To be human...

When it comes to movement the human body tops them all in the animal kingdom.  Amphibians, birds, fish, invertebrates, mammals and reptiles all move in their own ways some more unique than others.  However as humans we have the ability to move in more ways than any other species. We can walk, crawl, run, jump, climb, swim, twist, bend, rotate; lunge and some of us can even fly!  Our bodies were built so we can be creative and move in multiple ways.  Humans were meant to move; our bodies crave movement so it’s imperative we provide it with what it needs to maintain a healthy and fit lifestyle.  The recipe is simple, move more than you did yesterday.  The challenge for some is simply convincing ourselves that we need to move more to feel good and to become healthier.  Because the mind is connected to the body, we often neglect our potential movement and allow our minds to control our bodies.  If we block our normal and stagnant thought patterns and create movement with our body, than naturally our minds will follow and learn to appreciate these movements we were born to do.

There are no limits to how much we can move or how fit we can become just like it’s impossible to learn too much.  Our bodies adapt and grow as does our minds but only if we allow them to.  We must never let our bodies and minds to stop growing.  To be healthy both mind and body need to be in sync so we can apply ourselves to movement patterns of fitness and wellness.  Lots of people have the misconception to be fit they have to join a gym, lift weights and hit the cardio machines.  These are effective ways to become fit but it might not be right for you.  There are countless other ways to enjoy movement and we must understand that fitness comes in many forms other than pumping iron.  Walking, running, yoga, bike riding, boxing, dancing, rowing, climbing and sports are just some of the ways we can become fit.  I’m a firm believer that in order for us to become healthier we have to move in one way or another doing something that we enjoy.  Movement helps relieve tension in muscle tissue and can help reverse and relieve joint and muscle pain.  It won’t happen overnight but with the one day at a time approach we’ll always be better than the last.  So find something you enjoy doing, learn a new skill or sport that will enable and encourage you to move more often.  It’s our duty to give our body what it was built for and that it is to be human and move. 

Mobility is KING!

Mobility is King…


Mobility... What does it mean to be mobile?  How does that differ from being flexible?  Are they the same or different?  For starters they are different, however the body benefits from both.  In simple terms, flexibility is bending over and touching your toes, or doing a full split ala Jean Claude Van Damn between two semis. 

Don't try this at home

Don't try this at home

Mobility is moving the body in various ways using full range of motion, lengthening and tightening opposing muscles allowing us to transition from concentric to isometric and eccentric movement patterns.  For example, let’s look at a one of the basic human movements the squat. Humans have been squatting for thousands of years long before inventing the chair.  Squatting is a basic movement but yet most of us do not have the mobility for a proper squat. Most people have tight hips and ankles that often put stress on the knees by forcing us forward instead of pushing our butt backward while keeping our heels down.  It’s human nature for us to squat; just look at babies they do it all the time.  

Squats are so basic but yet as we grow older throughout our adolescent years into adulthood we do it less and less.  Instead we sit; we sit for hours a day at work, while we eat, at home on the couch, at the game, in the car… you name it.  There really isn’t a place we don’t sit.  Now here is the problem; all this sitting and no squatting is causing havoc to our bodies.  Our postures are being affected, the way we walk becomes affected which can often lead to developing back pain, hip pain as well as problems in our knees and ankles.  Why does this happen?  Well, the human body is made of bones, muscles, blood and water which all play a vital role in our overall health and movement.  Muscles are connected to each other the same way bones are connected and in between each joint are tendons and ligaments that link everything together.  Each muscle and bone plays an important role on how it affects other parts during movement, which is called the kinetic chain.  A kinetic chain is the notion that these joints (bones) and segments (muscles, tendons and ligaments) have an effect on one another during movement.  When one is in motion it creates a chain of events that affects the movement of the neighboring joints and segments.  If one area of the body is limited in motion then over time the muscles can shorten (tighten) or lengthen, which can create an imbalance to the opposing muscles that can lead to poor movement patterns, injury, inflammation and ultimately poor mobility causing further pain and worsening posture.  You see, without mobility we are limiting our range of motion.  The less range of motion due to tightness the less muscle we are recruiting, the less muscle we are recruiting the more stress we are causing to other opposing muscles, which can lead to further stress to our joints.  See the chain reaction?  The body is an interconnected highway and this is where the notion of the kinetic chain comes into play.  That’s the bad news.  The good news is we can learn to squat again; we can all improve our mobility.  It takes time but with consistent work the body is capable of moving as it once did when we were babies.  Not only do we have to move more and exercise to be healthy, but we also have to improve our mobility to prevent further damage down the road.  Everyone from marathon runners and professional athletes to the average person needs mobility to prevent injuries, to walk without pain and live life freely.  For overall fitness, health and longevity, mobility is KING!

