Tips for Healthy Business Travel

“On the road again!”  The song rings truer today than any time since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  People are traveling this summer for vacations, and business travel is picking up again.  I have traveled on planes twice in July and each segment has been full.  Being in summer, vacation travel is predominant, but I also saw businesspeople occupying seats. 

Regardless, if you are traveling for business or pleasure, maintaining some type of fitness is difficult eating out and in hotels.  You don’t have the time, knowledge, and likely motivation, to keep yourself going away from home.  As we get back into moving around the country, I want to share ideas and tips to help you not lose any progress.  Remember, moderation is the key to keeping you playing hard as an athlete in your game of life!

Photo by Dana Tentis on Pexels.com

Eating food that doesn’t negatively affect your waistline is always tough on the road.  Sandwiches galore and fried food galore always seem to be the only options.  Similar to being at home, pick options that are grilled or baked whenever possible.  Choose sides that are fruits and vegetables that have not been cooked down and drowned in butter or sugar.  You do not always have to eat premade salads; those get boring also.  Bring a thermos type cup you can refill with water to reduce your costs and have a readily available hydration source.  Watch your caffeine levels with time changes.  A couple cups of coffee or tea are fine throughout the day. 

  • Water: drink half your body weight in ounces daily
  • Make sure your plate has color with different fruits and veggies at each meal
  • Take half your dinner back to your room, if possible, for a meal the next day
Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

Getting a workout in may not be on your mind when packing a carryon suitcase.  These days, travel hotels have enough equipment with dumbbells and the usual treadmills to get something done.  A TRX™ comes with a bag you can stuff into your backpack or suitcase.  A 3-in-1 exercise band from Target or Wal-Mart also can fit into your carryon luggage.  In 15-20 minutes, you can get a strength training and cardio workout in your underwear from the comforts of your hotel room.  Look for a Tabata playlist on Spotify, Pandora, or whatever music streaming service you use. 

  • Focus on your major body parts with compound moves like squats and push-ups
  • Any type of physical activity and exercise is a positive on the road
  • HIIT type workouts are the best for improving cognitive function and physical fitness

Be realistic in your overall expectations during business travel.  You won’t lose significant muscle missing a day or two in your regular routine, it just feels like it mentally.  Making time for a workout is important for your career.  You are mentally sharper, and people do pay attention to those that are more fit. 

Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

As I write this blog, I am currently in Denver on a business trip.  This morning I used Spotify to play a Tabata playlist and did a workout in the hotel gym.  Total time with warm-up and stretching was 30 minutes:  3 rounds of Tabata and 10 minutes on the treadmill followed by stretching.  Packing shorts and a workout shirt didn’t take up extra space and I wore my sneakers on the plane.  Last night I took half my dinner back to the room and put in the fridge for lunch today before my afternoon meeting.  My business contacts at dinner did not mind at all that I took leftovers back for this purpose.  I feel good, saved my own company money, and ready for the day’s events.

For help on your next business trip, email me at athleteinthegameoflife@gmail.com.  Sign up for my newsletter at mattpeale.com and look into my coaching programs.  Life is not easy, and we all need help to achieve our best.

Nature vs Nurture, What are Your Disease Risk Factors

Treating the source or treating the symptoms of the source?  That is a question for the human condition.  Medicines make trillions of dollars a year treating symptoms.  If medicines treated the source to eliminate symptoms, how would the human condition improve?

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

COVID-19 brought a flurry of activity to quell symptoms, and a flurry of controversy in the process.  The human condition is driven genetically with some results we cannot change, and some that are 100% in our control.  The science of epigenetics says 5% of disease risk factors are in the cannot change category, and 95% are related to our environment and choices regarding foods, exercise, and stress management.  Early on in the pandemic, those with higher risk of severe symptoms and death were those who were obese, overweight, and over 60 with additional health problems.  Was this really a surprise?  To me as a fitness expert, not at all.

We cannot consciously control the ingredients of our genetic material.  All humans have the same genetic code, it is just arranged differently for each of us.  What dictates 95% of our gene expression are nutrition, air pollution, physical activity, stress, water intake, what we think, and what we believe.  All of these factors directly contribute to our immune systems and the ability to fight viruses, bacteria, and environmental stressors.  When these stressors overload our genes’ ability to adapt, we are more likely to have severe symptoms from viruses and bacteria.

