Saturday, July 27, 2013

Self Myofascial Release, IT Band and the Rumble Roller

I have had a number of friends and family (mainly runners) who in the past had mentioned or talked about having problems with their IT Bands.  I really had no clue what they were talking about.  I have never been a distance runner and until I started using Beachbody workout programs I had never pushed very hard to improve my aerobic level.  Honestly, I've always been more of a weightlifter and use to really hate cardio.  But, after completing P90X, thirty days of Insanity: The Asylum Vol. 1 and twenty days of The Asylum Vol. 2, I went to perform the Championship workout (an hour long full body workout and fitness test).  I had done this particular workout twice before and was really looking forward to improving on the fitness test.  However, as I began I noticed pain in(on the outside of) my left knee.

Not only did this pain not go away, but I also had very little to no power to push off with that leg.  I was really worried that there was something seriously wrong with me.  I have had knee pain in the past and had surgery on my right knee many years ago, but the seemly sudden lose of power was very new and puzzling to me.  After looking into my symptoms online, I chuckled a little having finally learned what the Iliotibial or IT Band was and why it was causing me so many issues.  I began researching what I needed to do in order to rehab and overcome my new condition.  Over and over again Rest and Myofascial Release were recommended as being the best treatments.  Due to the fact that I was three-quarters of the way through my workout program, I really didn't want to stop my workouts and rest.  But, I am very glad that I listened to what I had read and the advice of good friends.  I performed only upper body workouts for about 10 days, during which time I also started performing Self Myofascial Release (Foam Rolling).

Luckily for me we had a foam roller in our house that I didn't even know about (thanks Kris), it was a smooth model similar to the one pictured on the left.  After reading up on the subject and watching a few videos I began to work the Vastus Lateralis (outer thigh), the Glutes and also the Tensor Fascia Latae (which includes the IT Band).  After I was done foam rolling, I would then spend time stretching out my posterior chain (calves, hamstrings and glutes).  After just 3-4 days I really felt so much better and wanted to get make to my normal workout program, but I knew that in doing so I would be putting myself at greater risk for further strains or injury.  Since then I've learned the importance of beginning treatment all the way down the kinetic chain and when I now work on loosening up my legs I start with the fascia of the foot and slowly work my way up spending a good amount of time on the Soleus/Gastrocnemius (Calves).  Another change that I have made over time is moving from the smooth foam roller to the Rumble Roller (pictured to the right).  The nubs on this roller act much in the same way as the thumbs of a message therapist/acupressurist, getting deep into the muscle tissue and aiding in the release of any trigger points.  There are many good videos and instruction out there on Myofascial Release, but some of my favorites are from Dr. Mark Cheng.  These videos can be found on his YouTube channel or on the BeachbodyVideo channel as well.

I hope that you will find this information useful and that you'll begin to set time aside for Self Myofascial Release!  Please let me know if you have any questions or would like any more information on anything covered above, including techniques or products.  

Friday, July 26, 2013

Confessions of a Workout Junkie...Part 1! Love the Sweat...Hate the Smell

I will be the first person to admit that I have a problem.  I am honestly a Workout Junkie, who just can't seem to get enough.  I'm addicted to the natural high that comes with an intense workout, as the result of your body producing Endorphins, Dopamine and Norepinephrine.  I feel most confident, self assured and at times even unstoppable when I am completely covered in sweat.  In fact not only do I not look forward to my rest days or days off...most of the time I don't take them.  Don't get me wrong if I feel worn out and feel that my body is starting to experience the symptoms of overtraining I make sure to rest and allow my body time to heal.  But, we'll save that discussion for another day. :-)

Being totally drenched, when working out, is like a badge of honor!  You wear it with pride and everyone around knows that you earned every last bead of sweat.  They understand the determination and the effort that you put forth to become more physically fit, and to change the way that you look/feel.  Most people can appreciate what you're doing and some are even inspired by your actions.  However, for some of us, there are unpleasant side-effects from working out that last long after we are done.  Believe it or not, sweat itself is actually colorless and odorless.  But when it mixes with bacteria found on the skin, that is when it gains its offensive smell.  After a while our workout clothes seem to have a permanent odor that we are unable to get rid of.

I have tired any number of products to help eliminate or reduce these odors, but have only had mixed results thus far.  Some of the products that I have used in the past are: Tide with Febreze, a number of different fabric softeners, various dryer sheets and oxyclean laundry additive/stain remover.  Most of these products seem to help a little, but none really ever made my clothes smell fresh for very long.