3 Basic principles for a healthier lifestyle…

Anyone who knows me knows that not only do I love fitness, but also I’ve made health and fitness part of my lifestyle.  I love to move my body in multiple ways that involve sports and weight training with compound movements using multiple muscle groups.  Often I find myself changing my routines from body building workouts, to strength training, SAQ drills (speed, agility, quickness) core strengthening, body weight movements and yoga.  These are just some of the types of workouts that I enjoy doing during my training; I like variety.

In addition to my workouts I make sure my nutrition intake is well balanced by eliminating processed food, soda, sugar, starchy carbs as well as reducing my meat intake and alcohol consumption.  My nutrition regimen includes plenty of wild fish, legumes, fruits and veggies especially the green leafy kind.  By no means is my nutrition perfect, nor am I perfect when it comes to enjoying a social life with friends and family over some burgers (veggie J) and beers.  But I count those as cheat days; it’s never good to deprive yourself of the good things in life once in a while.  Every choice I make to eat or drink something comes with me knowing that the very next day I’m back on my grind with my workouts and nutrition.

I wish I can say everything about my nutrition and workouts are flawless; that my body fat percentage is 10% but its not.  But what I’m here to say is anyone can get healthy and fit by 3 basic principles which I use to build and maintain a healthy and fit lifestyle. 

1.     Move more - People it’s that simple; move more than you do now.  The body is designed to move, to walk, run, twist, climb and jump.  Get up and go for a walk every morning before work, after dinner, during lunch.  Go walk 30 minutes to an hour and make no excuses, go the day after new years, on your birthday, the morning of Christmas and your days off from work.  Move more, breathe more, stretch more; do these things after dinner instead of sitting on the couch stagnant and immobile trust me your body will thank you for it.

2.     Eat real food – By real food I mean food that has not been processed by man, packaged with preservatives, additives, artificial ingredients labeled as “natural flavors and ingredients”.  Eat food that is grown by Mother Nature, fresh organic veggies and unprocessed meats from animals free of GMO’s, hormones and chemicals.  Eat fresh wild fish and avoid farmed raised when possible.  Sure you might spend a little extra money on these healthy alternatives vs the subsidized priced prepackaged processed foods.  It is an investment in you and your families’ health.  Invest in your health now and reduce the doctor bills later for high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, depression, anxiety, fatigue, digestive and several other health issues related to poor nutrition.

3.     Sleep – Turn the TV off, put the phone down and disconnect at least an hour or more prior to bedtime.  Allow the body to get sleepy, to shut down, to rest and recover.  Televisions, phones and computers all have screens which emit lights that trick our minds into thinking that its daytime by suppressing melatonin, a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain that helps control your sleep and wake cycles.  Allow your body to sleep deeply for at least 7 hours or more if possible.  Deep sleep is the body’s way to recharge, recover, rejuvenate and replace the burned cells from our body earlier in the day to regenerate new ones.  Notice the trend here with these “RE” words.  All of these synonyms mean really the same thing when we’re speaking of the body.  Renew, invigorate, revive, restore, bounce back, breathe new life, reenergize.   All positive words meaning great things for our bodies, our minds, our souls and our health.  Take naps during the day for 10 to 20 minutes you’ll give your body a bounce in your step that it needs.  There is a reason we call them power naps, it give us a quick recharge to get us back on track. 

These 3 principles are the stepping-stones to build a foundation to a healthier and fitter lifestyle.  These are all principles that work, as long you want it bad enough.  We all want to achieve success in this world, earn a good income so one day we can have a family, buy a house, a car, maybe start a business, travel but what good is it to achieve all of this when we can’t enjoy it to the fullest because our health is not where it should be. 

This is the journey on which you can build upon, learn from and become better than yesterday.  A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  These are the steps we must take.  Take these steps today and make it part of your lifestyle then build upon it one brick at a time to become a stronger version of you. 

Embrace the struggle...

