Sunday, June 30, 2013

Studying for Certification in Personal Training

And so it begins. Yesterday I signed up for the Certified Personal Trainer course through ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association).  I’m SO excited, like a kid with a new toy!

I held a group fitness instructor certification for several years, back in my aerobics days. At the time, I was leading eight to twelve aerobics, spinning and toning classes each week. My kids were babies and I didn’t want to go back to a regular full-time job, so I turned my fitness hobby into my job. Eventually, as Jake and Shelby got older and into school, I worked my way back into the work force a little bit at a time. I let my fitness certification expire when the scale tipped almost entirely to me working full time outside the fitness industry. It’s been over 10 years since that certification was current, and I’m finding out that quite a bit has changed in what is known about things like the best ways to burn fat, nutrition theories and objective-specific training.

When I held my previous fitness certification, I practiced basic knowledge of using music and choreographed movement to lead people through an hour-long workout session. I acquired my certification in a weekend-long seminar ending with a practical and written exam. My goal this time is to be able to offer potential clients the entire package: health coaching that includes a step-by-step plan starting at where he or she is now, working methodically toward where he or she wants to be. It will require getting to know the client’s history, current condition, body type, current exercise and eating habits, likes and dislikes regarding activities and food, and more. I want to be able to educate and guide clients into a fitness lifestyle that develops around his or her evolving goals.

The course I just enrolled in is much more in-depth than my previous training. It covers topics like Anatomy and Physiology, Kinesiology and Biomechanics, Health and Physical Fitness, and Nutrition. I hope to be able to complete the program in three months or less. My studying will be done in my off time (evenings and weekends) while continuing to work full-time at MLive Media Group. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

I’ve mentioned here a few times how awesome our bodies are at taking care of themselves. I feel the same way when I think about its ability to compensate for the stresses we put on it, which is how we grow stronger when we exercise. Think about times when you’ve experienced this before. Have you ever been put to a physical challenge, pushed past comfort, and felt your body overcome it and become stronger because of it? Isn’t that an amazing feeling? It’s a feeling athletes and regular exercisers get that makes them feel addicted to working out. You MUST get out of your comfort zone in order to grow – physically, emotionally, intellectually, and professionally.

I remember feeling physically weaker than I expected after I delivered my first child. I’ve always 
been pretty good at doing push-ups and other upper body exercises that are difficult for many women. I stopped most of my workouts during my last trimester of pregnancy. The first time I worked out after childbirth, I couldn’t do push-ups! Twenty-one years later, that’s the one thing that stands out in my memory about the changes in my body after childbirth – my inability to do push-ups. Obviously, it bothered me, so I set out to prove to myself that it wasn't a permanent set-back. I started out by doing as many push-ups against the wall as I could do. After several days of that, I moved to the floor and did as many as I could from my knees. Once those became easier, I moved to full push-ups from my toes. At each level, I truly did push-ups until it was physically impossible to do even half of one more. During rest, my body got stronger to compensate for the stress I was putting on it.

Bottom line: you have to push yourself past your comfort zone in order to get stronger. This can be true for many areas of your life. It’s tough, but it’s worth it to reach your goals. Exercising is always good and is necessary to maintain good health. To get stronger, your exercise needs to be a bit uncomfortable. Notice, I said uncomfortable, not painful. Pain is your body’s signal that something is wrong. Always pay attention and listen to your body, but don’t be afraid to test the limits of your comfort zone. The discomfort doesn’t have to last a long time. Just push farther than you thought you could and then back off. Then rest. Each time you do that, you become stronger because of it. Simply:

  • To maintain, stay comfortable
  • To grow stronger, briefly push past comfort to nearly impossible, then rest

I’ve had other experiences of pushing myself beyond what I thought was possible, the most intense being my eleven weeks in Marine Corps boot camp when I was 18 years old. Talk about pushing past   
my comfort zone! I found out I could do things I never imagined I would ever do: pull-ups, push-ups, forced marches carrying packs as heavy as my own body weight, climbing a 15 foot rope, competing with men in obstacle courses, and enduring extremely intimidating drill instructors shouting and pushing me past limits I never envisioned, much less thought I’d bust through.

Our minds and bodies are much more powerful than we give them credit for. With motivation, determination and commitment, they can be trained to be as strong as necessary to handle what we ask them to.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Plug In

In my 20s and early 30s my life revolved around raising kids, working full time, and keeping my household running as smoothly as possible. As the kids grew and became social and active, it was all I could do to keep up with them while handling the endless other chores and responsibilities that come with being a working mom. Now, in my 40s, I’m in a different stage of life. My responsibilities have changed a bit, and I have matured emotionally, socially and professionally. That doesn’t necessarily mean I have more time available, but the life-stage change has allowed me to shift some priorities.

