are you brains MAIN fuel source and even some brain cells cannot function without carbs.
  5. As far as sport performance, research does not show an improvement in performance and in fact even shows decreases in performance since the body has to work harder to process foods and therefore it takes longer to get the “energy” from the foods.
  6. The long term impact is that people regain the weight back (if they’re using it for weight loss).
  7. Other negatives – Muscle loss (due to the lack of carbohydrates to supply muscle growth), constipation (missing a lot of fiber), high cholesterol (due to the high fat consumption), and deficiencies in vitamins and minerals.

Overall, it’s a fad diet and isn’t advised by health professionals.” – Rachel Suba, R.D., L.D.

Please keep in mind that carbohydrates are what fuel your body to keep going! Carbohydrates are digested and stored into the muscle tissue / liver as glycogen. This glycogen is then extracted and broken down by enzymes through a process called glycolysis and formed into adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is what your body uses for physiological processes / muscle contractions and is found in all living tissue. Therefore, a decrease in carbohydrates equates to a decrease in ATP production and that is not beneficial for any athlete or individual exercising (again, see bullets 5 & 7).

You heard it here first folks! Avoid the ketogenic diet unless you’ve been suggested to do so by a licensed physician and/or registered dietitian. If you’re looking for help on finding the right “diet” or nutritional program to follow, contact us at Full Scale Fitness! We will gladly help you out. Our personal trainers are always eager to help clients out in the nutritional field and for those that need the extra assistance (such as a meal plan or consultation), our registered dietitians are here to help as well!

Andy Hanson, M.S., DBC-1

Mindfulness in Strength Training

Break your training plateau and bring your fitness to the next level with mindfulness.

Many of you are probably familiar with the term “mindfulness,” which is appearing more and more frequently amidst popular health-culture circles across the globe. While “mindfulness” is most commonly associated with meditation practices or psychological health, let’s examine how mindfulness, and more specifically the incorporation of mindful strength training, can be applied to your routine in the gym to achieve exceptional results!

Don't go through the motions, go through your emotions.

Mindfulness is defined as “the state of being consciously aware.” It refers to active examination of the present moment, including the internal and external sensations observed and/or experienced by a person. In regards to training, consider for a moment your own fitness routine. While we love dedication and consistency in training, the word “routine” itself can be indicative of a health plateau, stagnation, or a sense of “going through the motions” – in other words, a lack of progress.

Someone once said, “The brain is the most important muscle you can exercise,” a sentence that contains numerous levels of truth. Without getting into the nitty-gritty science of it, by being mindful of an exercise’s target muscle (or muscle group) throughout the entire motion, neural pathways between the brain and the connected muscle fibers are strengthened and eventually the muscle will contract harder and more readily. This increases the efficiency of movement and range of motion, thereby yielding greater force production, more power, better coordination, and improved endurance, just to mention a few!

So how do we strengthen the mind to muscle connection? The process is actually quite simple and does not require extreme changes to your usual routine; however, mastering this technique requires discipline, patience, and active focus. To begin, identify the target muscle (or muscle group) of the exercise to be performed. Before initiating the exercise, focus your attention on the target muscle, contract it and relax it. Now, with proper form, begin the exercise, focusing all your attention on the contraction of the target muscle. Maintain an active mind throughout the set and reset between repetitions if necessary. Don’t forget to breathe!

Discipline, Patience and Active Focus

To illustrate this idea, let’s take a look at a specific example: the bicep curl. This simple movement is commonly seen in a gym setting, but we often perform the motion throughout our daily lives as well. Consider this: you pull a gallon of milk from the refrigerator. Although you have essentially just performed a bicep curl, it is likely that zero thought was given to the movement or to the muscle it subsequently engaged. The next time you reach into the fridge for a cool glass of protein-packed 2%, focus on squeezing and flexing the actual bicep muscle to pull the milk jug from its place. This is the mind to muscle connection: being consciously aware of how you are performing an action and what muscles are being used to complete it. This mentality should be implemented for every single exercise you perform. The same idea can be applied to posture. When taking a seat in your office chair, your gluteal muscles should engage (think squat form) and take the main “weight” of the action. Similarly, when walking up stairs, be aware of your muscle engagement and weight transfer. Pushing off with your heel instead of your toes will engage your posterior kinetic chain (glutes, hamstrings, and lower back muscles) and will reduce strain to the knees. These are the ways in which we build strong neural pathways to strengthen the mind to muscle connection. It can be as simple as a change of mindset!

