Body Image Horizon

The sunrise over Santiago, Chile  

The sunrise over Santiago, Chile  

What if your body image wasn't tied to what you see in the mirror but the feeling you get when you look to the horizon? 

My clients and I often talk about body image, because, well, when you're in the business of healthy you tend to focus on social definitions of such. I guess to me, healthy isn't a number, but it sure helps as a guide. Like a sign on the side of the road that says, you're on the right track so long as you're following the right road. Signs like that can't be entirely relied upon when talking about "healthy" because, again, if you're traveling down an unhealthy path, what seems like a good number on one road, is a bad number on the next. It's the overall direction you're heading that determines healthy. A combination of motivation for traveling, signs that point you in the right direction and the feeling you get when you reach the destination. 

Now what am I trying to say with all these metaphors? I'm saying, look to the big picture, not the arbitrary factors. You're right where you are supposed to be. The small stuff can be taken as good or bad. Take your definition of healthy to the next level and really make lasting progress by moving your motivating factors away from the small stuff, focusing more on the end goal. The feeling you get from being truly balanced and heathy is so much more fulfilling than arbitrary numbers, that you won't want to rely on them ever again. Look out to the horizon and you'll find a new fulfilling definition of health. 

Combo Moves That Kill It

It's not the one thing that will do everything. It's the combination exercises that make huge impact. 

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Toned inner thighs require 2 things; the release of the outer aspect of the hamstring, and the straight column leg lift from a low lunge position. Both will elongate and strengthen. 

Stem Cells For Repair

Rotator cuff tears are one of the most common injuries in the upper body. Surgery typically produces a 40% rate of success, where the repair remains in tact after 10 years. That is on par with physical therapy to repair and rehabilitate the shoulder. However now, stem cell therapies are making that success rate of recovery sky rocket. 

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Let's break down the rotator cuff tear, and the procedure for stem cell patching. Essentially, as you can see from the picture, your rotator cuff and more specifically, the acromionclavicular joint, is the smallest muscle and tendon holding your arm to your body. This makes it a fragile joint. And with almost 360 degrees of combined range of motion, it's also one of the most used. 

When the muscle tears, the arm is hanging on by a thread. Typical treatment involves strengthening the stabilizers in and around the joint, including the thoracic spine, improving range of motion, and muscle retraining, so it doesn't happen again. This protocol of exercise happens regardless of whether or not you have surgery. 

If, based on your particular injury, you and your doctor decide that a surgery is the right fix, sutures affix the anchor hardware--most likely small screws fixed to your humerus--to the tendon holding your muscle in place on top of your shoulder. 

In rehab, the problem becomes a lack of blood supply to the tendon. Without a blood supply, tendons are hard to repair--hence the need for surgical intervention. The body needs a systemic method of repair and without a blood supply, it cannot patch problem areas.  

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Insert stem cells, and the 10 year success rate goes from 44% to 87%. Stem cells signal to the body to rebuild. Harvesting them from a the pelvis allows for more proliferator cells. Proliferator cells dramatically increase the success rate of rotator cuff surgical intervention. 

With stem cell surgical therapy, the timeline and protocol for physical therapy and overall rehabilitation dramatically decreases. Your body now has a signal from implanted stem cells to rebuild and "patch" the torn muscle. 

If you have any questions about a post-op stem cell therapy rehabilitation program, CoreFitChicago has designed an advanced protocol for rehabilitation that decreases the typical 8 month timeline to 3 months, with proven success. Contact us for more information regarding this exciting new advanced protocol. 

More Isn't Always Better

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In the last decade the common notion about health and exercise has always been, more exercise equals better health. But as we understand more and more how the body recuperates and utilizes energy and stress to regulate, we see that intense workouts can equal a lot of long term damage. 

Enter Peter Schnohr at the Copenhagen City Heart Study, a long-running survey of the habits and health of residents of the capital city. In a compelling 12 year ongoing study, researchers found something interesting: in terms of mortality, the strenuous joggers were no better off than the sedentary non joggers in the long run. The research suggests that strenuous workouts may prove to cause long term cardiovascular damage. 

