3 Benefits of Foam Rolling

First and foremost, foam rolling can be done correctly AND incorrectly. I want to make sure that everyone understands that aggressively rolling over your tight muscles is NOT good for them and can actually lead to bruising the tissue. Don't do that! Using foam roller is a form of self-myofascial release, or self-massage, this technique helps get rid of adhesions in your muscles and connective tissue. By adding this to your fitness regime you will increases blood flow to your muscles and create better mobility. What does that do? It helps with recovery and improves performance. 

 

1. RECOVER FASTER AND PREVENT INJURY

Via: http://www.muscleandfitness.com/

If you are still of a mind that foam rollers are for everyone else, then you are missing out on one of the most effective tools at your disposal for physique-building, recovery and injury prevention. Rollers are the most popular mechanism for self-myofascial release, or SMR, and are gaining popularity among elite athletes of all walks because of the drastic and usually immediate impact it has on their performance and overall health. Here are some of the most frequently discussed aspects of SMR as it pertains to dedicated lifters.

 

2. INCREASE FLEXIBILITY

Via: http://www.muscleandfitness.com/

Photo via Men's Fitness

Photo via Men's Fitness

So you can bench press a car and deadlift a truck, but can you bend down and touch your toes or hug your knees to your chest? With so much mixed information about stretching, static v. dynamic, pre-workout v. post-workout, it’s tough to know the best way to relieve muscle tension. But there’s a simple technique that will keep your muscles sliding and gliding with ease. Taking proper care of underlying fascia is your new secret weapon to improving mobility, flexibility, and range of motion.

 

3. RELEASE SCAR TISSUE

Via: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/

When you foam roll, you put targeted pressure on your fascia, releasing trigger points where you’re feeling pain. The process relieves pain caused by shin splints and IT band syndrome, both of which are very common in runners, and more generally, usually clears up problems caused by tight fascia and muscles.

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And then there was Mary...

September's rockstar of the month is Mary! She just finished a very committed 12-week program. 

I LOVED working with Mary, and everyone else loved training beside her. I want to congratulate her on completing 12 weeks!

When she first came to me I asked:

1. What are your health and fitness goals over the next 90 days?

Answer: To be a bad ass! Beyond that, I just want some sort of path to follow to become stronger and to feel like I'm making healthier choices.

Did we do that? I absolutely know so.

2. What have you tried before that has worked and not worked?

Answer: Math worked...keeping track of the calories until I didn't. Pop Pilates worked. Felt so much stronger and saw some results over 5 months. But what didn't work out....me. My patterns change with the seasons. And I didn't stay motivated.

Did she stay motivated? OMG yes! She could have just called it quits when the chiropractor threw down some major restrictions because of some previous injuries. And she didn't. She asked for more!! So we modified and she kept moving, sweating and swearing. 

3. Honestly, why do you think you haven't hit your goals yet?

Answer: Lack of motivation. Hence not a 10 on the next question. I don't really know where to start. I've never felt comfortable taking a exercise class and I'm not so gym savvy.

And every class I find interesting doesn't fit my work/life schedule. I work 2nd shift and early morning classes are of no interest.
And now? She stayed motivated throughout the whole program, and inspired others in doing so. 

Mary.JPG

From a numbers standpoint EVERYTHING improved. She increased her upper-body strength by 25%, which personally I think is being conservative. LITERALLY a 70% increase in core strength. 70%... no joke. And get this... a 99% increase in leg strength. How did this translate in her body measurements? 7lbs lost, 3% body fat and 11" from 7 areas that we measured. 

Even with restrictions from her chiropractor she still managed to get stronger and make huge improvements physically AND mentally.

After the age of 30 it gets harder and harder to make physical changes. Then when we hit 40 it's like a brick wall. Most people, especially women really take a turn for the worse and give up. What used to be difficult now feels impossible and we feel like our bodies are betraying us. So what do all of Mary's measurements tell me? They tell me that she can actually make giant shifts when she stays focused and is held accountable. I've said it before and I'll keep saying it, it's CRITICAL for you to maintain all of the muscle you can. Muscle wasting happens when you don't exercise with weights or resistance of some kind. I think of Mary as an athlete, and when you can think of yourself that way you'll have more success in the gym and a real sense of ownership when it comes to what you're capable of. 

Mary R 2.jpg

Oh and...

Mary loves dogs. A lot.