I work in a health club, which is populated by generally healthy individuals.  Yes, some members and employees contracted COVID-19.  Nothing can stop a virus from mutating and spreading, that is scientifically proven.  Unlike places where people with high disease risk factors lived or worked, there was not an outbreak of severe infections.  Is this coincidence, I think not, it is more scientific evidence through gene expression.  Healthy individuals have a higher antioxidant level through proper nutrition, hydration, and exercise, than those that are sedentary with poor nutrition.

Lean protein sources

Regardless of what side of the political aisle you are on, the one constant is nobody in public health discussed the SCIENCE of improving our immune systems to naturally fight infections.  Instead, public health said gyms are infection spreaders and then don’t leave the house unless you have too.  If public health is really about public health, they would say to exercise 150 minutes per week at a moderate-to-vigorous level, do weight training twice per week, and eat a diet full of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, with plenty of water on a daily basis.  That message never got out as your body’s best defense against severe symptoms and death, even though the CDC has evidence to show it. 

Photo by Andres Ayrton on Pexels.com

Back to the question beginning this blog, treat the source or the symptoms?  By treating the source, proper diet and exercise, the risk of severe symptoms take care of themselves in 95% of the population.  The human body is the most resilient and efficient machine on earth.  Unfortunately, 1/3 of Americans treat it miserably, and almost half or more terribly.  Yes, that corresponds to 1/3 being obese and half or more overweight.  No medicine can improve our immune system, it only treats the symptoms of disease the immune system cannot handle.  Medicines can only go so far on their treatment efficacy.  When the body is in shambles from disease and abuse, the dyke will have more holes than fingers to plug the holes.

I am my own testimonial to the contents of this blog.  Since 1997, I have not seen a doctor for illness, or have been on any prescriptions.  At the age of 46, I eat, drink, and consume alcohol moderately.  My weekly exercise exceeds the 150 minutes, yes, and I do not jog or run for any of my aerobic movement.  Am I a freak of nature?  No.  Am I superhuman?  No.  I take care of my body and trust it to work properly because I treat it properly.  Funny how that all works, isn’t it.

When Was the Last Time You Honestly Evaluated Your Health?

“I want to be healthy.”  “I want to be fit.”  “I want to be toned.”  “I want to have energy.” 

All of these are great ideals, but what do they mean?  These statements represent the most common reasons why my clients hire me.  The problem is they are too vague and therefore hard to accomplish.  Your version of being healthy is likely different from my version of healthy.  Depending on your age, being fit can also have different meanings.

  • Have you ever gotten specific about what your health goals really mean to you? 
  • What does being fit allow you to do that isn’t happening now? 
  • What really is fit compared to your current condition?

As a Corrective Exercise Specialist and personal trainer, I assess a client’s movement patterns to determine what muscle groups are tight and weak.  That assessment is objective to determine which areas of the body to stretch and strengthen as a baseline.  What it does not tell me is why are you coming to see me in the first place.  An in-depth conversation about your daily habits at work and home is extremely important to find out why you move in the manner you do.  The most vital aspect to our conversation is determining why you are standing in front of me in the first place.

Squat assessment

Stripping down the layers of a client’s reasons for wanting to invest their time and money in my services goes beyond doing squats and elevating their heart rate.  Embarking on a journey to change a person’s health is an emotional one.  Of the two reasons why people change, inspiration or desperation, desperation is the cause 95% of the time.  Getting a person to divulge this information is crucial to setting expectations, program adherence, and building a long-term relationship for success.  A person’s health history is fraught with disappointments, pain, failures, and embarrassing experiences.  You didn’t wake up this morning in your current condition, it happened over months and years.

I have been in the fitness industry since 2008 and have helped clients achieve a variety of goals.  All have their own stories that mean a lot to that person.  Goals and the why often change as we dig deeper into what truly is important to changing their lives.  What starts as “I want to be fit,” morphs into “I want to compete in a triathlon.”  “I want to have energy,” becomes “I want to play on the ground with my granddaughter and not have problems getting up after five minutes.” “I want to be healthy,” truly is “I am tired of being in pain and not playing tennis to the level I know I can.”