The optimal frequency of jogging was 2 to 3 times per week, or 1-2.5hrs of jogging, tops. The study suggests that more is not better regarding running and mortality. More can be actually worse, if you run too hard, too frequently. Light and moderate joggers have lower mortality than sedentary nonjoggers, but strenuous exercisers almost doubled their mortality risk. 

5 Healthiest Life Hacks From A Professed Health Guru

You know me, I have conquered the beast that is health balance and I'm here to convince you it's easier than you think.... Here are my TOP 5 healthy life hacks that make me as svelte, athletic and strong everyday. 

1. Organize your health and connect with your body;

➡️Start a health journal. Write down everything that you feel physically. Maybe it starts with small things (your energy, diet, bowel movements, lungs, joint inflammation, sex life, etc.) but eventually as you continue to write, you'll identify more and more nuances that will help you better predict when you can stress your body out with a harder workout and when to hold off. This is crucial if you're trying to balance your hormones, lose or gain weight. You're body needs to be in optimal and prime condition to get the most out of your physical training. 

2. Challenge your heart every chance you get;

➡️Take the stairs, do 20 split squats and push ups in between tele-conferences, or do a 2 minute plank. If you do these four every day you'll burn between 150-300 cals extra per day. Nice add-on to your 30-60min daily workout routine. 

3. Hydrate with electrolyte water!

➡️85% of your blood cell volume is water. If your cells are shriveled up because they are starving for water, your organs, muscles and systems will suffer. Electrolytes provide the proper balance for cellular hydration equilibrium. That is, the ability to take in enough water to run your body nice and efficiently. 

4. Eat these five foods religiously:

➡️Kale, pecans, asparagus, salmon, yogurt.

Add these complementary supplements to support your systems:

➡️Tumeric, cinnamon, choline, vitamin D, tyrosine.

4. Engage your proprioception:

➡️From Latin Proprius, meaning "one's own", "individual" and perception, is the sense of the relative position of neighbouring parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement. Try these three exercises: 

1⃣ Stand, eyes closed, and transfer weight to one foot. Lift opposite leg off floor and try balancing for 5 seconds. Notice how your body processes your weight differently when your sense of sight and through sight balance, is taken away. How can your strengthen your muscles to support without your proprioceptive sense engaged? 

2⃣ While walking on path and in a safe place, try closing your eyes and taking 5 steps. Increase as you feel comfortable. Notice how your body feels and processes the ground differently as you take each step forward. You become much more aware of your musculature as your other senses are heightened by the lack of sight. 

3⃣ Stand on a level floor surface with one foot in front of the other, heel to toe. Arms are at sides or raised—whichever is easier. Stand still in this position for 30 seconds with your eyes open. Next, close your eyes and stand still in the same position for 30 seconds. How do your muscles and the position change when your remove your sense of sight? 

EXTRA CREDIT!!!

6. Meditate, meditate, meditate;

➡️Quieting that treadmill is seriously the hardest thing you do all day. Remove your thought process about what it should be--we get too caught up in nuances of what things "should" be, we end up giving up. This is YOUR moment, even if you're only giving yourself ten minutes to "not think" for yourself. This is nothing and everything at once. It can be as expansive or confined, depending on how you much you are willing to let go. Try this: 

1⃣ Take a deep breath and count to 3 on your inhale. Exhale for a count of 3.  

2⃣ On your next inhale, count to 4. Exhale slower to a count of four.  

3⃣ Continue on this tract until you reach 8. The more you breathe, the more oxygen gets absorbed and your body will respond by relaxing. Under stress we hold our breath or breathe short shallow breaths and our body thinks it is starving for oxygen. The more you take in, the more your mind relaxes your musculature because it knows it's getting what it needs to survive and then some.  

Thats it! Just those five everyday and you will be a new person and take your body to a whole new sense of healthy! Let me know what you think if you get a chance and enjoy living healthy and in balance. 

-Shayna

My 200lb Secret

November 2004. My body and mind were not working together towards a common goal...