Coconutgate 2017

Have you seen the latest news? Coconut oil is bad for you. Wait. What? Are you confused? Imagine the look on my face when I heard this first from a client and then I saw it on the news. My client was terrified. Had everything I told her been a lie?! Dispelling myths a giant part of my job, but dispelling myths that come from the FDA, well, that's a little more challenging. I immediately shared this JP Sears video that put into words exactly what I was feeling, quite brilliantly I might ad. 

THEN, the brilliant Melissa Hartwig took it a step further. I aspire to be a awesome as people like this. 

The following is repost of a great email I received as a part of being a member of the Whole30 Community. 

The entire internet is freaking out over the recent USA Today article with (yet another) sensationalist, attention-grabbing headline: Coconut Oil Isn’t Healthy. It’s Never Been Healthy.And now you’re wondering, is that tablespoon of MCT oil in my coffee or the coconut oil I’m using to scramble my pastured, organic eggs ACTUALLY BAD FOR ME?

Calm down. Let’s take this article section by section.

First, consider the source—the American Heart Association. The same people who are STILL saying, (and I quote the lead author of the study), “There’s nothing wrong with deep frying, as long as you deep fry in… vegetable oil.”

Yeah, he said that. I couldn’t believe it either.

This is the same organization who certified Count Chocula cereal as “heart healthy,” still pushes margarine over real butter, and says all saturated fat will kill you dead, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Overwhelming.

Second, this report isn’t saying anything new. They just “reviewed existing data” on saturated fat and restated the American Heart Association’s position that saturated fat will give you heart disease. And coconut oil is really high in saturated fat. That makes coconut oil bad, hashtag logic.

The lead author, again: “…No idea why people think coconut oil is healthy. It's almost 100% fat.” That’s exactly what he said. Not “It’s really high in saturated fat…” He’s dissing it because it’s fat.

This is who we’ve been taking dietary advice from. ANYWAY.

This analysis was based on observations that saturated fat can increase LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol), which continues to lead them to the conclusion: "Because coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, a cause of CVD [cardiovascular disease], and has no known offsetting favorable effects, we advise against the use of coconut oil.”

I’m not sure where to start with this.

As we explain in detail (starting on page 147) in It Starts With Food*, an increase in calculated LDL cholesterol doesn’t actually tell you much about your risk for heart disease. Context matters, and total cholesterol doesn’t give you the whole picture. Two people with the same cholesterol numbers can have very different risk factors, based on their levels of systemic inflammation, dietary habits, and lifestyle.

*You’re going to want to re-read two sections of my first book: the cholesterol discussion referenced here, and the section on saturated fat starting on page 167. This will give you a solid baseline on this topic.

Think of it like the scale. Say you overhear someone say they gained five pounds recently. Should you assume this is a bad thing, and that weight gain has made her less healthy? If you were the American Heart Association, you would… but what if she’s pregnant? What if she was underweight to begin with? What if she’s weight training and it’s five pounds of muscle? Without context, you can’t jump to any conclusions… and it’s the same with an increase in calculated LDL.

Context. Matters.

How healthy is your gut? How calm and balanced is your immune system? What does your HDL look like? What is your LDL particle size? What is your triglyceride number? In fact, the current science says the best predictor of heart disease isn’t your calculated LDL “bad cholesterol” number… it’s your  triglyceride to HDL-C ratio.

The takeaway: if eating lots of coconut oil raises your LDL, that isn’t automatically a bad thing.

Even if you didn’t believe this—even if you still thought an increase in calculated LDL was problematic all by itself—there’s this: definitively, it’s been shown that dietary intake of saturated fat is not associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Oh, and this study came out in 2010, and it’s a meta-study (like the mother of all studies), encompassing a review of nearly 350,000 subjects.

I’ll let that sink in. Dietary intake of saturated fat is not associated with heart disease or heart attacks. And we’ve known this since at least 2010.

So why is the American Heart Association still telling us to replace healthy forms of saturated fat (like unrefined coconut oil or pastured, organic butter) with highly processed, PUFA-rich, pro-inflammatory vegetable oils?

Fact is, they continue to churn out this same bad conclusion based on the same bad, tired data from the 1960’s. (P.S. And then in this article, they go on to confuse things by talking about weight loss and the percentage of medium-chain triglycerides in coconut oil. Um, what? Saying, “Coconut oil isn’t as effective as 100% MCT oil for weight loss” might be true… but that’s NOT WHAT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT… and that has nothing to do with their claims that saturated fat is universally bad.)