Bonnie Stegen, university professor

Get personal with yourself about your current situation.  Maybe you haven’t admitted to yourself or significant other that you’re embarrassed for not properly rehabbing a past injury, and now your whole body hurts each time you walk up the stairs.   The cumulative injury cycle has caught up with you over the past three years.  It is easy to say, “I want to be more fit,” not “my twisted ankle still hurts, and I have pain in my hips each time I pick up a case of water at the store.” 

Billy Maisano, investment advisor

So, what is it?  What do you really want to change about your health?  Maybe you are tired of being on blood pressure and cholesterol medications at the age of 42.  You know your balance is terrible and a fall will break more than a hip at the age of 62.  Your back hurts and you’re 40 pounds overweight at 52.  You really want to do adventure vacations and can’t walk more than a block without needing to rest for 10 minutes.  You’re turning 35 and feel 55 because you partied the last 15 years and suddenly have an unexpected child on the way.  All these reasons are valid and can be helped with a specialist like me.

My book

I’m giving you an opportunity for a free consultation, regardless of what your true health outcomes are.  It’s free and confidential.  Nobody is currently winning in your situation, so you have everything to gain and nothing to lose.  Let me help you get an idea on the process needed to change your life and make the most out of where you want to go and what you want to be.  No judgement, I promise, only realistic answers to the questions you have been afraid to ask.  Email me, Matt Peale, at athleteinthegameoflife@gmail.com.  Put “Healthy” in the subject line so I know you read my blog.  We will schedule a Zoom or phone call conversation to ease your mind and give you some facts to work with.  I guarantee you will feel better with the knowledge you receive after a 15-minute conversation.

Are You Getting 150 Minutes per Week of Moderate-to-Vigorous Intensity Exercise?

You have heard it so many times that the message now sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher, move more and eat less.  Easy to say, a lot more difficult to do.  Over one-third of American adults are classified as obese by the CDC, that does NOT include those people who are overweight.  Let’s be honest, fat parents usually raise fat kids.  How does the future look?  Not real promising for the American population. 

Are you a couch potato?

The internet and social media are full of trendy gimmicks, pills, and workouts to lift your ass cheeks.  Do they work is another story for another day, but they do make money.  In 2018 the CDC wrote their second edition of physical activity guidelines, this time including the cognitive benefits of exercise.  For this blog, I’m talking about the weekly minutes of physical activity you need to have for basic health.  My guess is most of you who read this blog are not getting these minimum requirements:

  • 150-300 minutes of moderate aerobic physical activity per week, or in conjunction with
  • 75-150 minutes of vigorous aerobic physical activity per week, and
  • 2 days per week of moderate or greater intensity muscle and bone strengthening activities

At the most basic level spread out in a “payment plan”, that is about 21 minutes a day of moderate physical activity, seven days per week.  I know what you’re thinking, and the answer is yes, you can combine muscle and bone strengthening activities into an aerobic session thus killing two birds with one stone.  To stay in line with the CDC’s obesity stats, one in three who read this are obese, and at least half are overweight.  With those facts in mind, you are very likely not meeting these minimum standards for basic health.

I’ll explain more about the intensity levels to help you understand if you are achieving them or not.  Moderate means your breathing is labored, and you can have a conversation with another person.  Vigorous means your breathing is harder and you cannot maintain a conversation.  Taking a stroll around the block while easily chatting with your friend or on the phone is not at the moderate level.  Many adults and older adults give themselves a break by saying they are active because they walk daily.  The truth hurts, and they are not at the moderate level the CDC states is needed to reduce health risk factors and improve cognitive function.

The best news is you can achieve the 150 weekly minutes in any way you want!  There are many options you can enjoy elevating your heart rate using all your body parts, and they are all correct answers.  Combining resistance training with aerobic training is the best bang for your buck.  Can you workout to hard?  You do not want to injure yourself of course, the answer is still no.  The more intense and longer duration of your physical activity the better for every aspect of your physical and mental health. 