November 2004. My body and mind were not working together towards a common goal...

January 2015, my body and mind have changed significantly. 

January 2015, my body and mind have changed significantly. 

I have a secret. Well, it's not so much a secret as a part of my past that few remember. New friends wouldn't recognize the old me. The me that was 200lbs, depressed and wearing a suit of protective armor that would keep anyone at bay. I think in life, and in goals, there is a lot of emphasis on what one can physically accomplish, but seldom do we talk about the mental aspects of setting and achieving those goals. And then maintaining that standard of health.

I bring this up because this was me approximately 10 years ago. Before I knew I could really help anyone get and stay healthy, because I wasn't there myself. It was a learning curve that I'm not embarrassed to share. It's an unflattering picture, to be sure. And few would openly post a picture publicly that might implicate them in even reasonable fallibility. But not me. What made me who I am today mentally and then physically is that woman back then. Her strength told me not to accept that status quo I had become so comfortable with. The extra padding that would ensure I wouldn't get extra attention from men, or admiration from other aspiring women. People wouldn't take me as seriously, they might laugh at me, they might not listen. But I could control that with my weight. And as I realized this, I became aware of the innate want to have a voice no matter what my size. And I stopped caring what I looked like to other people. I just focused on how my body felt every day.

I connected, even when it was painful. Even when I had to come to terms with the fact that I was eating to comfort myself. Or I was eating out of anger at my dad for pointing to my belly when I was 15 and shaming me. Or even when I realized I was feeling guilty for eating after a work out. I let go of those past expectations and thoughts and I grasped a new idea for the future. That my progress was all about me and it felt fucking good. And no one was going to take that away from me with glances or comments. They were just jealous I could absolve their thought process from MY thought process. I was going to enjoy this even when it was hard. 

And here I am today, 150lbs, 50lbs less, happy, lean and strong and flexible. The best mental and physical shape I've ever taken. I'm a shape shifter! Not depressed and hiding from connecting thought, to feeling, to action. And you know what? It turns out, the best risk I ever took, was on myself. My biggest fear back then has been my biggest accomplishment thus far. I'm the best that I can be every day now. I never worry about weight, size, food, calories, fat. I don't have to! Because I've got my back. And ya know what? I feel so good, I've got yours too! And that feels SPECTACULAR.  

Light As a Feather, Stiff As a Board

Light As a Feather, Stiff As a Board

The Spiral Meridian may very well be the most important fitness trends of 2015 and you’ve probably never heard of it. Ever watch parkour athletes jump down from a two- or three-story building, tumble and smoothly transition into a run? How do their joints not explode on impact from the fall? The SM is a line of fascia that helps prevent or minimize localized stress in a particular muscle, joint or bone, and it helps harness momentum created from the operating forces mainly through its viscoelastic properties. This protects the integrity of the body while minimizing the amount of fuel used during movement. As we age, flexibility and mobility can impede us in our lifestyle. Doing “insanity” or “P90X” training right now may seem great and you might love the results after “Crossfit” today, but what  lack of flexibility and mobility will mean for your body down the line without, may be a different story.

 

Cardiac Events and Exercise

I had a dream last night which was founded in reality. I dreamt the professionals at the gym were trying to put an IV in me at the gym. The dirty, disgusting gym. And this actually happened to a man on Monday.

The other day I was at a gym and a man on the elliptical went into cardiac arrhythmia. He was on a heart rate monitor and a cardiac event recording device and a nurse station that was "supervising" his exercise ran over and began to take his blood pressure and put an IV bag in him. He was 80 over 68, which is very bad in case you aren't familiar. The rate was fluctuating. It took the team about 15 minutes to get him an aspirin as I was holding him making sure he didn't pass out. Then it took them another 5 to plug in the defibrillator. Then finally after I asked repeatedly to call 911, they conceded and did. Because they had a doctor on staff, they didn't call 911 right away. That man probably had a minor episode which potentially could have been major. And the people who were supposed to be supervising his exercise didn't know the basic steps of CPR. (You always, always call 911 first!). 

