Hips Don’t Lie

I like to play this game sometimes where while I’m at work (the gym) I watch the way people move. Ever since I took my biomechanics class in my undergrad I like to attempt to identify what types of injuries people may have or where imbalances in their body are. I can usually tell by their stride length or the direction their toes pull when they walk whether or not they have chronic hip tightness. Whenever I’m training a client I can always tell by the way they perform their exercises as well. It’s amazing to me how many people suffer from tight hips.

It makes sense, though. Sedentary lifestyles are the norm these days and sitting for hours every single day with your hips in a hinged position can certainly equal tightness! I’ve gotten into the habit of printing out stretching ideas and sending my clients links for “yoga at the desk” videos and stuff.

Whenever I find a good resource I like to 1) share it because if I love it I’m sure there are other people who would love it! Plus, the authors deserve the credit! and 2) I like to save it in a place where I can easily find it again or refer people to it later :).

So I figured I would go ahead and list a couple of links that I have found useful lately! Please please feel free to share any other links if you have a resource for stretching or hip mobility that would be helpful!

9 Stretches to Help Relieve Hip and Lower Back Pain

(I am not a beach body coach – but I loved this article and have printed it for several clients! Pictures are so helpful!)

Yoga With Adriene: Yoga at your Desk

I seriously am obsessed with Yoga with Adriene. She’s amazing, funny, patient, and great at describing exactly what you need to do. Her laid back mentality really helps me enjoy how yoga makes me feel instead of worrying so much about perfect poses. I’ll be writing a post soon about how yoga has changed my life :)

After having some of my clients work on hip stretching and mobility work, their squat depth and strength has gotten better, their running mobility is cleaner and they have less instances of groin “pulls.” Personally – I have a new found appreciation for my muscles now that I’ve learned how to properly take care of them – not just the hips, of course.

So try it out! See how you feel! And please share if you have any other interesting articles I can read! :)

xo Jacquelyn

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3 Things to add to your Kitchen to Help you Build a Healthier Lifestyle

kitchen2

Good morning, everyone!

The other morning when I was getting my meals ready for the day I couldn’t help but appreciate all of the little tools I have in my kitchen to help me succeed with my nutrition on a daily basis. Simple things that might seem so mundane actually make living a consistently healthy lifestyle so much easier.

I am a huge believer in the saying that if you fail to prepare, then you’re preparing to fail.

I know myself pretty well, and I know that I don’t make good eating decisions when I don’t have something healthy already prepared. So instead of setting myself up for failure, I make sure to bring a lunchbox with me to work every single day! It’s really exciting to start seeing that this isn’t such a rare thing in the professional world anymore. I see a lot of my co-workers and fellow classmates bring their own food with them, too. Not only is it cost effective, but it’s helping us live healthier lives and look our best. Win, win, right?

So what are the 3 main things I recommend to keep handy in your kitchen?

1) Food Scale: This thing is a life saver. It took me a while before I started to regularly weigh my food but once I started weighing I started to see that my idea of a serving size wasn’t necessarily accurate (aka: I was eating a teensy bit too much, whoops). I think this problem is pretty common and it’s something that I talk with my clients about a lot. On the nutrition label, it may say that you can eat 1/2 a cup of ice cream…but is that loosely packed? Tightly packed? Let’s be honest, if I’m measuring 1/2 a cup of ice cream I’m going to mash as much ice cream in that 1/2 cup as I can and I’ll still be thinking “it’s just 1/2 a cup! Just one serving!” And then I’d wonder later why I wasn’t reaching my goals….hmm. Well, beside the measurement for a serving size, there’s always a weight for a serving size too. So maybe 1/2 a cup is about 26g. So instead of guessing with a cup, I can weigh out exactly the amount that I’m supposed to eat. This goes across the board for all foods and has really helped me with my portions! Using a scale has also helped me increase the amount of protein I eat per day, which used to be a problem for me. Now I make sure that each meal has at least 2.5-3oz and I meet my daily requirements. Food scales are super cheap and you can find them in stores like Wal-Mart, Target, etc.

2) Seasonings: Okay, Okay. So you probably already have seasonings in your kitchen. So why does this make my list? Well, when it comes to eating healthy, its important to make sure that your food is flavorful and enjoyable….but that you aren’t flavoring your food with sugary, chemical & calorie-filled sauces. I keep a wide variety of seasonings in my cabinet and I switch it up every single day. I have my few favorites that I like to use (hey, flavorgod seasonings <3) and then I have some others that I use on specific meals. By using herbs and spices, I am getting the added nutritional benefit of those micro nutrients as well as the added benefit of a wide variety of flavors. I think its safer to have too many seasonings/spices than to have too little. Just my opinion, though.