So, you’re still holding on to the excuse of the gym not open, or not open at full capacity.  These requirements are still in effect 365 days of EVERY year, including 2020.  Even more so with a pandemic because stronger immune systems are directly associated with higher levels of fitness.  If reading the stats of mortality rates and health risk factors relating to COVID-19 has not changed your mind on being physically active, then death at an early age is what you are rightfully earning. 

Your living room can be a great workout studio if necessary

Use these straightforward guidelines for what they are, guidelines to help you make good decisions on how much exercise you need each week.  Color in the template using whatever crayons you want.  The artwork looks good on the refrigerator door regardless of the color combinations.  Pledge to yourself on achieving the minimum 21 minutes a day of moderate exercise.  Oh, and you can break that time up into smaller bouts of even five minutes, four or so a day.  BOOM!  I just blew your mind and pulled the excuse rug out from underneath you.

Email me at athleteinthegameoflife@gmail.com, and I can help you set up a program.  Go to my website, mattpeale.com, and download my video series and free report to help you use exercise to overcome chronic pain.  Buy my book while on my website as well to improve your knowledge.  Just because you are over 40 does not mean you are exempt from being healthy, active, and happy!

If You Know, or Are a Man Over 40, Read This Blog! Tips to Help Celebrate National Men’s Health Month

Muscularly Enlarged Neanderthals aka Men.  Well, maybe that is not what men stands for, but it’s damn sure close!

Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

We are testosterone based which makes us hairy, more muscular than females, and often times hard-headed when you try to reason with us.  As teens, we are true assholes that know everything and are indestructible.  In our twenties, the brain finally forms fully, and we begin to calm down with life’s responsibilities.  I’d say Neanderthal characteristics are still in effect during this time because the sense of immortality still lingers until we hit 30.

Into our 30’s men learn what being a father and husband means.  Our friendship circle changes from only college and high school friends to couples’ outings if we’re married and hanging out with coworkers.  We go to bed earlier, wake up earlier on purpose!  Hangovers hurt more and something happens with our waistlines and hairlines, one gets bigger and the other smaller in the wrong directions.  Domestic stresses of home ownership, honey do lists, and shuttling kids around to dances and sports.

I can only speak of what I know, and that knowledge stops in the 40’s decade.  Sedentary life begins to take affect from a lack of exercise the previous 10-12 years.  Extra weight stays on and doesn’t come off through half-hearted attempts at dieting or doing some fad exercise program for a week.  Our testosterone levels begin to dip, and we don’t feel as strong anymore.  It takes us a few minutes to warm-up and aches and pains linger past where we think they should.  College expenses are for real and maybe a Brady Bunch family happens after divorce and a second shot at marriage.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

The constant through all of this is the accumulation of poor health habits that lead to serious health risk factors into our 50’s and beyond.  June is National Men’s Health Month and when we have Father’s Day to celebrate one of our major achievements of raising offspring.  One of the best features of the human body is its resiliency.  Regardless of how bad you treated it in the past, there is opportunity to completely change the future.  No, you can’t naturally grow back your hair without weaves and potions.  You also can’t recover quickly from a hard night of drinking anymore.  What you can do is make small daily changes that add up to major positive outcomes in 90 days or less.

Look at your father and his health, what kind of picture is he?  Remember, the beer can doesn’t fall far from the trailer, so if you do not want to follow in those footsteps, the time is now to make those edits.  Here’s how:

  • Cut down the alcohol to weekends only and find more ways to drink water daily
  • Meal prep for taking lunch into work and better choices at dinner (also saves $$$)
  • Get 150 minutes per week of moderate-to-vigorous exercise (21 minutes per day)
My client Neal Hightower and I

Life is a process, and the results of these actions will not all become apparent until a few months down the road.  Changing a habit, good or bad, takes 60-65 days, so this will be a challenge with ups and downs.  Nowhere did I mention bench press 300 lbs, run 10 miles a day, or eat only tofu.  Stop making up bullshit excuses like these.  Any man can adapt to these changes over time and turn their lives around.  Your LIFE DEPENDS ON IT AS WELL AS THOSE WHO RELY UPON YOU.

If you need help, I am here for you.  Go to my website and look at my online course to help you overcome chronic pain.  Order my book and get expert insight into your health.  Listen to my interviews from around the country.  Get my free video series and report about back pain.  Let me be your guide to a healthy and active lifestyle.  You only live this life once, invest in yourself and you are guaranteed a 100% ROI!

