Exercising when sick...when is it safe and when is it not?

First let’s review how exercise affects the body when it comes to our immune system:

--Brief vigorous exercise (any kind)  5-10min = Doesn’t cause immune suppressing effects in conditioned individuals 
--Moderate Intensity exercise (walking, yoga,very light weights high reps) - less than 60min = can actually boost your immunity. This is often the best place to be if you want to exercise with safe symptoms. 
--Vigorous prolonged exercise - more than 60min = can depress the immune system for up to 6 hours (average is 2 hours)

Second let’s look at general illness symptoms:

*Safe to Exercise Symptoms: Sore throat, congestion, runny nose
**Semi Safe to Exercise Symptoms: Coughing **This is one where you really need to know yourself. If you have asthma or are prone to lung illness please take that under consideration when exercising with a cough
***Not Safe to Exercise Symptoms: Fever, aches, chills, joint pain, vomiting, headache, diarrhea, and any prior safe to exercise symptoms that are becoming worse and not getting better with time

Knowing what exercise can do to your immune system + general illness symptoms can give you a great formula to keep your workouts on your schedule while you recover:

For instance if you have a sore throat and a runny nose and you want to work out..OK.. Keep it at that moderate Intensity exercise and no more than 60min, it will not cause harm and can actually help your immune system fight off the virus. BUT if you decide to do a more vigorous prolonged exercise understand that this can cause your immune system to depress and you could actually become more sick because of the exercise and make your recovery even longer

Always let your symptoms be your guide but never your excuse!

Pain vs Being Uncomfortable

“No pain, no gain.” Pain is temporary”, “Pain is weakness leaving the body” We have all heard these but are they true?  What if the pain is helping to prevent injury? Knowing the difference between pain and being uncomfortable can also be the difference between an injury that side tracks you for weeks/months and finally making gains in your fitness that you have always wanted.

Let’s start to break this down: Pain is a basic bodily sensation induced by a noxious stimulus, received by naked nerve endings, characterized by very specific physical discomfort (such as pricking, throbbing, or aching).It’s often very centralized and specific in location, you can point to it with one finger.  It is your body’s way of saying “STOP! Something is wrong...this is not good”. Often if we ignore this signal and continue to keep going injury will occur.

Now let’s talk about being uncomfortable: it’s something you can’t pin-point location wise, it is a general feeling, it’s not sharp but dull.  Being uncomfortable is not a bad thing mentally or physically.  Being comfortable being uncomfortable will take you where you want to go with both your health and fitness goals, to another level! 

Next time you are pushing yourself in a workout if you feel pain (centralized, specific location, immediate, sharp) listen to that shit! Your body is telling you, “Something is wrong, I’m about to break...hold off” but if you feel uncomfortable (you can’t centralize the feeling or specific location, dull, slow onset) push through that shit. That uncomfortable feeling is temporary, that is what you need to push through to get stronger, get to the next level!


Let me walk you through what happens when we are stressed: Think back to caveman days!

Our body is wired to deal with any and all stress in a physical way- The Fight or Flight response.  We were designed to deal with famine, storms, wild animals…...survival

Our heart rate increases so we can fight, our blood pressure increases so we can run fast, cortisol is released to heal any injuries that might happen during the fight, our thoughts turn to worst case scenarios so we are ready for anything, etc... our body prepares to run or fight.  And if we do have to run or fight, if our stress is truly physical stress, our body returns to normal after the exertion is done.  It is like this beautiful little circle of stress--activity--homeostasis….all is well again!

The issue in today’s world is our body has not evolved like our lives have evolved. Our stress is rarely physical in nature and almost always mental but our bodies continue to deal with it in a physical way (hormones released, blood pressure goes up,negative thought patterns, etc..) and when you don't have activity/exercise to immediately offset that response those hormones just hang in the body for an extended period of time and research shows we can even adapt to stress levels which is not a good thing. We have all seen and heard the research of what prolonged periods of stress can do to us...it is a silent killer.

So what can be done about this?? Try to offset stress in more physical ways if you can...get up and walk 5 mins, take some deep breaths to bring down your heart rate and blood pressure.  The best drug for stress is exercise! Often when we are stressed exercise is the first thing to be forgotten when really we need it the most during those difficult times. It naturally returns our body back to normal and releases hormones that counteract those fight or flight hormones.