3) Tupperware (or other storage items)- Me and Tupperware have become B.F.F.s ever since I started doing my weekly meal preps a couple of years ago. I quickly learned that its important to have a wide variety of shapes and sizes for different items. Although I will admit that storing the dang things can be tedious, the pros far outweigh the cons here. If you’re going to pack your meals for your entire day, you need to be able to fit as much as possible into that lunchbox of yours (unless you’re using a cooler or something of the sort. In which case, I ask you to please let me know if your boss is hiring because I’d love to bring a cooler of food to work with me, too, haha). I also know that if I have easy storage options, I’m more likely to pack my meals efficiently which means happier and less hungry Jacquelyn at lunch time which also means happy clients and co-workers. Catch my drift? This is one of those preparation things that I think is so so important. Sandwich bags come in at a very, very, close second.

Are there any other “must haves” that you feel like you need in order to keep your healthy lifestyle? I’d love to hear them!

xo Jacquelyn

Technology + Health. A prevantative approach.

Hi, guys! I hope the new year is treating you right, so far!

I wanted to talk about something that is becoming increasingly popular in the fitness world that I think deserves the spotlight for a moment. All of these new fitness gadgets and apps. Are they beneficial? Are they accurate? Why should or shouldn’t you use them?

In my opinion, technology can only enhance our experience in the realm of health and fitness. I think that being aware of certain aspects of health is the very first step toward reaching that healthy lifestyle. I always talk to my clients about the importance of sleep, of taking the stairs instead of the elevator, of knowing your typical heart rate. But honestly how can we really know how effective we’re being if we can’t track it? That’s where technology has come into play.

Personally, I like to use a standard Heart Rate Monitor. My HRM doesn’t track anything other than my heart rate and calories burned, but it helps me keepĀ  my workouts consistent and intense. I will definitely tell you that when I didn’t workout with a heart rate monitor I thought I was working way harder than I actually was. This was a pretty big wake up call for me when I started seeing how much harder I could truly push myself. Naturally, I’ve gotten significantly better results since monitoring my workouts and becoming more aware of my aerobic capacity. It keeps me honest and it keeps me motivated to push myself daily. Awareness is the first step to a healthy lifestyle.

Another little piece of technology I use on a daily basis? A diet tracker app on my phone. Every day I find myself entering my meals in order to make sure I’m keeping a balanced diet and staying within a healthy caloric range. It’s hard to guess how many calories a certain meal contains and sometimes I find myself eating more than I realize! Diet tracking is so simple and useful and has taught me to make better decisions diet-wise. Just the other day I was getting really groggy at work and couldn’t figure out why. When I checked my diet app I realized I had barely eaten any complex carbs. I added some rice to my next meal and was focused and energized again for the rest of my work day. If I wasn’t aware that my problem was diet related I may have resorted to a sugar filled energy drink. Or a craving for something sweet. Being aware is the first step to a healthy lifestyle.

But what about on a bigger scale? Aside from us workout gurus, how can technology help us? Something I’m extremely passionate about is the idea of preventative health. If we can develop a healthy lifestyle where the human machine is functioning optimally on all aspects (sleep, exercise, diet, etc) – then maybe we won’t get sick as much? Maybe we won’t need to see the doctor as much? Maybe we can PREVENT some of the widespread disease caused by a poor lifestyle? As this idea becomes more popular, insurance companies are jumping on board to help people get started. I have recently been in contact with Oscar Health Insurance ( they operate out of New York and New Jersey: check them out here) and they have started helping out their clients by giving them MisFit fitness bands. I think this is huge for preventative health and I’m so excited about what this could mean for the general population.

I recently had a client come to me with extreme frustration. She was working out and dieting well yet she couldn’t get her weight to budge. I asked her about her lifestyle in general and I was shocked at how much she could squeeze into one day with her kids, her jobs, and her workouts on top of that. Naturally, she was missing out on her sleep and I pointed out that sleep is a critical factor in fat loss as well as overall health. Sleep is important for allowing the body to produce growth hormone, reduce stress, and heal! She had gotten a MisFit fitness tracker for Christmas and was starting to use it to track her daily steps and her sleep. She came to me a week later and showed me the results of her sleep tracking: she was only getting about 2 hours of restful REM sleep per night. Yikes. Now she is working on getting to bed earlier and making sleep a priority. In this case, technology allowed her to become AWARE of her poor sleep quality which could prevent a number of health issues down the line. It’s one thing to hear it from a personal trainer, it’s another thing to actually see it. Awareness is the first step in a health lifestyle.

I think it goes without saying that I am absolutely on board when it comes to mixing technology with fitness. As the general population starts to become more aware of their health, I think its important that we all have access to critical health components more often than just a yearly check up. I also think that technology is the bridge between being in the dark about our health to knowing more and being in control. We are making decisions on a daily basis about our health – its pretty important that we know how those decisions impact us, right?