The latest product that we've begun to use is Downy's UNstopables in-wash scent booster.  To be honest with you, I lead a busy lifestyle and very rarely watch TV or even keep up with the news or current events.  On top of that, when out shopping I'm usually the type that goes in with a list and plans on getting done as quickly as possible.  So I had not seen or heard about these until my brother had brought them home.  After using these for the last three weeks, I would have to say that this product has been the most effective at removing/covering up the unpleasant odor of my workout clothes.

But, really all of this got me thinking and made me very curious to know...What tips and tricks do all of you have when it comes to fighting stubborn gym clothes odors?  I would really love your feedback and to be able to learn what works for you!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

No, I am not on a "Diet!" Yes, I am eating healthy.

Questions that I'm asked quite often by people who have known me for a while, "are you still on a diet?" or "how is the diet going?"  Because, I have been eating better for about the last 10 months now, these questions are more funny than annoying.  I have changed my diet, I exercise daily and I weigh 60+ pounds lighter than I did last year.  However I am not on a diet, I am not just eating differently or eating less in order to lose weight or to reach a goal weight.  I am striving to treat food as medicine or fuel.  Working on consuming foods that provide nutrients and truly nourish the body.  At times this is not easy and I'll have the occasional cheat snack or meal, there have even been days where I just can't stop eating.  One thing that I've found that not only helps reduce these cravings but also helps me on those days where I just eat and eat, is to have healthy foods prepared, ready and on hand.
Overnight Slow Cooker Apple Cinnamon Steel Cut Oats -

If you keep good food in your fridge and in your home, you will eat good!  And on those days where you just can't stop eating, at least you'll be more likely to fill up on foods that are better for you.  Here are some foods that I try to always have available to me.  First we'll start with simple foods that we buy constantly and keep in our fridge or in my lunch box and a little explanation as to why I like them.  I always keep different protein sources on hand, most often this is beef or turkey jerky.  Not only is protein important to build and maintain muscle, but it also helps to keep you feeling fuller and for longer periods.  Another good source of protein (but, also has carbs) is Greek Yogurt, here I try to stay away from the ones that have a lot of sugar.  On top of providing both protein and carbs, this snack helps to satisfy my sweet tooth and reduce my cravings for less healthy sweets.  I also keep healthy fats on hand, this is usually mixed nuts or peanut butter.  I know many people, especially those "dieting" avoid fat as if it were the plague.  First of all, eating fat does not make you fat.  Eating excess calories, regardless of where those calories come from will be stored in the body as fat.  Also, I believe that not only do you need to eat fat (healthy fat) to burn fat, but there are also fats that help to boost your metabolism and can aid in burning calories and losing weight.  Some of my favorites are the fats from nuts, avocados and coconuts.  My carbs are generally mixed in with meals, in the form of vegetables, fruits, legumes and grains.  Carbohydrates that have become staples in my diet are quinoa (which is a very nutrient dense grain, and is actually very high in protein), brown rice, broccoli and steel cut oats (see above pictures and link, I also highly recommend the Pumpkin Pie flavored recipe).

Most often I saute some broccoli and then mix in about 4-5 cups of cooked quinoa, a little salt and pepper, parmesan cheese and some shredded cheddar/colby jack cheese.  Quinoa is fairly neutral in taste and can be used in many different applications, most commonly it's used in salads or replacing rice or pasta in dishes.  Here's another recipe that I really love using quinoa.
Quinoa Pizza Bites -

Finally because I am on a body building program (Body Beast), of course I have to keep lots of healthy lean protein in the fridge.  Two of my favorites, not only because of their relatively inexpensive price but also because of their versatility.  The first of course being chicken and the second tilapia.  There are so many different ways to prepare both of these proteins.  But, here are two of my favorite recipes.
Cilantro Thai Chicken -
Keep it Tight Tilapia -’s_keep-it-tight_tilapia.aspx#.UR_LN45YyZY

One last tip...So far I've briefly discussed a few things that I eat.  Another important belief that I've followed and which I feel is very important to keeping up or boosting your metabolism is eating a meal or snack every 2-3 hours.  This means that I eat very often, but my meals and snacks are smaller.  Never skip meals or go long periods without eating.  Our bodies protect themselves and when they feeling that they are being starved, our metabolism will slow down as the body goes into survival mode and begins to store fat.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Insanity: The Asylum Vol. 2

