Meet Ms. Relentless

Today’s blog is about perseverance and relentless commitment! Every client has different hurdles to jump when they embark on their journey to living their healthiest and fittest life. I recently asked one of my clients if she would write a blog for me and allow me to feature her as one of my Real Warriors and she said, “yes, but I don’t believe I should be chosen for this?” That’s exactly why I selected this client, who I will appropriately call, Ms. Relentless.

When you have an addiction no matter what you are addicted to you, you’re always fighting a battle in your head. My addiction is no Different than someone who struggles between drinking every day or maintaining a sober lifestyle. I am in a constant battle with my addiction to food and sugar.

I am successful in my career and spend far too many hours in the office, but unfortunately many careers demand this level of engagement and we focus on our careers instead of our health. About a year ago, I just got fed up with everything hurting, feeling achy walking up and down stairs, and being exhausted by the end of my workday. I was told by the doctor I had high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and was pre-diabetic. It was time for me to change my lifestyle and invest in my health the way I do in my career.

Rob has helped me to see that wholeness and being aware of my actions is part of health, not just cardio and weights. While I have hated every workout for a year and am not where I want to be, I showed up and put in the work.

Ms. Relentless has a lot more to say so check back next week for more of her thoughts on winning her inner battles and the goals she has achieved in a year of showing up.

Coach Rob Cooks!

The U.S. Weight Loss Market is Worth $66 Billion

IMG_1008Take just a moment to really think about that — 68 BILLION DOLLARS!  This figure includes online dieting, meal replacement products, frozen entrees, support groups with meal programs such as Weight Watchers and Nutri-System, and many other “nutrition-based items.”  Why not just learn to cook clean, healthy, and indulge in your guilty pleasures in moderation?

You don’t have to be a professional chef like Chef B-Rizzle, to learn how to make low-calorie, tasty, and enjoyable meals. Many of my clients have taken ahold of their nutrition by learning to plan and cook in a new way.  No one way of eating works for everyone.  Here are a few things you can try to baby step yourself into new healthy meals in your house without eating pre-made, over-processed “diet foods.”

I would love to feature some of your recipe successes on my blog or in my NEW newsletter! if you would like to SHARE your recipes and photos with me, please message me, text me, tag me and use #CoachRobCooks!  BAM!!!

You better EAT your vegetables!

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Adversity. Injury. Positivity.

This week has been a very trying week; I tore my quadricep tendon from my knee cap. While my career and my life revolves around activity, fitness, and strength, I am obviously human and face setbacks like many of my clients.

I work with people in all stages of physical fitness and health struggles, so now it’s time for my to lead by example. Like I tell my clients, I will not allow adversity or injury to take away my positive outlook. I am committed to “showing up” and moving forward. Looks like it’s my turn to take some baby steps.

Thank you for your messages and prayers. I am truly blessed to have the love and support of my clients, friends, and family.

Mid-Week Motivation – 2018 Starts NOW!

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment,” Coach_RobJ

You may be surprised to learn that I have clients who are not fans of working out.  Some of my clients have to talk themselves into showing up every single time they have a session scheduled, but THEY SHOW UP.  They push through exhaustion, body aches, medical set backs, and days they just flat out lack motivation.  All of my successful clients have one important quality in common, they are disciplined and that discipline is building their own bridge to the their next big accomplishment.

What is your next BIG ACCOMPLISHMENT for 2018?!

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A Real Warrior, A Real Struggle

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Late 2011 vs Mid 2013

A couple of weeks ago, I walked into Synergy at 5:30am to Rob’s “Good morning Sunshine” and instead of my normal response, I plopped down in his office and just started crying.  Poor Rob – Coach, Trainer, Therapist, “One of my girls,” and a true friend – He sees it ALL.  I was in pain and couldn’t understand what happened to the progress I’d made over the last 15 months.  I was feeling pretty defeated and like no one could possibly understand how both physically and emotionally painful this set back is for me.  In typical Coach Rob fashion, he gave me some sage advice and asked me to write a blog about my set backs because, “It’s real life.”  