What type of technology do you use for your lifestyle? How has it helped you so far?

xo Jacquelyn

The Importance of Eccentric Training

You may have heard the term “eccentric” tossed around the gym before or maybe you read it on bodybuilding.com. There are a lot of training styles out there that I would classify as “gym science” that don’t really have any proof of effectiveness. Eccentric training, however, is not one of them!

But what is it?

Eccentric training is defined as active contraction of a muscle occurring simultaneously with lengthening of the muscle.

That’s straight from google.

To put it more simply, the eccentric part of your workout is during the lowering phase of any exercise. When you’re lowering into a squat you’re eccentric, when you’re bringing your arms down after a bicep curl, when the bar is descending toward your chest during a bench press. All of those are eccentric.

A lot of times we don’t think about that portion of the lift because we’re so concerned with getting the weight UP! That’s the hard part, right?

Well what if I told you that you’d have an easier time getting that weight up if you started incorporating eccentric training?

When the muscle is lengthened during any exercise, you’re experiencing muscle fiber tearing. That’s what causes the soreness the next couple of days! BUT there’s an enzyme within the muscle fibers that, when released, will promote protein synthesis (aka: muscle growth). That enzyme is only released when the muscle is eccentrically loaded to its full potential.

In other words, going half way down in a squat is ineffective. Not coming down to your chest during a bench press is ineffective. Not coming all the way down in a military shoulder press is ineffective. The list goes on.

I encourage all of my clients and anyone who asks me to never sacrifice form of an exercise in order to go heavier. Because if you look at the anatomy of a lift, you really aren’t getting any bang for your buck. If you pick a challenging weight that you can do FULL RANGE OF MOTION on a lift with, you’re going to release that enzyme and experience muscle growth and strength increase; allowing you to move up in weight over time.

Hamstrings are a muscle group that I tend to focus on a lot. I only work with women – and it is true that women typically have a poor quad:hamstring ratio of strength which makes it easier for us to pull our hamstrings. It has been scientifically proven that eccentric training will help prevent hamstring injuries – the NSCA actually just recently released a study that I had to use for my CEUs because this topic is so relevant.

So HOW do you work on your eccentric training?

1) Pick a challenging weight but one that you can still do flawless form with

2) Start the downward phase of your lift (ex: squat)

3) As you go down, slowly count to 5. You shouldn’t reach the bottom until you get to 5.

4) Come back up and repeat.

The idea here is that YOU are controlling every inch of that downward phase instead of gravity or momentum. Because lets be honest – how often do we get tired and sort of “fall” into the bottom of the lift so we can focus more on getting it back up?

When doing eccentric training you are going to see your muscles shake. You are going to be extremely sore. You are going to be altering your muscle fibers in ways that you might not have done before. It’s all okay, its all normal, and its all going to make you stronger!

Not totally sure if you’re doing it right? I always recommend calling a trainer over to spot you and watch to make sure that everything is safe and sound.

xo Jacquelyn

Active Rests: Workout Challenge

Happy Thursday, everyone!!

Today I wanted to challenge you guys to add one of my workout staples into your routine. If your goals include: weight loss, endurance training and toning – then this is for YOU!

Typically, when doing a strength training program you want to designate certain rest periods after each exercise in order to get the maximum benefit for your muscles.

However, for fat loss, its super important to keep that heart rate up. I see a lot of people sitting around the gym wondering why they aren’t leaning up!

You can ask any of my clients – we don’t sit around. We are constantly moving! I love incorporating “active rests” in between basic resistance training moves. For example I’ll do 3 sets of 10 chest presses with 3 sets of 20 jumping jacks in between.

If I’m doing upper body exercises I like to incorporate more upper-body-focused active rests…and likewise for lower body. Some of these can be used for either muscle group!

Upper Body Active Rests:

Jumping Jacks

Pushups

Mountain Climbers

Ball Slams

Jump Rope

Plank

Side Plank

Plank to Pushup

Walkover Pushups

Burpees

Lower Body Active Rests:

Body Weight Squats

Alternating Lunges

Reverse Lunges

Curtsy Lunges

Jump Squats

Criss Cross Jump Squats

Tuck Jumps

Bound Lunges

Rocking Side Lunges

Burpees

You can even do lower body active rests in between upper body exercises if you want to give the upper body muscles more of a rest! It really doesn’t matter how you do it – the key is to just KEEP MOVING! Instead of pacing around or sitting for an undetermined amount of time between sets, get up and knock out 15-20 of one of the above exercises then go right back into your next set. I guarantee you’ll feel it – and I guarantee you’ll sweat ;)

I’m going to start posting exercise videos soon! If anyone leaves a comment asking about any of the above exercises that you’re unsure of: I’ll start with a video of it for you!!

xo Jacquelyn