4 Stretches to do if you’re super tight!

Stretching offers numerous health benefits, unfortunately, most people either don’t stretch correctly, long enough or skip it all together. The most neglected component of fitness is stretching and for those who are the most tight, stretching is usually such an uncomfortable experience that they avoid it all costs.

After working in the fitness industry and training clients for over 20 years, I have a system that has even our most rigid, tight, “can’t touch their toes” clients, enjoying their stretching segments. We’ve found that if we can make a stretch comfortable enough that a client doesn’t even realize they’re stretching, they will often hold it long enough to allow the muscles to lengthen.

For this reason, we’ve found wall-stretches to be most successful at increasing the enjoyment of the stretching segment. While our clients are stretching, their back is in its neutral position which is very comfortable. They don’t have to use any of their muscles to support their back. They can instead just relax and focus into the stretch. They can also read or watch T.V. in this position which will increase the amount of time they hold any stretch for. Our clients find these stretching segments so enjoyable that they hold the stretches longer than they ever have before and are now stretching everyday. They would have never dreamed of stretching this much before!

Here are some sample wall-stretches:

Hamstring: Lie on your back with your legs against the wall with your heels towards the ceiling. Find a position where you can feel a light stretch in the back of your thighs. To make the stretch more intense, move your buttocks closer to the wall. To make the stretch less intense, move your buttocks further from the wall. Hold this stretch for as long as you feel comfortable. Try to relax and breathe in to the stretch. Feel free to read a magazine or watch T.V. while holding this stretch.

Hips and Back: Start with your legs in the hamstring stretch position. Now slowly let both legs fall to one side until they are resting comfortably on the floor (if you’re tight, it’s okay to have the legs suspended above the floor also). Try to feel this stretch through your hips and lightly through your back.

Adductors: Start with your legs in the hamstring stretch position. Now slowly separate your legs into a V-position until you feel a light stretch through your groin area.

Glutes: Move yourself back about one foot away from the wall. Position one leg so that the bottom of the foot is in contact with the wall and the knee is at 90 degrees. Cross the other leg over so that the ankle is resting on the thigh. To make the stretch less intense, move your buttocks further from the wall. To make the stretch more intense, move your buttocks closer to the wall or lightly press the crossed leg away.

Remember to hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds. This is when the real stretching actually begins and also remember that light stretching is much better than deep, painful stretching!

Try it out and let me know what you think.

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Staying consistent during the summer holidays.

Dear Clients & Friends,

I’ve had so many clients tell me they’re having a really hard time with workout consistency now that the kids are home from school and they are out of their routine. I have written some previous posts to give you some ideas on how to make sure you still get your workouts in no matter what.

Today, I wanted to show you a video clip of me going out for a run with the kids. You’ll have to excuse my amateur filming skills – it’s definitely not Jim Martin MVP Video Production quality. But hey, do you know how hard it is to film when you’re running?! Anyways, I hope you don’t get dizzy – maybe just listen and not watch. Click on the link above. Listen to some of the things that Brianna says. I’m confident that by involving your kids in your workouts, they’ll get something out of it too!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

ps. Happy Independence Day!

A huge congratulations to all of our clients who participated in the Summer Solstice 6 mile run/walk

Our Summer Solstice event was a huge hit! Check out the video clip above. I hope it inspires you to join us next year! It’s pretty amazing how awesome you feel when you cross the finish line!

Cut and paste the link below into your browser for an event recap.

http://www.nwpersonaltraining.com/subs/events/event_past_recap.php?event_id=63

You still have time to sign up for our Girlfriends & Dudes Triathlon on July 19th. YES, YOU CAN!!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

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Don’t set the goal as weight-loss. Try this approach instead!

Many people take this approach – ‘As soon as I get fit and lose weight, then I’ll start doing the things I’ve always wanted to do.” We suggest you take the opposite approach.