Move or Die! Sitting All Day Is Not Natural for Humans

Fact or Myth:

  • Ancient gladiators had a fully equipped gym with an outdoor area for tire flips and pushing the sled
  • Native Americans based their nomadic movements on where the local gyms were at
  • The United States Colonial Army used TRX classes to prepare for defeating the British

Which one of the above statements is correct?  That’s right, none of them!  Without gyms and health clubs, these people were studs and could literally kill a bear with nothing but a knife or bow and arrow after stalking the animal on foot for miles.  No Group X classes either for the women left at home while their husbands were away fighting or kidnapped by the enemy.  They too had to be strong and survive physical tasks just to get food on the table and care for the children.

Why am I going to this extreme to discuss health and fitness?  Because over 1/3 of American adults are considered obese.  Millions of workers and older adults increased their sitting time over the last 18 months from the pandemic, making them more susceptible to death from heart disease, COVID-19, diabetes, stroke, and falls (older adults).  As our ancestors showed us, you don’t need a modern gym to be healthy and active.

Movement throughout the day is natural for mammals, and humans are mammals.  Sitting and staring at your laptop and devices are not instinctual lifestyle patterns.  This is why you get that feeling to stand up and move around after being seated for hours, it is hardwired into our brains that movement is natural and must happen regularly. 

Photo by Alexander Suhorucov on Pexels.com

If you read LinkedIn articles, you have seen the topic about mental health problems from isolation and being chained to laptops for longer than when people went into the office.  Physical health problems are directly related to mental health problems, and both could be resolved with more physical activity daily.  This goes for adults and children on distance learning programs.  I’m not going down the rabbit hole of reopening schools or not.  Physical exercise and physical activity are mandated by the CDC for children to have proper mental and emotional health.  In fact, 150 minutes per week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, with two days per week of bone and muscle strengthening, is the bare MINIMUM.

It’s time to stop the excuses for no gym membership.  Walking, doing push-ups and pull-ups at a park, and some basic stretching costs nothing, requires no home equipment, and suitable for all ages.  Pills, potions, and shakes do not and cannot replace physical activity and exercise.  To stay ahead of the Grim Reaper, you must get off the couch, turn off the device, and get moving!

Back to our ancestors, movement was part of their normal lives.  In today’s culture, you must make the decision to stay moving, or face the consequences of early death by disease and viral infections.  For me, it is a no brainer to stay active with hobbies I enjoy.  There are plenty of options that trick you into thinking you’re not exercising while you actually are.  Use your social networks to find bike rides, fun runs, baby & me, pub crawls, anything that includes moving while enjoying the company of others.  There is not a wrong answer for picking any activity that involves movement, fun, and socialization.

Get out and do something active daily for 30 days.  Share it on my Facebook page @athleteinthegameoflife, Twitter @MattPeale, or LinkedIn @MatthewPeale. Invite family and friends to participate with you.  Getting used to physical activity on a daily basis can do wonders for your mental health and positive attitude! 

To signup for my monthly newsletter, go to my website mattpeale.com.

Staying Grounded: How to Keep Your Feet & Ankles Healthy and Reduce Risk of Injuries

Do you have happy feet and ankles?  Yes, it may be an odd question and hard to define just what happy feet and ankles are.  For the purposes of this blog, happy feet do not refer to the animated movie or how you feel after getting a pedicure.  People that are unhappy with their feet and ankles are easy to pick out in a crowd.  They can’t stand very long, have possible issues walking or running, are prone to injuries, and may have swelling or inflammation regularly. 

Foot and ankle problems are not race, gender, sexual preference, age, or religious affiliation biased.  Many problems with your feet and ankles could be alleviated, or at least made less severe, by treating the muscles around your ankle joints a lot better.  Your knees could thank you also for being nicer to your feet and ankles.  Even your hips and low back benefit from heathy feet and ankles. 