You’ve heard the phrase, “It takes a village…” That phrase is usually used in reference to raising a child. It comes to mind for me, though, when I think about my community in general. Our city is our community, as is our school, our church, our neighborhood, and even our work-place. We each have places and roles in our communities. We thrive in our communities. We have much because of our communities. In return, we each have a responsibility to contribute to those communities.

I didn’t think of it like that during those years when I was raising young children. I was overwhelmed with just keeping my own family and life afloat; I didn’t feel like I had room in my life to get involved with helping others. After all, along with working, I spent time each week in my kids’ classrooms helping teachers handle the variety of learning and behavior levels, until my kids got old enough to not want me there anymore. Then I joined the PTO so I could stay involved and help out behind the scenes. As the kids grew and became more active in sports and extra-curricular
activities, I took different positions with the teams' parent committees in order to stay close and involved in their lives. So, you see, I didn’t have time for volunteering in the community. Or so I thought…

Come to think of it now, volunteering in the community is exactly what I was doing. Even though in my mind, it was selfish – I wanted to stay close to my kids for as long as possible – the activities I chose were in fact contributing to my community. Other children and their families were benefiting from what I was doing, and I built fun relationships with other families in the process.

Now that I’m in this “more mature” phase of my life, I recognize the importance of giving back to the communities I live and work in. Giving back isn’t just a responsibility, it’s therapeutic. When I was a single mom for about five years. I discovered Westwinds, my church. The place and the people came into my life when I needed them most. I was feeling a bit lost, and I needed another type of family. They took me in and put me to work. I offered the skills I had to help with things like office tasks, making connections and editing their weekly newsletters and emails. Again, I was volunteering and helping others, but for me, it served to bring me some peace.

Now, I’m very happily married and helping to raise two young stepchildren. My role as a step-mom is different than that as a mom to Jake and Shelby. Katie and Collin already have two very involved parents. So now I'm blessed to have an opportunity to have a positive influence on Katie and Collin’s lives and support them as they grow and learn and follow their dreams. Once again, those are things that are my responsibilities, but they bring me great joy and keep me feeling young.

As far as giving back to my communities now, I try to stay “plugged in” through continuing to volunteer at Westwinds and serving on a couple of business group committees. As my involvement in all four of my kids’ lives evolves and priorities shift, I hope to seek out and get involved with organizations that I feel I can be of service to. It’s the right thing to do, and it feels so good to do it.

Some ideas I can already think of that I’d like to tackle someday are:

  • Being a “big sister” for the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization
  • Spending an hour or two a week tutoring in reading at elementary schools
  • Spending an hour or two a week keeping an elderly person company
  • Using my marketing skills to bring awareness to a cause I believe in
  • Serve food to the homeless on Thanksgiving day
If you can think of more, I’d love it if you add to my list in the comments section below.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Shoulder Recovery Progress

I had outpatient arthroscopic surgery on my shoulder on June 5th to fix a bone spur and tear in some tissue. Now, only two weeks later, I have almost full range of motion with my shoulder. Some of the motions aren’t completely pain-free yet, but at worst it feels similar to a sore muscle. I’m thrilled with the results and my recovery so far. My orthopedic surgeon says the quick recovery is due to me doing exactly what he told me to do. I’ll happily give him credit for that.

The instructions I received and followed were:

  1. Take one of the pain pills he prescribed right after getting home from surgery, one at bedtime that night, and one the next morning, regardless of how it feels. That was to manage pain as the nerve block wore off.
  2. Remove the sling I went home in the morning after surgery and begin to move the arm a little.
  3. Begin doing small circle motions with the arm hanging down toward the floor a couple of times each day
  4. Keep ice on it as much as possible – the more the better. (I took the two days after surgery off work, which led right into a weekend, so I was able to sit with an ice pack on it almost constantly for 5 days straight before going back to work.)
  5. Take the anti-inflammatory drug he prescribed twice each day.

I'm still being a good patient, using the ice pack while winding down for the night and taking the anti-inflammatory drug. 

When I went for my follow up appointment ten days post-surgery, the surgeon told me I was well ahead of schedule for recovery and gave me the ok to begin strengthening the shoulder with band exercises.  I also found this helpful document in a google search about strategies and safety for training the shoulder after surgery.

Every single day, my shoulder feels better and stronger. I'm constantly impressed with and thankful for the ability of the body to heal itself. I plan on continuing with the band strengthening program my surgeon suggested for this week and next. After that I'll move into more of the traditional weight training exercises using caution. I'm looking forward to experiencing continued quick progress toward 100% mobility and strength.