From 2011 to mid 2013, I had gotten much healthier and was in great shape, so I was devastated when my car accident restricted my ability to work out for almost a year.  I gained at least 40 pounds and felt like I was back at SQUARE 1.  Let’s BE CLEAR, I am NOT one of those girls that can work out 3x a week and eat healthy and stay in shape.  It takes work.  At any size, I have been very active, able to do yoga, and run around in stilettos; after my accident, I could do NONE of these.  For me, this was unacceptable! IMG_4459

When Rob and I started working out, I took breaks between exercises within a set and often times, I would have to sit on the floor and stretch before I could continue.  But I WOULD NOT QUIT – I persevered!  IMG_7948There were days I would work out 3 times a day, once with Rob, once in the pool, and then cardio.  I was on a mission.  From the end of April 2016, only 3 months out of surgery, to December of last year, I made huge strides.  I dropped weight, was able to regain some of my balance, and could workout without taking breaks! I could see the light at the end of the tunnel!  

During my recovery period, I have been plagued with a lot of emotional life changes.  I am going through a divorce, I lost my career, because of the extended leave of absence, and I was/am (2 years later) in a horrific lawsuit with my car insurance company.  So, I threw myself into looking for a new career and working out.  After several months of looking, another of Coach Rob J’s Real Warriors, Steph, helped me find a new career I LOVE!  Her team at Hire Ups is AWESOME!    I was finally feeling like I had gotten my life back!  Within 3 days of being back in an office environment and sitting, I was in excruciating pain and absolutely ready to give up.  You know that saying, “a body in motion, stays in motion?”  Ummm that’s TRUTH right there!

IMG_1040Due to the pain, I went to my surgeon and received less than stellar news about the future of “my back health.”  My last few sessions with Rob had been emotionally taxing, because I had lost a lot of my agility, balance, and stamina.  The biggest deterrent for me, the pain.  I was/am scared of the pain that is waiting for me with every workout.  I told Rob through tears, “I just can’t do it (I have never said this phrase to him until that day!), I am just so frustrated.”  He let me cry and rant and curse a little about the uninsured driver that changed my life and then he leaned across his desk and said, “I’m sorry Sunshine, but you can do this.  We just need to go back to what we know works.  Baby steps.”  So here we go, BACK to the beginning…For the record, I HATE BABY STEPS!           

 

All About Recovery

What is recovery and why is it so important?

How much time do you spend in the gym (or working to physically improve your body)?

Probably not much. Well, at least compared with the amount of time you spend between those sessions.

Gym time is simply a stimulus for change. This stimulus will only create results if we recover enough between workouts. The quicker and more efficiently we can recover, the sooner we can spur further progress.

When someone doesn’t recover adequately, performance and health may suffer. Many athletes describe it as “hitting a wall.” Many exercisers refer to it as “overtraining.” It usually means low energy and an overall sensation of not feeling quite right. Fatigue occurs because recovery wasn’t adequate.

If we looked at someone’s insides, we might also see that their markers of inflammation are elevated. We might see that their connective tissues aren’t healing. We might see their happy neurotransmitters and anabolic hormones going down and their catabolic hormones such as cortisol going up.

In short, lack of recovery is a complex, multi-faceted phenomenon with wide-ranging effects.

The underlying causes of fatigue fall into two main categories:

  1. Central (neuromuscular)
  2. Local (peripheral)

Our central nervous system (CNS) acts like a car engine regulator. If the engine on a car revs too high for too long, it shuts down. Our brain attempts to protect our muscles the same way. It will reduce the rate of nerve impulses.

Conversely, local fatigue is related to energy system depletion and/or metabolic byproduct accumulation. Using our car analogy, this is sort of like running out of gas or rusting.

overtrained All About Recovery

What you should know about recovery

We can do lots of activities between workouts. The ones we ultimately choose greatly influence how efficiently we recoup. We can place all of our “out of gym” activities into two main categories:

  • Sympathetic activities – often referred to as “fight or flight”
  • Parasympathetic activities – often referred to as “rest and digest”

sympathetic parasympathetic All About Recovery

Pursuing ambitious career goals, building relationships, balancing finances, acquiring food, acquiring shelter, and all of the daily activities required for human survival are sympathetic activities.

They are stressors and can bump up levels of cortisol and adrenaline.