Photo by Kindel Media on Pexels.com

April is National Foot Health Awareness Month by the American Podiatric Medical Association.  Most people take the health of their feet and ankles for granted, or that pain will stay with them forever.  This blog is to educate you to change your thinking on both.  Your feet and ankles are the foundation of balance and stability for the body when standing.  The major muscles around the ankle joint are the soleus and gastrocnemius, which compose the calf, and the anterior and posterior tibialis, which are on the shin.  The calf muscle points the toes down and the shin muscles point the toes up.  It’s vital to keep them in balance to avoid injuries and dysfunction all the way up to your lower back.

Typically, most people have overly tight calf muscles and overly weak shin muscles.  The calf muscles are one of the easiest muscles to stretch on the body.  The first stretch is very simple:  stand in a staggered stance with your feet facing forward, the back heel on the ground, front leg slightly flexed, back leg straight, and lean forward slightly.  Do not bounce, ease into the stretch and hold for 20 seconds then switch feet.  The second stretch is to put your heel on the ground in front of wall and point your toe up high as you can, like your foot is on the gas pedal.  Lean forward into the stretch keeping your toes pointed up, do not bounce, and keep the leg straight.  Hold each foot for around 20 seconds.

Calf stretch with toe up
Staggered stance calf stretch

Strengthening the shin muscles is also simple and can be integrated into your normal lifting program or done at home for overall health.  Walk like you have swim fins on, exaggerating your toes pointing up with each step as your heel strikes the ground.  Walk 30 total steps for 1-2 sets.  Another simple, not always easy, exercise to do is practice standing on one foot for 15-20 seconds.  If your balance is bad, stand close to a wall or stable object you can hold if you lose your balance.  Balance is a function of proprioception, how your body reacts to various stimuli in space.  It is a use it or lose it skill and can be regained through consistent practice. 

Keeping proper length-tension relationships with the muscles around your ankles can go a long way towards preventing Achilles’ tendon injuries, ACL injuries, low back pain, and shin splints.  While this list is not inclusive of all feet and ankle injuries, nor is it a fail proof method to avoiding all feet and ankle injuries, keeping the mobility, flexibility, and strength of this important joint is crucial for Activities of Daily Living (ADL).  If you’re a runner or weekend sports warrior, healthy feet and ankles are mandatory for providing the enjoyment you get from participating in such activities. 

Strengthening the anterior tibialis

For people with structural issues in their feet and ankles, please see a medical specialist who can help with your specific problems.  Wearing proper footwear for your activities that is in good condition is also important for avoiding injuries.  Ladies, high heels look great, but they are not your friend for keeping the ankles happy.  Also, performing squats elevating your heels also increases your chances for injuries by shortening your calf muscles and restricting range of motion.  Do NOT believe magazines and websites that tell you this position is great for your glutes.

To help you with ankle joint health, I have written an online course just for you called Overcoming Chronic Pain Through Stretching & Strengthening.  It provides pictures and videos for stretches and exercises that can help everything I mentioned in this blog.  I also guarantee or your money back after completing the course, if you do not see the results you desire.  Trust me, this can be life changing now and for years to come.  Check it out and also my website for more details and how to sign up today!

3 Moves Guaranteed to Reduce Low Back Pain

The presence of low back pain is significant in U.S. society with up to 35% of individuals experiencing reduced activity due to chronic back conditions and approximately 7% of that number with back issues that persist for 6 months or more (U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2019).  Whatever you do to reduce this pain never seems to work right.  You take ibuprofen, try to stretch in some way, even stand once-in-awhile to take the pressure off.  All to no avail and the vicious cycle continues.  I promise you are not alone in this struggle!

Let’s face it, your job description is not changing to give you more freedom away from that laptop, phone, and tablet.  So you have to do something different for pain relief than before or it is the definition if insanity.  Only because you haven’t studied like I have, do you understand which muscles to strengthen and which ones to stretch.  Luckily for you I took the guesswork out and created a self-paced course you can follow online.  It is simple to follow, easy to understand, and guaranteed or your money back after completing it, if you do not get the results you desire.  The course is Overcoming Chronic Pain Through Stretching & Strengthening.  Click on over to it and take a look.

Today, I’m sharing a little secret from it and giving three movements you can do from home to help alleviate that nasty low back pain! 