You can’t always control what happens to you and what others do but you can control your reaction to it! Be mindful of your stress levels and keep those workouts routine and regular in your life!

Self education and using knowledge: Be curious, but skeptical.

I'm a huge believer in self education and using knowledge as power for self growth but how do you trust what you see in social media when it comes to health and wellness studies? How do you become a scientific thinker? Here are some tips I threw together to help you sort everything out! 

1. Did the study appear in a peer-reviewed journal? AKA did other experts review the study and findings independently?  If not, be mindful and careful with it. 

2. Who was studied, where was the study?  Animal studies are often used but not always transferable to human findings and look further if this study was only done on men, finding might not be the same for women. 

3. How big was the study? Typically more participants more valid results. If a study only had 10 participants take it with a grain of salt

4. Did the study take into account key differences? Diversity, gender, genetics, age, etc..

5. Was there a control group? For instance were some in the sample randomly assigned a specific diet while others weren’t?

6. Did the study results look at the relationships? Correlation is not causation!

7. Is a journalist or scientist OVERSTATING results?  Watch for generalizations! Grand language!  If there is language like “PROVES” that is a big red flag.  Good studies just suggest they don’t prove. 

8. Who funded the study? For instance: A recent study found that you could drink lots of sugary beverages without fear of getting fat, as long as you exercised. The study was funded by………….Coca Cola, which eagerly promoted the results, SHOCKER. This doesn’t mean the results are wrong. But once again take this into consideration

9. Is there a hidden agenda? Experiments on the value of a supplement that is trying to get into the billion dollar wellness market should be taken into account, this is also where who funded the study needs to be looked at again

10. Do the researchers of the study acknowledge flaws, limitations and offer alternative explanations? Does the study look at both sides? Is it open to alternative explanations? Does it provide its own skepticism? 

BEST RULE OF THUMB: Be curious, but skeptical.

"A negative mind will never give you a positive outcome"

Sports Psychology time! Do you fight back on internal thoughts or roll with them? What is the difference?  It might sound miniscule but how it feels internally can make a big difference and can even affect your performance. 

Think back to a time you were challenged in a debate personally by another person? What worked best? To counteract, attack and fight back on that debate or to roll with their resistance, listen and let them know they were heard while applying logic and positivity back? 

Think conflict resolution….often when our mind has an intense thought, “This really hurts I want to stop” our first thought is to fight back, “This doesn’t hurt, don’t stop” but what if it really does hurt? How is immediately fighting back really listening to ourselves and accepting what is happening to our bodies at that moment?  Does fighting back make the thought stop or does it increase the intensity of the fight and the energy it takes to fight back. Does it almost become an internal battle in your head that wastes energy and causes negativity (the very thing we don’t want in these situations)?

If you find yourself in this endless loop, feeling negative during a workout and not really making improvements physically on where you want to be. I want you to try something new next time. Roll with the thought, don’t battle it!

“This really hurts I want to stop” -- “Yep this hurts, but it won’t kill me.  I only have 5 mins left and just last workout I did something just as hard for 10 min so I can totally do this. I have done this before and as soon as I’m done I will feel better”

Everyone’s internal dialogue is different and how they handle it is different and that is OK. What is not OK is trying to do the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.  If your mental dialogue during workouts, competitions and/or races is not working, is taking up lots of mental energy and becoming negative….. try something new. I promise you rolling with a thought is much easier than fighting against it.

How to cope with an unsupportive partner in your health journey.

It happens in relationships and I think just normalizing it can really help while also openly talking about it: 

A few tips that can help in these situations: 

--Clear communication, sit down and really talk with your partner about what you need from them ... while reassuring them that THEY don't have to change!! And this is your journey!
--Be clear about what support you need! What does support look like to you?  Be transparent yet kind on what you need.
--Remind yourself that your health journey might not align with their thoughts, beliefs and opinions.....that is OK!! We are all on a different path and journey. They don't have to change if they don't want to. At the end of the day this is about you, your needs and your health! 
--If they are not supportive than seek out other support! Find your tribe!!!! Find an accountability buddy, a group, a class for additional support.  Build the tribe you need! 
--If they struggle with their own health and weight just be there for them, demonstrate great habits (while not pushing them on it)...you never know they might just start joining you! :)
--Try to understand that often the unsupportiveness is driven by fear in themselves, this is often about them and not about you. 
--If they have a favorite hobby make sure to support that too, maybe they enjoy painting and you enjoy exercise. Hobbies don't have to match just make sure what balances is the respect given to each other about the time, finances and space needed for those hobbies

Reward Eating

Let's chat about: REWARDS today, specifically reward eating. 