Set the goal and in the process of training for the event or activity you’ve always wanted to do, then you will get in great shape! It puts purpose to your workouts. And it’s such a positive, motivating focus.

For example, let’s say you set a goal of finishing a 10km fun run. Setting this kind of goal, because it has a deadline, provides a compelling reason to stick to the program and not miss workouts. In contrast, if the goal is to lose 10 pounds in 2 months, if you get off track, you can negotiate with yourself and say, “Well, I guess I can wait an additional week or two to achieve my goals.” But if you get off track with your training program while preparing for an event, you can’t call the event organizer and ask them to postpone the event because you aren’t going to be ready. Every workout or skipped workout will either positively or negatively affect your performance and your ability to achieve your goal. In addition, once you cross the finish line, that’s something no one can ever take away from you. You will always have your medal, t-shirt, and photos crossing the finish line. Whereas, with weight loss, you could lose the weight and then gain it all back next month and feel like a failure. Plus there is a lot of status associated with conquering a tough challenge or finishing a event, so your self esteem receives a huge boost providing you with the belief that you can achieve the next goal. We have also found when someone succeeds at a goal such as this, they then inherently look towards the next goal – it’s just human nature. So after you finish the 10km, then often you’ll decide to attempt a half marathon, full marathon, a challenging hike, a triathlon, etc. It’s a positive spiral. Whereas, with weight loss, it’s often a negative spiral. You may lose the 10 pounds but may still not be happy. Some people who have the most ‘perfect’ bodies are those that struggle with their body image the most!

For all these reasons, we suggest you keep the focus away from Body Image and instead focus on behaviors, events and actions. The end result is that you actually will start to lose weight, tone up and get in the best shape of your life en route to the finish line!

So grab a piece of paper and write down all the fitness goals you would like to achieve. This is your personal fitness wish list. Write down anything you have ever thought of achieving with regards to your own individual health and fitness. Which goal, if you achieved it, would make this year unbelievable? Have you ever wanted to hike the Grand Canyon, complete a marathon or triathlon, cycle through Italy, learn to Scuba Dive or inline skate or rock-climb, cycle the Oregon coast, or would you just be happy with working out 4x/week consistently? What are you health and fitness wishes? The only rule with this wish list is that none of your goals can be related to your body size, shape or weight. Stay away from listing a goal such as losing 10 pounds or 4 inches off your hips. Let’s keep this list positive, action-oriented, and focused away from body image. Then circle one item on this list, that you will focus on completing in the next 3 months. YES YOU CAN!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri

ps. On that note, if you’re not doing anything this weekend, join us for our annual 6mile Run/Walk, Live Concert and community fundraiser for the Kearney Breast Center.

http://www.nwpersonaltraining.com/subs/events/event_details.php?event_id=63

pps. Or perhaps you’d like to try our Girlfriends & Dudes Triathlon on July 19th. It’s a short distance so you can do it. And if you’re not feeling up for the whole thing, inspire a few friends and form a relay team!

http://www.nwpersonaltraining.com/subs/events/event_details.php?event_id=64

You’ve got to watch this video – it may be life changing…

Father’s Day is one week from today. Before you decide what to do for that special guy – dad, hubby, brother, son – watch this inspirational video first. It is one of the most incredible stories of all times! It’s 6 minutes long but trust me, absolutely, totally worth it. I’ve watched it at least 20 times and I am still in awe! I have competed in triathlons with this father-son team and it is one of the most humbling and inspiring experiences ever! So click on the link, sit back, relax and be inspired…

Your dad will probably never remember the tie you bought him. Your husband will probably never recall the backyard BBQ kit you got for him. Your brother will probably never remember the gift-card.

But they will forever remember the hike you took them on, the bike ride with a lunch stop, the golf game, or perhaps an event you enrolled each other in. The best gifts are those that involve time being spent together doing something you both love and/or doing something that offers a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.