So whether you are the beginner, looking to gain a solid foundation in fitness through strength training, the veteran bodybuilder, hoping to reverse old habits or correct bad form (and possibly find your inner Zen, eh?), or the mellow yogi, wishing to apply the power of your mind to other physical feats, developing a strong mind to muscle connection will benefit you in all aspects of fitness and allow you to better achieve your individual goals!

Practice Mindfulness Today

Get behind our fitness philosophy today by allowing us to design an individualized program for you! We are mindful of various lifestyles, so we offer in-home personal training for residents of Akron, Cleveland, Canton and the surrounding northeast Ohio area, and are able to design personal online programs as well to fit all your training needs! Please call or text at (419)-906-0204 for more information. If you have a question about this article or suggestions for future articles, please contact us at [email protected]

Exercising For Energy

Today, most jobs require a variety of different types of energy. This could be cognitively, physically or in my case, both. I am in a profession that requires a lot of physical and cognitive energy.  Being an Akron Public Schools kindergarten teacher it is a necessity that I have extreme amounts of enthusiasm about everything. On the cognitive side of my job, there is constant differentiation and classroom management. This is something that appears to be extremely difficult when my little kiddos come into the classroom at 8:15 in the morning. Being 5 to 6 years of age, you are never tired (even if you are) and need to be entertained/intrigued in order to learn something. In this kind of profession you would think a lot of rest would help prepare me for such daily endeavors (yes, absolutely it does) BUT, there is another part of my life that really helps me be more successful at what I do.

Exercise is a huge part of my life. Even after a long day of teaching and planning, I will always make my way to the gym. Why? Well, let’s think about the word energy and what it means. Energy is the strength and vitality required for sustained physical or mental activity. Now, when we think about working out and fitness, a word that we may relate to this is strength. When we actually think about it, we need to be strong in order to be able to maintain our “strength” for our daily routines and tasks.

Physical Fitness Improves Mental Fitness

According to ACE (American Council on Exercise), new research shows the remarkable effect of moderate-to-vigorous exercise on brain structure and function. A brisk walk during a morning break or a cardio class at lunchtime balances neurotransmitters and other chemicals in the brain (serotonin, BDNF and more). Substances responsible for influencing brain activity related to mood, attention, learning, motivation, and arousal. That’s why you’re likely to feel calmer, yet more alert and better able to focus after exercise. Exercise also helps the brain and body cope better with stress. That’s good news for people who work in high-pressure environments. So for me, the gym is a place to release physical energy to regain my mental energy.

Taking the time to work on myself after working with the children all day has improved my quality of life more than I would’ve ever guessed. My advice is to get through the struggle of the after-work blues / tiredness and find your way to exercise. After about a week of doing this regularly, it just becomes a part of my daily routine! If you struggle with the concept of taking the time to go to the gym, consider hiring an in-home personal trainer and let them bring the gym to you!

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anybody can start today and make a new ending.”

Honey For Your Health

Akron Honey Company x Full Scale Fitness

People often associate honey with Winnie the Pooh or Baloo the bear from The Jungle Book, but don’t typically think about the actual health value that comes with the golden sweetness! Granted, two big lazy bears don’t conjure up the best body images! So, we decided we would ask a local beekeeper and Akronite entrepreneur on the health benefits of honey.

A DELIGHTFUL DISCOVERY

Wesley is the owner of the Akron Honey Company (www.AkronHoney.com) and has established himself as one of the top honey-men in the Northeast Ohio area! Wesley has been responsibly raising honeybees in Akron, since 2013. What is unique to his story and company is that the beekeeping locations are residential and not countryside. His apiary sites are located right in the heart of Akron at Crestland Park, Highland Square (Saint Vincent Saint Mary) and Middlebury.

When we asked for some general information on the health of honey, Wesley stated, “When eaten, it has been known to assist in weight loss, boost energy and the immune system.  It also is excellent at soothing a sore throat, improving the digestive system, and has been known to assist in falling asleep faster and more easily, as well as soothe coughs.” This was supported via our registered dietitian, who informed us of honey having antioxidant, antimicrobial, and general soothing effects for those who partake in the consumption. Our RD also directed us towards the World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics in showing that they recommend it as a natural cough remedy for those >1.5 years of age. Craving honey yet?

It turns out that it gets better as Wesley then added an additional area of wellness that we were not familiar with! There are topical application / wearable benefits of honey. Wesley informed us that, “When we use honey on our skin, the benefits are as equally stunning. It improves skin quality as a moisturizer and exfoliate, softener and soother, prevents wrinkles, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.” Straight from the keepers mouth!

Be sure to check out www.AkronHoney.com and support local Akron businesses! If you have any questions feel free to contact a personal trainer or our registered dietitian at [email protected] or Wesley at [email protected] We hope to hear from you soon!