This made me think about what quality of care we have come to expect from people who are supervising us during these moments of exertion. Are we trusting the right people to lead us in the right direction? When Nike says "just do it" are we taking it so literally that we push ourselves beyond our extremes. The body and our minds are capable of exertion. But healthy limitations and small steps toward big goals is much healthier than a "all in or nothing" mentality. Every "body" needs rest to recuperate to accomplish physical goals. That's the most underutilized piece of advice in the medical and fitness community today. Set your steps before you take a leap of faith. You can achieve your goals if you pick the right professionals when and if you have a real limitation. 

Thought--> Feeling--> Behavior

Thought: about who I am, who I want to be and how to accomplish that change. 

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Feeling: about the progress. Sometimes it doesn't happen right away, or change doesn't come easily and I get overwhelmed.

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Behavior: a reflection of my emotional output, can be sometimes negative. How can I manage my emotions about my thoughts to change these behaviors to positive, so I stay on track towards my goal?

The Space In Between

Ever have an argument over text message?

I learn a lot about myself, in the space in between messaging. I realize that I'm not only analytical of the message but also of the spaces and times in between the response to my message. 

And this space can teach me more about myself than the actual active part of the communication. And how this can be applied to a broader scope in my life. Like, when I'm working out and the space in between my cardio or my yoga or my strength can show me how to take care of myself better, where my weaknesses and strengths lie.

And some of my patients and clients and even myself have been hurt recently. Either by pure accident, by working too hard during the active moments of communication and work with our bodies or by not resting enough in between. 

So as you come upon these moments of space, where can you find growth and understanding in order to get stronger. What can you give yourself during this space that will allow for a better dialogue with your body?

The toughest race in the world...

 THE IMMORTAL HORIZON 

"THIRTY-FIVE RUNNERS FACE HOLLERS AND HELLS, A FLOODED PRISON, RATS THE SIZE OF POSSUMS, AND FLESH-FLAYING BRIARS TO TEST THE LIMITS OF SELF-SUFFICIENCY."

DISCUSSED: An Escaped Assassin, Raw Chicken Meat, Unimaginable Physical Exhaustion, A License Plate from Liberia, Duct-Tape Pants, Novels Hidden in Tree Trunks, Testosterone Spread Like Fertilizer, Rattlesnakes as Large as Arms, Arms That Baptize Cats, A Bunch of Guys in the Woods Talking about Something Called the Bad Thing

The Barkley Marathons, held every year in the rugged hill country of Tennessee, pit runners against their absolute mental and physical limits. The race is five 20-mile loops, almost entirely off-trail, with a total elevation gain that more than doubles the height of Mt. Everest. In three decades, only 14 people have ever finished.

 

Watch what you eat...

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It's not what you eat when you watch, it's what you watch when you eat. Researchers at Cornell University looked at the calories consumed during action flicks (in this case "The Island") vs an interview talk show ("Charlie Rose"). 

The results showed that the subjects who watched the action flick consumed an average of 354 calories and nearly twice as much in weight compared to the group that watched the talk show, who only consumed 215 calories. 

Study author Aner Tal, a postdoctoral research associate at Cornell’s Food and Brand Lab, said that stimulating, fast-paced programs with a lot of camera cuts drew viewers in and distracted them from what they were eating. “They can make you eat more because you’re paying less attention to how much you are putting in your mouth,” Tal said.

Successful Athletes Do This Differently

We coach athletes with the tools they use in the game. Here a receiver practices his balance on foam and can literally see how this is going to help him successfully catch the ball without losing control.

We coach athletes with the tools they use in the game. Here a receiver practices his balance on foam and can literally see how this is going to help him successfully catch the ball without losing control.

Visualizing yourself succeeding at something like crossing the finish line, might seem like a silly concept, but it's proven scientifically to help athletes successfully change their bodies and reach goals. For instance, in his study on everyday people, Guang Yue, an exercise psychologist from Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio, compared “people who went to the gym with people who carried out virtual workouts in their heads”. The gym-goers had a 30% muscle increase but astonishingly, the group of participants who conducted mental exercises of the weight training increased muscle strength by 13.5% just by visualizing. This average remained for 3 months following the mental training. That's why the mental aspect of athleticism is so important. It can make or break your groove. Actually, employed with fitness, it can make your body respond even better. And in life, seeing yourself healthy and happy can often bring about that change too.