So you’ve got one week to plan an active, fun day with that special guy in your life. Create a memory that will last a lifetime!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri

ps. On Saturday June 20th, we are offering a Dad’s Bootcamp at both our Vancouver and Portland studios from 8:00-10:00am. That could be the start of a very special weekend. Call 360.574.7292 or 503.287.0655 to register.

No Excuse for Excuses…

If you’re a consistent exerciser and never struggle with sticking to it, you can skip today’s blog. But if you’re like most people, and let work, the kids and other responsibilities get in the way, read for some tips on how to overcome these obstacles so you have the energy for work, kids and other responsibilities…

Not enough time: If you have trouble finding time to exercise, you’re not alone. A perceived lack of time is one of the most common excuses for not starting or for quitting an exercise program. But it really doesn’t wash. We have clients who manage large businesses, clients with 6-8 children and clients who seem to do it all. How do they do it? They make health and fitness a priority in their life. When life gets rough, exercise is usually the first thing to go when, in fact, it should be the last. Exercise is the glue to mental sanity when life becomes chaotic. Somehow, when others need you, your needs tend to end up on the back burner. Someone at work asks you to complete a project, your spouse needs your attention, the kids need some quality time, your friends are asking you why you haven’t called, and you’ve got a to-do list that extends well into the next 6 months. You can see how easy it is to convince yourself that the morning workout can wait until lunch and then until after dinner. Or maybe tomorrow and finally, “I’ll get back on track next month!” Commitments, responsibilities, and the demands of work, family and social life are always going to be there. When you allow yourself to put your own needs second to everything and everyone else, you’ll end up the loser. Research, in fact, shows that exercisers are more productive at whatever they’re doing. Translation: You’ll be able to do more when you’re in good shape. As for believing exercise is a huge time commitment, even 10-30 minutes a day, if done consistently, can result in health benefits. Here’s some tips to help you fit exercise in your day:

• Make an appointment with yourself, just as you would for your doctor or dentist or a meeting with your boss. That way, when someone asks if you can meet at 5, you can honestly say, “Sorry, I’ve got an appointment. How about at 4:00?”
• Stop putting it off! “I’ll start exercising right after New Year’s…in the spring…right after I’m finished with this huge project…once the kids get older…once the kids leave home…after I’ve retired…” Stop making excuses. Now’s the time to start because there will always be things competing for your time. You can choose to make exercise a priority in your life now or wait until you’re forced to make it a priority. We take our health for granted until we get sick. People who swear they don’t have a minute to exercise, then find themselves hospitalized for bypass surgery and out of commission for weeks, soon recognize that the extra time taken to exercise would haven been well worth it! The message is clear. Unless you take care of yourself now, one day you may find yourself unable to take care of your business, family or any of your other interests.

No energy: Those who exercise regularly know from experience that exercise actually leaves you with more energy!

Too old too exercise: No, you’re too old NOT to exercise! Every decade a 30 year old sedentary individual will suffer from a 10 percent decrease in muscle mass and aerobic capacity and a reduction in flexibility. Bone density deteriorates starting at age 35. By the time you’re 68, you’ll have experienced an 80 percent decrease in strength. By age 80, an individual will have lost half of their muscle mass. The good news is that if you exercise, these stats will improve dramatically. Even people as old as 90 have experienced the positive benefits of exercise, so it’s never too late to get started.

Hate exercise: In the beginning, exercise may feel like a chore but eventually it’ll become a need for both physical and mental health. It’s important to find activities you enjoy doing so that you’ll participate regularly, see the results and get hooked. Use music, try hiking or walking and add variety to your program to make it more fun. Exercise with friends. Studies show you tend to achieve better results that way because it’ll become more difficult to skip workouts plus you won’t get lonely during your workouts. There’s also no evidence to suggest that exercise needs to be painful. If it hurts that much, you may be doing too much, too soon.