After completing 30 days of Insanity: The Asylum Vol. 1, I decided to move on to Insanity: The Asylum Vol. 2!  Both programs are very intense and physically demanding, but they are also very different! Volume one is a much more cardio based program, with one day of weight lifting/strength training.  Whereas Volume 2 definitely changes the focus to resistance training with lots of weight lifting(3 out of the 5 workout days).  I enjoyed both programs a lot and I'm sure I will do them again in the future!  If you'd like to learn more about Volume One or my first experience doing a Shaun T workout program, please read my review in the "Insanity: The Asylum Vol. 1" post.

In The Asylum Vol. 2 you workout 5 days a week and have two rest/stretch days.  But, before you start the program I would highly recommend that you watch and follow along with the Agility Tutorial.  This workout shows you many of the exercises that you will be doing throughout the workout program.  In fact after struggling through X-Trainer and Championship in week one, I did the tutorial a couple times a week for the next two weeks and it really helped the moves become second nature.

X-Trainer - This is a full body, cardio based workout.  There is some resistance training(using your body weight).

Upper Elite - Is your upper body resistance training day.  Not really any cardio, but use weights that challenge you and you'll feel it for sure!

Power Legs - Lower body resistance training.  Again, not much cardio, but the burnouts are pretty intense.

Back and 6 Pack - On your last resistance day you're working your abs and back.

Championship - Is a tough, full body workout incorporating both cardio and resistance training.  It is not as demanding as Gameday in The Asylum Vol. 1, but it is an amazing workout!

Ab Shredder - One of my favorite Ab workouts!  Slightly longer than Ab Ripper X, Cardio Abs and Beast Abs...But, it is a lot of fun!

Pure Contact - Is a great training program for teaching your body how to land from all the jumps and intense Insanity moves.  It's also a nice little 25 min cardio workout.

One of the first things that I noticed doing The Asylum Vol. 2 was that I was getting light headed and was hunger all the time.  I was eating about every 3 hours and was consuming around 2200 calories a day, but with the increased weight lifting my body was trying to build lean muscle and that takes a lot of calories.  So I slowly began increasing my caloric intake, but it wasn't until I started consuming between 3000-3200 calories a day that I felt satisfied and like I was giving my body the fuel that it needed.  I could have stayed at around 2200 calories and my body would have continued to burn off fat, but being in that catabolic state I would have been breaking down and losing muscle as well.  When I started The Asylum Vol. 2 I weighed 173lbs, and dropped down to 171lbs before increasing my caloric intake.  I ended up doing this workout program for an extra 10 days (40 days overall) due to issues with my IT band, during which time I was only doing upper body workouts.  Here are my measurements at the start and end of Isanity: The Asylum Vol.2...
                Start              End
Weight -   171lbs           176lbs
Waist -      34"               34"
Hips -       37.5"             37.5"
Chest -     40"               40.5"
R. Arm -   16"               16.5"
L. Arm -   16"                16.5"
R. Thigh -  22.5"           23"
L. Thigh -  22.5"           23"

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bowflex SelectTech 1090 Adjustable Dumbbells

I have had these adjustable dumbbells for about a year now.  I purchased them to continue and build my home gym and also in preparation to begin Beachbody's P90X exercise program.  The main reason that I choose this particular set of Bowflex dumbbells is the wide range in weight.  By simply turning the dials on the side you can go from 10 lbs all the way up to 90 lbs.  Not only does this save space, as one set of adjustable dumbbells replaces 17 sets of conventional dumbbells, but it also saves money as buying those 17 sets of dumbbells would easily cost more that $2500.
For the past seven months I have used these dumbbells during my P90X, Insanity: The Asylum Vol. 1 & 2, and Body Beast workouts.  The dumbbells are very easy to use, and I have not had any mechanical or maintenance issues with them.  There are a few moves that feel a little awkward to me, simple due to the overall length of the dumbbells(from dial to dial).  But, with a little modification to the moves and with repetition, the moves become more comfortable and feel more natural.  One thing that I wish I would have done is purchase the stand for the dumbbells.  I have not hurt my back picking these weights up, but I have in years past and I know how helpful elevating the weights can be to saving your back.  Overall I am very glad that I purchased these dumbbells.  They are a little on the pricey side (full retail is around $600), however they are high quality and a lot less expensive then buying 17 sets of dumbbells.  I would recommend these SelectTech 1090's to anyone!  If you don't believe that you'll ever need to use that much weight, Bowflex does offer adjustable weight dumbbells that go from 5 lbs up to 52.5 lbs and cost a couple hundred dollars less.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"Must be the Shoes!"