Have you ever had this thought…...
"I've been doing SO well this week, I deserve [insert junk food here]” 
“That was a really hard workout, I deserve [insert junk food here]”  
“I’ve had a really bad day at work,I deserve [insert junk food here]”

**Often this behavioral chain happens in childhood, did your parents reward you with food? Always feel free to dig on your own experience with reward eating...where did it come from..why does it happen. Be OK with digging in and learning your own triggers and experiences***

Once we normalize what is happening let's stop and think for a second.... is this thought process TRULY helpful to you, your goals and furthermore your health journey? Probably not.
 Let's reframe that thought. Whenever you start to think about what you DESERVE, remember to practice DISCIPLINE and ask the real question:   “What does your body deserve?”

"Why is it that I can gain 5lbs overnight?"

"Why is it that I can gain 5lbs overnight? HOW???”  

If we take in more calories than we can use at the moment, our body will store those calories in a few different ways. Our body will first store extra glucose in our liver and muscles in the form of glycogen. Once these stores are full, additional glucose is stored as fat. You know how athletes like to “carb load” the night before a big race? This is done to fill up their glycogen stores to prepare for the race because glycogen is easier for the body to use for energy than fat stores. The problem is that glycogen works like a sponge, holding up to THREE TIMES its weight in water, and water is heavy.

So here's what actually happens, Let's say one day all I eat a HUGE basket of french fries that has 3750 calories. I only burn off 2000 calories that day, which results in a calorie surplus of 1750 calories, approximately half a pound (one pound = 3500 calories). Logically I would think “I will see half a pound tomorrow morning on the scale” but what I will see is more like a two pound gain on the scale because of the glycogen/water response. 

French fries also have a ton of salt, which makes us retain water. This is because it disrupts the balance of sodium and potassium in the body, which affects our kidney's ability to filter extra water out of our blood. This will make us gain water weight and increase our blood pressure. So adding carbs + sodium can be a perfect storm for an immediate overnight weight gain (Remember we are talking weight **not fat)

So in our example, I’ve gained about 2 pounds from glycogen and water, and 3 pounds from water diluting the salt in my blood. That's 5 extra pounds in one day from eating something that was only the equivalent of half a pound of surplus calories. Also if you a hard workout the day before which has caused some muscle fiber tears (natural healing process) you will have inflammation, inflammation causes some micro swelling that can add even more! 
FINALLY the mystery is solved!! 

To sum up: The scale often lies! Don’t let the number on the scale that only measures your relationship with gravity have power over your emotions.

All or nothing mindsets around the new year

It's the New Year! And with that comes hopes, dreams, resolutions but also a tendency to fall back into past cycles of failure when it comes to goal setting. Let's make this year different when it comes to goals. Now is a great time to do some self reflection and to learn and grow from your past experiences. One of the biggest causes of failure when it comes to goals is being unrealistic with yourself and your obstacles.  Often that stems from an all or nothing mindset. Is this you on a daily basis?

You missed a workout: "Well screw it I will eat whatever I want for dinner what is the point?"
You start your day with a donut: "That's it. I can't recover from this. Might as well grab some fast food for lunch and go out to eat for dinner my health day is already done"

The failure here is trying to be perfect in an imperfect world, trying to be everything  #progressnotperfection will get you to your goals!

How can you improve and work on the all or nothing mindset? 1. Avoid the temptation to over generalize!  Watch the words like, "always, never, forever, etc..."

2. Be logical: Would you rather be perfect or progressing?

3. Change your mental filter..try to always look at the positive instead of the negative. Practice your daily gratitudes!

4. Watch your tendency for jumping to conclusions...take a step back, breathe, think....

5. Don't "should" on yourself for the past. "I should have done this_________, I should have done that___________."

6. Focus on what you can do today! Stay present!

7. Be aware of emotional reasoning... just because you failed doesn't mean you are a FAILURE! Separate your actions from how you are as a person!  We fail our way to success!!