Erector Spinae Stretch
  • Prone floor cobra – lay face down on the floor, your arms are at your sides with palms down.  Slowly raise your chest off the floor, squeezing your glutes and shoulder blades together.  Keep your face looking down and head aligned with your spine.  Hold for a count at the top of the movement and lower yourself down in a controlled motion.  Some people also lift their legs to activate their glutes, and that is fine also.  Perform 15-20 reps for 1-2 sets
  • Erector spinae stretch – sit with one leg out in front of you, the other leg crossed over with your foot flat on the ground next to the knee of the extended leg.  Turn your body towards the up leg and place your opposite arm against the outside of the up leg.  Push slightly on that leg as you rotate your upper body as far as you can.  Feel the stretch on the outside of your glute and in your lower back.  Hold the stretch for 20 seconds then switch.  Perform this 1-2 times per side
  • Plank trio – get into a plank position with your forearms and toes supporting your body weight.  Hold this position for 20-30 seconds depending on your strength level.  Immediate turn to one side with that forearm supporting your weight, your legs are straight with one on top of the other.  Hold this for 20-30 seconds then repeat on the other side.  Place your hand down for support if needed, and stagger your legs with each foot on the ground if more help is needed.  Perform the sequence three times with 60-90 seconds rest between each sequence
Prone floor cobra
Side plank

Some of the muscles you my know involved with low back pain are the piriformis, psoas, and erector spinae.  Sitting keeps the erector spinae and piriformis weak and overlengthened, while keeping the psoas constantly contracted and overly tight.  The muscles in your abdominal region:  obliques, transverse abdominus, and rectus abdominus, are shortened/contracted, further pulling your low back muscles into an overstretched position.  What a person has to do is stretch the ab muscles and strengthen the low back muscles.  Doing sit-ups till you can’t move after sitting on your couch with your laptop only makes the problem worse.  By lengthening and strengthening simultaneously with the plank trio, you are helping to stabilize and reduce pain in your low back. 

These three movements can be integrated into your existing workout routine or become the start of a daily healthy lifestyle regimen to feel better overall.  Your golf swing, tennis serves, squats, gardening, etc., will all benefit from these simple exercises.  Remember, my course goes over these moves and more that can make a major impact on your quality of life.  I guarantee your satisfaction after completing it or your money back, I promise.  Click Overcoming Chronic Pain Through Stretching & Strengthening to sign up today!

5 Minute Routine at Work to Reduce Back & Neck Pain

The end of the pandemic is here!  No, it’s not.  Yes, it is!  No, it’s not.

Whichever end of the spectrum you choose to believe in, the truth is your neck and back pain from siting are here to stay unless you do something about it.  Every article on LinkedIn pushes a hybrid working from home and going into the office.  Whether that is true or not remains to be seen.

Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com

A typical going into the office day:

  • 30–45-minute commute sitting each way (driving, carpool, public transportation)
  • 6-7 hours sitting at your desk, in a meeting, on sales calls, etc
  • 1 hour sitting at lunch
Photo by Liza Summer on Pexels.com

A typical home office day:

  • 8-9 hours sitting at your dining room table, couch, or home office chair
  • Driving an hour for carpool or sports practice
  • 1-2 hour sitting while on devices/TV at night

Regardless of which method or combination of methods you choose for work, developing chronic pain from sitting is guaranteed!  What the pandemic did was increase the attachment to devices by requiring workers to be on more meetings than before as a way to ensure people are “working”.  If you were in denial of feeling the pain before March 2020, you probably aren’t now.

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How can you alleviate your muscle imbalances and pain while still being productive?  There are a number of stretches and exercises you can do standing next to your workstation, whether it’s in a traditional office sense or at your dining room office.  I’m asked in all my interviews by radio and podcast hosts how often should a person stand up and move around.  The answer is whenever possible.  Use that technology to set an alarm as a reminder to at least stand for two minutes every hour at the minimum. 

For those a little more ambitious that care about their health, here is a five-minute routine you can do twice or three times per day, without getting sweaty.