And it's planted in us from an early age. How many times do you remember your parents saying, "you can be anything you want to be if you put your mind to it" or something as simple as "what do you want to be when you grow up?" These are guiding cues to help us see ourselves as something better in the future, and the best part about it is, if your parents did it right--by asking questions about how you want to change, rather than dictating your change by programming you--you probably learned very quickly that you are in control of how well you can succeed at anything.

Visualization is an important tool for rehab from an injury, taking your fitness to a new level, or trying something physically you've never done before. And it's probably the only training tool your not employing in your workouts, your health goals or your life. Here are some of my most successful visualization techniques I practice in my own workouts with clients and patients.

1. Communication

One of the easiest ways I practice visualization is by practicing communicating how you are physically feeling. You would be surprised how many people are not in tune with their body to the extent that they can't verbalize pain, tiredness, etc. They simply don't want to let their guard down, so they struggle in their workouts. One of the first questions I ask each and everyday to my patients and clients is, "how do you feel today?" Some people respond by telling me about their weekend, some respond by telling me they are tired, or sore... But it doesn't matter, because it gives me a clue about their starting attitude and how hard I can push and challenge them that day.

2. Removing the bad, inserting the good.

  • start on your mat, close your eyes, do a body scan
  • notice where you are holding tension
  • take a deep breath in and hold it for a second at the top
  • on your exhale, visualize your muscles melting down into the floor, and sigh as you exhale.
  • set your new intention for your body-- focus on my back muscles today, let go of stress, increase thoracic spine mobility, lift 100lbs, etc.
  • whatever it is you want to succeed in today physically, mentally tell yourself this is why you are here right now. This is the hour to work hard and accomplish that goal.
  • open your eyes, stand up and begin your workout.

3. Do the hard work.

As simple as this sounds, do all the exercises you don't really feel like doing and visualize yourself doing it for longer than you'd ever reasonably have to do it. If the hardest exercise for you to do is the plank, pretend like you have to do it for 3 years and see yourself smiling! Then actually try the exercise. When the 2 minutes is up, you'll know you can do it, and you'll move on to a new goal the next day.

In the end, it's the small stuff we'd never do, or can't see ourselves doing that stops us from moving forward in many ways. Tricking yourself into building a new and different foundation or pathway for success, often gets us where we want to go.

 

We limped out...sweaty and satisfied

Last night my partners in crime, Jen, Dan and Tracy, ventured out to support our friend Terri in ending her teacher training at CorePower. Each of us is different; we carry our weight in different places, we are more and less flexible, we struggle with perfection, or not connecting to our bodies. But the four of us were all there sharing that. We all shared that perfect sweaty imperfection. We were there in support of helping ourselves and the people next to us move a little more slowly, breathe a little more deeply and connect with themselves and each other on a physical level. That's why group mentality is great. It can bring you to new highs in life, physically and mentally. When we all take a sigh of relief, when we all work hard together and take a collective deep breath, we all change just a little more than we would when we're apart. And this takes definite effort. Isolation is easy and confining. Collective work is hard but freeing!

And beginnings and endings are funny. As human beings we like circles, we like the idea of connectivity, flowing from one thing to another. Arriving together, motivating each other, working hard together and finishing strong together. Positive physical connection is an important factor in being a successful human being. 

So after our 60 minutes of mind boggling heat we limped out sweaty and satisfied. We headed over to forever yogurt for a post workout celebration of human force. It wasn't about what was perfect or imperfect then, how many calories, etc., it was about celebrating each other. I think if we focus on our successes in working hard together more, we'd focus less on definitions and rules and the disconnect that keeps us feeling different. 

I loved last night. And not because I got to work hard--I get to do that daily on my own and with my athletes--but because I was with my partners in crime. The ones who love my sweaty imperfection and all.