Too out of shape to exercise:
One survey found the top reason why people choose not to join a gym is because they want to get into better shape or lose weight first. This backwards approach may never get you to your goals. Find a gym that’s not intimidating and where members seem comfortable going at their own pace and wearing whatever they want.

Gym scene isn’t your thing:
Sorry this won’t wash. There are literally hundreds of things you can do at home to get in shape. Your local book store will have books on designing your own program. Rent a fitness video. Hire a personal trainer to come to your house and design a program for you.

Health Woes: The health benefits of exercise always outweigh the risks. Certain conditions may make exercise more difficult but you can work around most problems. Consult with a professional who can design a program that addresses your specific concerns.

No or slow results:
One of the biggest hurdles new exercisers face is that the effort often doesn’t match the result. They’ve been exercising religiously for five weeks and jump up on the scale. Ugh, no change! They feel the program must not be working and give up. Unrealistic expectations can be a real downer. Instead of measuring your success by the scale, measure it by your energy levels. Monitor how many more repetitions you can do of a particular exercise. Keep track of how many more minutes you can do of a given activity. You may be making more progress than you think.

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri

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Learn how to stay motivated from someone who exercises everyday and has been consistent for over 30 years!

Happy Monday.

I wanted to wait and send this out a little later in the afternoon so you could assess whether you’ve started the week off on the right foot or not. By now, you should have a plan for the week – Which workouts will you do when? Leaving it up to how you’re feeling on any given day doesn’t tend to work very well and can easily lead to an inconsistent effort.

Instead of me preaching my message, I thought I’d introduce you to one of our members who has been a consistent, everyday exerciser for 30 years. She has obviously figured out what she needs to do to stick to her workout program. She’s got some great tips that I believe will help you if you have a hard time keeping the commitment to yourself. Click on the link and enjoy.

Posted in exercise, Fitness, health, Motivation by Sherri | 1 Comment

What’s the #1 thing you need to do to stick to your exercise program?

You’ve got to make the experience fun and enjoyable!

The biggest problem I face as a fitness trainer is that I’m offering a product that most people hate. Unfortunately, the majority of people do not like to exercise! So it’s my job to make the exercise experience as enjoyable as we possibly can.

Here’s some ideas:

• Participate in a program that you enjoy. Check out this 2 minute clip above of my Outdoor Bootcamp program. You’ll notice I’m giving my clients a great workout but also notice how they are laughing and joking around while I’m kicking their butts! If you like what you see, you can get more details and sign up at the following link. If this is not for you – figure out what is. Maybe it’s dancing or cycling or beach volleyball. Whatever it is, it’s got to be something you enjoy enough to want to do regularly enough to achieve great results.

http://www.nwpersonaltraining.com/subs/events/event_details.php?event_id=88

• Participate in fun active events so you develop strong relationships which will ultimately create an awesome working out environment. It’s always easier to stay consistent when you’re doing something you love with other really fun and cool people!

Check out this photo of me and my clients participating in a 5km Fun Run and finishing second in the costume division this past weekend. We enjoyed a fabulous workout and had a TON of fun! Can you believe we ran 3 miles in this thing!

Keep it fun people and you’ll want to stay consistent!

Yours in health & fitness,

Sherri McMillan

The best thing we can do for our kids!

If you have kids, you’ve got to help them learn to love to move their bodies and eat well at an early age. Then it will be easy to continue as they get older!

I had the opportunity to work with some Vancouver kids today to teach them that working out and eating healthy can be a ton of fun. Check out the video above. It’s so cute!

Here’s the reality…

These days kids hardly get any activity. Most schoolwork involves sedentary activity and with television and video games as after-school pastimes, the temptation to sink into couch potato-land becomes pretty overwhelming for our kids. Check out these startling stats:

  • Children today are approximately 40% less active than they were 30 years ago
  • 20% of children and teens are overweight enough to threaten their future health
  • One report states that the number of overweight children ages 6-11 has increased by 50% in the last 15 years and by 40% in those ages 12-17. Lack of exercise is considered a major contributing factor
  • 40% of children already have at least one risk factor for heart disease and reduced fitness due to an inactive lifestyle
  • Children spend an average of 26 hours a week watching television and also spend 25-30 hours a week sitting behind a desk

As the school year winds down, parents can plan ahead to ensure your kids get lots of activity this summer.