  • Arm flaps:  extend your arms at shoulder height to your sides, thumbs up.  With shoulders back, head looking forward and in line with your spine, raise your arms to touch thumbs above your head.  Lower them back to shoulder height in the starting position.  Repeat 15 times
  • Face pulls:  extend your arms in front of you at shoulder height palms facing down.  With shoulders back and head in line with your spine, pull your arms back toward your face, then return to the starting position.  Repeat 15 times.
  • 1 leg RDL with reach:  stand on one leg (use a wall or chair for balance if needed), extend the opposite arm at a 45-degree angle toward your head.  Reach across your body and touch the opposite knee of the leg you’re standing on keeping your arm straight and return to the starting position.  Do not lock your knee, keep it with a slight flex as you normally would while standing.  Repeat 10 times on one leg then switch.  As you get stronger and better balance, touch lower on your leg toward your foot.

These three movements can be done anywhere and anytime without weights.  All age groups (yes even kids doing online school) can do these and benefit.  The muscles worked are your hamstrings, rear deltoids, rhomboids, and mid trapezius.  These are muscles that get over-lengthened while sitting and typing on your laptop because you are hunched over.  Give them a try and email me at athleteinthegameoflife@gmail.com with how you feel after trying daily for a week.  You can also post on my Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  Want more help?  Sign up for my course Overcoming Chronic Pain Through Stretching & Strengthening.  Guaranteed to make a difference or your money back!

Tips for Healthy Eating While Working From Home

You are what you eat.  I’m sure you heard that numerous times in your life.  March is National Nutrition Month by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  If you’ve been working from home or sheltering in place, your eating habits may not be as healthy as they used to be last year.  Without dressing up for work, moving around much, and easy access to your kitchen for random snacking, the “WFH 15” may have invaded your waistline.

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Fear not!  March is the perfect month to regain control of your eating habits, and it can taste good too!  Week 1 encourages you to eat a variety of nutritious foods daily.  Try a new fruit or vegetable this week.  Raw is always the healthiest way and gives you the true flavor.  Pick fruits and vegetables with different colors because they have different antioxidants and nutrition profiles.  Also drink plenty of water, not soft-drinks and juices.  If you haven’t read a nutrition label before, read a few on the items you normally buy, could be eye opening!

Week 2 is about planning your meals.  From my experience, this is where people fall off the wagon.  When you don’t know what your next meal is, you make impulse choices which usually aren’t good!  You’re in a rush and find yourself starving!  The downhill spiral begins and it’s hard to stop.  Plan healthier meals with your family for everyone to learn new ideas and get on board with healthy lifestyle choices.  It doesn’t have to suck when one person is on a “diet” and can’t eat the same as others in the house.  By planning and cooking healthier, good tasting food, everyone enjoys together and reaps the benefits.

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Week 3 is taking your planning from the previous week and learning new skills to make delicious dishes that are good for you.  Try using fresh herbs, or new spices on meat, chicken, and fish that you already cook.  Stay away from breaded and fried, all you are tasting are breadcrumbs and flower anyway, not the protein you are frying.  You may even feel better and not have a stomach-ache after eating grilled and backed items instead of fried.  Wasting food truly is a sin in many ways.  Make smaller portions or reuse the leftovers in different dishes if you’re sick of the same taste.  Freeze what you don’t use after three days in the fridge if possible.  Your wallet will thank you also because a dollar can be stretched when you repurpose food items for other dishes.  How do you think gumbo and jambalaya became popular?

Week 4 is a good time to make an appointment with a Registered Dietician Nutritionist (RDN).  An RDN is educated on how to work with any special diseases and conditions you have.  They can also give more detailed guidance for weight loss and sports performance than a personal trainer or Corrective Exercise Specialist as myself.  Knowledge truly Is power and combining an RDN’s knowledge with a fitness professional’s knowledge gives you the total package for maximizing and enjoying a healthy, active lifestyle.

You can’t out lift, run, or cycle a bad diet.  Poor refueling choices have negative effects on everything you do and feel physically.  Being sedentary multiplies your bad choices to increase health risk factors like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke.  Those are three of the top five killers of Americans annually, and many could be prevented.  Add to it COVID-19 as a risk factor, and you know who has the most negative effects and chance of death, people who are obese.  Approximately 1/3 of all adult Americans are considered obese by the CDC, this does not include the millions that are overweight and headed to obesity.

For more information on nutrition and healthy eating choices, go to myplate.gov, cdc.gov, and eatright.org.