Completing P90X and 30 days of Insanity: The Asylum, has really made me a "workout junkie!"  I just can't get enough and being lucky enough to have a beautiful wife who not only shares this passion with me but is my inspiration, we just continue to build up our workout libary.  Currently we own P90X, Insanity, Insanity: The Asylum, Body Beast, Turbo Fire and Turbo Jam.  We have purchased Insanity: The Asylum Vol. 2, RevAbs and pre-ordered Les Mills Combat.  All that I can say is that these programs work!

When I started getting serious about transforming my body, I had bought a pair of Nike Free Run 3's.  I had purchased a couple of pairs previously for my wife and she had really loved them.  I really like these shoes and they are very comfortable.  I'm not a runner, but I'm sure that these shoes would really excel and that I'd feel the comfort running in them.  The only thing that I noticed and which is to be expected from wearing running shoes to do cross-training is that they offer little lateral support.  Because of this there were times in my training that my shoes felt fairly loose, side-to-side.  I still use them from time to time while cross training and would purchase another pair, but for serious cross training I would recommend the Adidas Adipure Trainer Shoes.

These are those funny looking Adidas Toe shoes that you see people wearing around the gym.  I hadn't really heard of them and probably would not have tried them on my own.  I heard the benefits of these shoes from my wise father.  And because my parents own and operate a sports store in Western Samoa, they even sent me a pair to try out.  The first time that I went to try them out, I couldn't get my toes to go where they're supposed to and gave up.  While getting the toes in place is still something that takes me some time, as I manipulate them in.  Other than that I do not have any problems with these shoes.  In fact they are now my primary workout shoe!  They really make all the different movements in my workouts feel more natural.  They are comfortable, extrememly light weight and cushion surprisingly well.  Currently Insanity Asylum Vertical Plyo would be my extremly high impact workout, and I wear these shoes doing this workout as well.  I do not notice any addition jarring or discomfort.  While I will still buy regular cross trainers and running shoes, I am also going to buy more of these Adidas shoes and will continue to use them for the large majority of my workouts!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Insanity: The Asylum

While going through P90X, I was excited for and getting ready to start 90 days of Body Beast!  I've always loved body building/weight lifting and the Body Beast workout program looked to be my kind of program.  However after dropping 24lbs and starting to expose my abs by eating well and following the P90X workout program, I decided that I really wanted to have a well defined and ripped mid-section.  Because of this I decided at the last minute to do Insanity: The Asylum!  Cardio workouts and my aerobic level in general have always been a weak point in my fitness, and I knew that I was gonna be in for some very rough days!  In fact after following the workout program for about two weeks, I was really debating if I wanted to continue.

All the workouts are pretty intense and they left me feeling wiped out.  There were many days that my body was so sore, and I really didn't know if or how I was going to make it through my workout.  But, I kept with the program and did the best that I could everyday.  In the end these were usually some of my best workouts, I had to dig deep and find the mental focus to push my body through.  The sense of accomplishment at the end of these days, helped to fuel my fire and want more!  I would say that the roughest part of The Asylum is the Gameday with Overtime workout, and then following that up by doing Vertical Plyo the very next day!

After 30 days here are my results!  I

Weight: Starting-181lbs  Current-173lbs
Waist: Start-35.5"  Current-34"
Hips:  Start-38.5"  Current-37.5"
Right Thigh:  Start-23"  Current-22.5"
Left Thigh:  Start-23"  Current-22.5"

Athletic Assessment Test

Agility Hesiman:  Start-8  Current-10
In&Out Ab Progressions:  Start-33  Current-42
Mountain Climber Switch Kicks:  Start-59  Current-67
Agility Shoulder Taps:  Start-4.5  Current-6
X Jumps:  Start-22 Current-29
Agility Lateral Shuffles:  Start-10.5  Current-16
Agility Bear Crawl:  Start-6  Current-8

Next up I'm very excited to try out Insanity: The Asylum Vol. 2!  From the previews and hearing Shaun T talk about this program, it is going to be a killer!