Embrace the struggle…

Sadly, there is no short cut to fitness, no short cut to washboard abs, no short cut to a nutritious diet and no short cut to living a healthy lifestyle.  It takes work, hard work to accomplish all of this.  It takes time, dedication, perseverance and the indomitable will to keep going when you fail.  It’s a constant battle that never ends because when you finally lose 10 pounds or 100 guess what, you’re just getting started.  Anyone can lose weight, anyone can build muscle; it’s only the strong minded who keep it off.  Maintenance is the hardest part of staying fit, living healthy and eating well.  It’s a constant struggle but with the time, practice and appreciation for changing your life, it’ll eventually become routine.  It will be an expectation that you must possess to surpass life’s challenges.  You have to embrace the struggle; once you do then you’ve got it.  You know life is hard, you know it can throw you a curve ball and at times you will fall down.  Well, the only way to succeed at living a healthier and fit life is not to roll with the punches but to punch back! Nothing will hit harder than life, fight back, move forward and just when you think you moved far, move even farther.  Don’t accept the struggle and let it beat you down, instead embrace the struggle and move forward.

“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one” ~ Bruce Lee

Strong, like a tree...

The other day I spoke to a friend and the topic of weightlifting came up.  He told me he wants to get stronger and wanted to focus on his upper body.  My response was he would limit his strength potential by not working on his lower body as well, particularly the posterior muscles.  Limiting your body’s potential for strength and growth to just one area actually does more harm than good.  I explained to him the importance of total body strength and how the body will overcompensate for weak muscles eventually leading to muscle imbalance, pain and injury.   

To put it into perspective I asked him to think of his body as a tree.  In order for a tree to grow it has to have a solid foundation in its roots, followed by a strong trunk where it can grow its branches.  Each part of the tree works together in tandem just like the human body.  For total body strength you need strong legs and glutes just like the roots of a tree, a strong core like its trunk and strong arms like branches.

Without strong legs as a foundation Mike Tyson wouldn’t have been so dominant.  His punching power was generated from his legs up through his core and into his hands.  Without strong legs Bruce Lee would not be able to strike his opponents with such force and velocity.  Without strong legs Lebron James wouldn’t be as dominant or explosive.  Think about it, almost every athlete has to have total body strength: specifically leg and glute power.  Whether you’re playing volleyball, baseball, football, soccer, tennis, basketball or just about any sport, you need a strong lower body to perform.   To dunk a basketball, power through a defensive line, or hit a home run, you need strength in the legs, glutes, core and arms.  One muscle group can’t do it alone.   

Start with the lower body.

The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the human body. It is large and powerful because it has the job of keeping the trunk of the body in an upright posture. It is the chief antigravity muscle that aids in walking up stairs, standing from a seated position or bending over to pick up the groceries.  However, the gluteus maximus is one of the most underutilized muscles and as mentioned before, weak muscles can cause an imbalance leading to pain and discomfort in other areas where the body overcompensates, like the lower back.  Lower back pain is one of the most common body aches suffered by millions of people.  Exercises like dead lifts, squats, hip thrusts and Romanian dead lifts are excellent ways to build stronger glutes and legs and when done properly will also build your back, core, shoulders and arms. 

The strength and flexibility in your glutes and legs is the key to total body strength and fitness; without them, strength and athleticism is limited. Don’t limit your potential for strength; grow strong like a tree.

Derrick the trainer

The 80/20 rule...

Let's face it, getting in shape is not easy.  Whether we are trying to lose a few pounds, build more muscle or run a marathon we’re going to have to work hard and understand we will have good days and bad days.  Some days we’ll feel like we can conquer the world and other days the world is beating down on us.  I’ve seen so may people especially those new to fitness give it their all, 100% only to last a couple of weeks, if not days.  Why do they only last a short period of time?  Well more than likely they haven’t adopted fitness as a lifestyle or even pace themselves as they embark on this fitness journey.  So what happens next? They burn themselves out faster than they ignited the flame.  This happens when you over commit by setting your goals too high.  They miss a workout here and there, have a bad food day and just like that the flame has gone cold. 

This is where my 80/20 rule comes into play.  Its simple, you commit 80% of the time and leave the 20% for the off days.  Why this works is simply because we are humans and humans are imperfect. The intent is there to be 100% at life, training and nutrition but if they miss a workout or indulge in a happy hour and wings, they feel like they’ve completely failed. That’s why I tell my clients its ok to have a glass of wine, or a cup of ice cream or even take the day off.  As long as you stick to the plan 80% of the time they’ll be successful. It works for me and it’ll work for you as well.