8. Try not to take everything personally, take a step back and reevaluate the situation

9. Dial back from magnifying a problem and hyper-focusing on it (which builds on the negativity)

10. Celebrate the small victories

Here is to a healthier, happier, progression filled 2019! 

Do the things you need to do, so that you can do what you love

I played soccer year round and recreational softball in the summers from the age of 5 until I graduated high school. As a college student, I would make it to the gym usually once a week, eat like shit, drink and pull all nighters studying for exams. I somehow was lucky enough not to gain 30+ pounds (as most college students do) throughout those long 5 1/2 years. But looking back, I was the definition of "skinny fat". When I moved back home and got a "real job" the first thing I did after I got my first paycheck was sign up at a gym. I joined a small gym with my sister where they had kettlebell, boxing and boot camp classes. That was the time I became obsessed with weights and group fitness classes. I was there for about a year then I moved to Woodbury and was looking for a new gym to join. My best friend Nicole did CrossFit at CrossFit 1080 and she thought I would really like the idea of CrossFit and the intense workouts. I signed up for the 4 week intro to CrossFit class in December 2015 and became an official member of CrossFit 1080 (now Torque Strength and Conditioning) January 2016. 

It has now been 3 years since I have started doing CrossFit and I can't imagine doing any other kind of workout at this point in my life. As much as I bitch and moan on a daily basis (sorry to my 9:30AM workout buddies and my husband), I am obsessed. There is nothing better than lifting heavy weights and literally feel like you are about to die after every.single.workout.

This past summer, I started to become frustrated with my numbers not going up, slowing down in metcons, and I started experiencing pain in my right knee. I think Tyler finally got annoyed of my complaining and told me I should get the full body assessment done, multiple times. I was hesitant at first, only because I was nervous of what the results were going to be. I finally caved and got my assessment done by Tyler on July 31st of this year. Aaaaaaaand we were VERY surprised. We started doing the assessment and the first thing Tyler said was..."Has anyone ever told you that you have scoliosis?" To say the least, I freaked out. Tyler completed the assessment and encouraged me to see Lars.

I saw Lars a few days later and I showed him pictures from my assessment, he confirmed that I have adult onset scoliosis. My first reaction was I wouldn't be able to continue working out, I'm not going to be able to walk normal and I am going to have all these back problems. The weird part is, I didn't have any back pain, which was reassuring. Lars instructed me to keep doing what I am doing, try to even out my left side and be concerned when and if I have back pain. Tyler gave me my assessment results with specific programming, including A LOT of accessory work...YAY my favorite...

It has now been 4.5 months since my assessment. The first 2.5 months I was very consistent and was completing my accessory work after CrossFit classes about 3-4 times a week, with the help of Tyler's nagging and me being freaked out with the thought of having scoliosis. These past 2 months....not so much and I don't have any excuses for it. My numbers have FINALLY been increasing this fall/winter and I have been doing better in the metcons, doing most of them prescribed. Last week, I was curious if I had made any progress since this summer. Again...I was very surprised with the results. After seeing the improvement on my back, all of the accessory work has finally paid off. As you can see in the pictures, my right side was way over developed compared to my left side. Also, the curvature in my lower spine was way more significant.

To sum up my ramblings, I strongly encourage each person at Torque Strength and Conditioning to get a full body assessment completed by Tyler. I understand how people would think "how can we possibly do more accessory work?", but TRUST ME - it works! You will be shocked about how much your body is out of wack. With the specific programming from Tyler, we were able to get my entire left side just as strong as my right side. Before the assessment I wasn't able to fire my left glute, which was making my left hip pop with any squatting. Now, my hips are even with squats and my numbers have increased significantly. I now use more of my lats and pecs instead of my traps when it comes to all CrossFit movements.

My worst fear is getting hurt and not being able to continue to do CrossFit. Now that I have been working on my weaknesses and evening my body out through accessory work, I am more confident in CrossFit movements and everyday feel like a badass. I know I still have a lot of work to do, but I am getting there! I hope to continue doing CrossFit for the sake of my sanity oh AND my scoliosis :)

Results pictures below!