The Summary

Here’s my take: if you like it, continue eating coconut oil as part of your diverse, well-rounded, healthy Whole30 or food freedom diet. Don’t mainline it. Don’t make it your only form of added fat. Include a variety of fats, like stuff we all agree is heart-healthy (like extra-virgin olive oil, olives, avocados, and avocado oil).

But don’t be afraid of including healthy forms of saturated fat from butter or coconut oil as part of your anti-inflammatory diet and healthy lifestyle. Do we really have to keep repeating ourselves here?

If you want an authority on the subject (read: someone with letters after their name), I’ll finally point you to Dr. William Davis’ (Wheat Bellytake on the subject. If you want to read an opinion from another leading authority, here’s what Gary Taubes (Good Calories, Bad Calorieshas to say. Several functional medicine doctors also weigh in on this mindbodygreen piece. Here's the perspective of registered dietitian and nutritional therapy practitioner Diana Rodgers. And if you want another layman’s opinion (spoiler: they also agree with me!), here’s what Gizmodo wrote.

Thank you for placing your trust in me, and in the Whole30 program. I’ll always do my best to stay openly communicative, up-to-date on the research, and willing to critically review our recommendations to make sure they truly are in your best interest.

Best in health,
Melissa

Connect with Melissa on InstagramTwitter and Facebook, and watch her Instagram Stories, where she sometimes gets ranty.


Do APPS like MYFITNESSPAL work?

Everyone wants a quick fix, and easy way to lose weight and most of all they want to it with the least amount of effort. Sorry folks. The magic pill is to get lots of rest, exercise and eat a nutritious diet of whole foods. MYFITNESSPAL is a great tool to help you stay on track but like any health and wellness app, it doesn't DO the work for you. 

Benefits:

  1. Just about any food can be found! And if you can't find what you're looking for, you can create the food and insert the nutritional information on your own.
  2. Share your tracking with friends (or your personal trainer). This helps people with accountability of not just making healthy choices.
  3. You can track your workouts! (But don't forget to read Downside #3)
  4. Allows you to evaluation patterns in your eating and possibly help you to identify foods that you're sensitive to.

Downsides:

  1. There is no way to track the foods that you DON'T enter. For instance, you've posted all of your hard work and wonderful healthy days, but fail to enter the night of binge drinking, pizza and potstickers. 
  2. By tracking your fitness the app will give you MORE calories during the day and prevent weight-loss.
  3. The breakdown of macro-nutrients, specifically CARBOHYDRATES doesn't tell you much unless you are mindful about where those sugars are coming from. 60 grams of a snickers is not the same as 60 grams of spinach... you see what I mean? 

There are are more benefits and downsides to an app like MYFITNESSPAL, but understanding how the tool works and knowing that you still have to do the work is critical. 


Success Story - Learn to Run

"Two and a half years ago, I struggled to run a solid minute even though I was a healthy weight and BMI. Through the Medtronic running program with you (Jenny) as the instructor, I was able to improve to running well over 30 minutes without being tired by the end of the program. I kept what I learned from that course for another 2.5 years  (completing 5ks, 10K, 10 mile, half marathon) where I successfully completed my first marathon in under 6 hours this past Sunday." 

Your running program and teaching style was amazing and highly effective." - Alex

Success Story - Cutting for Competition

A little over 2 years ago I had with Jenny to set up a meal plan for me to cut about 10 pounds over the course of 5 weeks. I had just signed up for a big Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament in Chicago and wanted to compete at a lower weight bracket to give me an advantage. The plan she gave me was well thought out and very healthy- focusing on basic nutritional concepts and ideas. I followed it fairly strictly with a little cheating here and there and was able to cut the weight relatively quickly and maintain it for the following weeks. I did pretty well in the tournament, taking second place out of 7 guys- winning 2 matches and losing by points in the final. After the tournament I decided to loosely follow the basic structure of the diet to maintain a little lower walking weight, making it easier to cut in the future. What I didn't realize was all the benefits from following Jenny’s nutritional lead… My strength went up about 30% and my muscle mass definitely increased, even with a drop in weight. I have always had a high cholesterol level, even when I ran marathons and even that dropped to normal levels. I would not be exaggerating when I say that following Jenny’s advice changed my life for the better, it decreased my chance of a heart attack from 50% to 2% and increased my physical stature and outlook. I would definitely recommend her to anyone looking to move forward in a positive direction. 

N Skrade
Minneapolis, Mn