Derrick the trainer

A new year, a new beginning...

It is the new year 2015, and just like last year around this time something remarkable has happened. The world has become one year older and just like clockwork we have once again become motivated to change.  Suddenly we’ve become committed to lose weight, to become stronger and healthier and to finally get in shape.  I call it the New Year’s resolution bug.  I call it a bug because it is similar to the common cold virus; it comes for a short while then it’s gone. Here, I'll explain.  There are many types of colds like headaches, sore throat and fever, to stuffy nose and congestion.  Sometimes it can last a couple of days to a couple of weeks, and then before you know it, poof it’s gone.  

Well, similarly, there are just as many New Year resolutions, from getting in shape, to saving money, traveling, all the way to calling mom more frequently.  Often I hear people and the media talk about getting to the gym more than anything else.  It’s a hot topic that lasts for weeks until we get involved with the daily grind of work, school and family.  Rightfully so, these are all important responsibilities but, what happened to our New Year’s resolution to get in the gym?  Well, like many "bugs" it came and went.  Why does this happen? Well simply because resolutions don't work.  Just like dieting, it’s a temporary fix.  If we commit to a temporary solution then guess what, the problem is going to come back. The key is to make a permanent solution; the key is to make a commitment to a lifestyle change.  

Some of my closest friends and family have heard me say it a thousand times; the key to living a healthier life is to make fitness a part of your life; a new lifestyle that coincides with your regular life while becoming healthier in the process.  Fitness doesn't happen overnight, it doesn't happen in a week and sometimes it doesn't even happen in a month.  It’s a difficult journey; you’ll want to skip a workout day, treat yourself to a dessert or take a second serving of food, which can set us back from our goals.  But the more we adopt to these changes gradually over time we will become more fit without even realizing it.  That’s why becoming fit has to be a lifestyle change, we have to gradually change our eating habits and gradually change our lack of mobility.  It’s like starting a new job where in the beginning can be a challenge to adjust, but then you’ll eventually adapt and learn how things operate.  Work is part of our lifestyle, and fitness should be too. 

You see the reason why the gyms are packed the first couple of weeks of the year is because there are so many enthusiastic folks who are making a short term change, they haven’t committed to taking the lifestyle journey.  So they’re on the treadmills for hours a week, taking every spin class possible and eating salads every day for lunch and dinner.  Then after a few weeks they don't see any results, their bodies are rejecting this sudden change in exercise and now discouragement ensues.  They begin slacking, taking a day off here and there to taking a week off to eventually donating wasted money to the gym because they haven't gone in months.  Where did all of the enthusiasm go?  Blame it on the New Year’s bug.  

As I said earlier, adopting a lifestyle change to fitness is not easy.  You have to start off slow, learn and understand what works for your body.  One of the most amazing things about the human body is the ability to adapt, but we have to give our bodies time. Sometimes we have to disconnect our minds from our body because  we want it so bad that we force our bodies to do things it wasn't ready to adapt to.  Too much of anything is never good, and shocking our body to movements it’s not accustomed to can be detriment to our goals.  On the contrary this can also be the case to someone who wanders into the gym with no agenda, no tactic and therefore are lost as they don’t even know where to start.  This is a common theme to many, a theme that’s accepted too often.  Sometimes all we need is a little guidance, some direction to a path that we never thought we’d be able to take.  This is a reason why I became certified as a personal trainer; to help those discover this path, this journey to a healthier, and fitter life. 

Working with a personal trainer is like having someone do all the thinking for you.  All the planning and programming is done for you; taking out the guess work and doubt of what you should be doing.  Half of the hard work is done for you; the other half is the fun physical part, which you’ll realize that you can actually do.  Working out with a personal trainer is more than a person telling you what to do; it’s about building a relationship, a team that grows together in every step of the way from small accomplishments and failures to big accomplishments and failures.  Both the trainer and the trainee are held accountable, they communicate about what works and what doesn’t.  They strategize, compete and overcome obstacles together.  It’s about making you believe that you can in fact overcome fitness challenges and succeed.  We succeed and fail together, because there is no “I” in team; Together Everyone Achieves More.  Forget the new year resolution, consider making a new life resolution.  Consider teaming up with me as your personal training partner to surpass your fitness goals and make a believer out of yourself that you can be better than you were last year.  LoseYourselFiTness is all about change, transformation and the betterment of one’s fitness.        LYFT to be fit. 

Derrick the Trainer. 

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