“Go outside and do something” or “Go ride your bike” you yell to your kids as you watch your favorite daytime show or football game. The “Do as I say, not as I do!” approach doesn’t have a very good track record. Children tend to mimic the actions of their parents so, if the extent of your daily or after-work activity consists of channel surfing and munching on chips, guess what fitness rituals your children will develop. The lifestyle habits you’re developing in your children today will determine how much junk will clog their arteries 30 years from now.

There are tons of activities that you could easily be doing with your kids. Cycling, inline skating, walking, hiking, a trip to the local pool, a pick-up game of basketball or soccer, … You could even design your own workout together including walks to the local park and calisthenics using the available equipment. The possibilities are endless.

Here’s some goals you should strive for. The American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for exercise and children are as follows:

  • Children should be involved in at least 30 minutes of daily physical activity like walking to school or cycling around the neighborhood, performing household chores or running errands.
  • Children should exercise three times a week for at least 20 minutes with activities that require moderate to vigorous levels of exertion, like brisk walking, stair-climbing, racquet sports, jogging, dance, swimming laps, skating, cross-country skiing or cycling.
  • For most children, it’s fine to do 15-20 minutes of resistance or strength training sessions twice a week using higher repetitions (25 reps) and lower resistance as long as there’s proper instruction and supervision.
  • Children should stretch on alternative days for 60 seconds each stretch.
  • Vary the activities to work different parts of the body.
  • Involve children in deciding what to do.

Kids who exercise can experience the following benefits:

  • Daily physical activity builds a healthy heart and stimulates muscle and bone growth
  • Healthy, fit kids have more energy, sleep better and often have better eating habits than their sedentary peers
  • One six year study found that the academic performance of students who exercised regularly had significantly improved compared to students who did not participate in regular physical activity
  • It appears that children benefit from better concentration, memory, creativity, problem-solving ability and overall mood for up to two hours following exercise
  • One report states that exercise can boost a child’s self-confidence and self-image. It also reduces aggression and decreases anxiety and depression.

So start them young and be a great example for them!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

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What to do when you conflict?

Yesterday on my morning run, I saw the oddest thing. This man was riding his bike while smoking a cigarette. My first thought was “What an interesting combination!” It made me think that many of us may have conflicting behaviors that don’t align with our ultimate vision for our lives.

For example, maybe you exercise regularly but your eating habits are horrible. Or maybe you eat well, but never workout. Perhaps, you’re really successful in your career but are really overweight and out-of-shape. Maybe you’re in great shape but you’ve got huge amounts of debt. Maybe you’re filthy rich but have been married and divorced five times and can’t seem to maintain a solid relationship.

It seems that happiness, what we all ultimately strive for, can only be attained when we have a balance in all realms of our life – physical, work, mental/emotional, relationships/social etc. When we are struggling in one area it seems to inhibit our abilities to be at our best and live our dream life.

No one is perfect but it does help to recognize which areas of your life are not lining up with what you want your life to be. Recognition and awareness allows for positive actions in the right direction.

Also, keep in mind that making positive action steps in one area can lead to positive actions in other areas. So don’t beat yourself up if you’re not where you want to be yet. Take it one step at a time. For example, my cycling smoker may learn to love biking so much that one day he decides to stop smoking because it inhibits his ability to progress and continue a more fuller enjoyment of cycling. It has been shown that smokers that take up exercise are more likely to quit smoking so cycling smoker is on the right track!

Are there any parts of your life that need to be put on the right track to your Personal Best? I’ve got a few redirections myself…

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri

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