When we get wrapped up in these activities and let them dominate our life, it can result in:

  • Poor blood sugar management and insulin resistance
  • Depression, sleep disruption, and carbohydrate craving
  • Decreased thyroid hormone output and a reduced metabolism
  • Altered sex hormone activity
  • Amino acid loss from muscle

If this is chronic, production of stress hormones can slow and the development of ongoing fatigue could occur. This type of fatigue is central, or neuromuscular. The body has been revving too high for too long and it’s shutting down.

Now, removing all stressors from life might sound appealing, but it isn’t a positive thing. Rather than eliminating stress, balancing stressful activities with relaxing and energizing activities is the key.

Relaxing and energizing activities are parasympathetic dominant. These include:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Tai chi
  • Spa treatments
  • Meaningful relationships/discussions
  • Jacuzzi time
  • Sauna
  • Relaxing hobbies
  • Reading
  • Music
  • Drinking tea
  • Daydreaming
  • Warm baths
  • Candles
  • Aromatherapy

Meditation, yoga, pilates and tai chi can help to lower stress, improve oxygenation and stimulate recovery. They’ve been around for thousands of years because they work. Spa treatments, sauna time and baths can facilitate lymph circulation and recovery.

Sleep and meaningful relationships can also regulate our recovery. A restful sleep and a good laugh are like a carnival for energizing and recovery hormones. And everyone likes the carnival.

Most people need 7 to 9 hours of restful sleep each night to perform their best. See All About Sleep for more. If your sleep has tanked, you may be overtraining.

One activity isn’t necessarily better than another; it’s more about what the specific activity does for you. Remember, the immune system is working overtime between exercise bouts as it tries to bring things back into balance. The least you can do is nudge it along.

Prioritizing 30 minutes of parasympathetic activity each day is essential for productive recovery.

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Nutrition

Real food

On the nutrition front, eating real food in its unprocessed form will give your body the nutrients it needs. We cover this in depth throughout Precision Nutrition v4. Consuming whole foods along with herbs and spices can help to moderate inflammation, assisting in recovery.

Caloric intake

Avoid lowering calories below 1500 per day when training more than 7 hours each week.

Appetite

Appetite can clue you in on your recovery status as well. If you can’t imagine eating more than a couple pieces of fruit each day OR feel like a bottomless food pit, you may be overtraining.

Water

And don’t neglect hydration. Plenty of fluids can be important for lymphatic function.

Supplementation

Supplements after training can enhance the recovery process. These include carbohydrates, protein and BCAAs. See AA Carbohydrates, AA Protein, and AA BCAAs for more. If recovery supplements or a nutrient dense meal aren’t in place after workouts, the regeneration process can be delayed. Glutamine and creatine might also be of use for recovery. See AA Glutamine and  AA Creatinefor more.

Phosphatidylserine is one of the few supplements that might help to control stress levels, see this article for more.

Avoid unnecessary anti-inflammatory medications, prescription or over the counter (e.g., NSAIDs). While we don’t want chronic inflammation, we do want inflammation to happen in the initial stages after trauma. When we suppress inflammation, we may also forfeit the recovery process long-term.

Workouts

Variation and cross-training

If we don’t cross train and vary workouts, specific muscles and energy systems may not fully recover. Think of a hard core marathoner or muscle head, always doing the same program until they burn out or get injured (or both).

If you do intense intervals and then intense resistance training, day after day, you can tax your anaerobic system. This is one of the reasons lower intensity cardio is so popular between resistance training sessions for strength and physique athletes.

If you do endurance cycling and running day after day, you’ll tax your oxidative system, moreover, nutrient stores will likely go un-replenished.

Those are both examples of local fatigue, with depleted energy systems and metabolic waste product accumulation.

Starting the recovery process

After each stressful workout, we must repair damaged tissues and cells while replenishing nutrient stores and removing wastes.

Engaging in an adequate warm-up, mobility work, a cool-down, and plenty of flexibility work will assist in the recovery process. Think of it as pre-hab.

Improving and ensuring good circulation is an important part of this. Blood brings new oxygen and nutrients while removing wastes. Lymphatic circulation sends white blood cells to do their job while tidying messes left behind.

Exercise and immunity

The relationship between exercise and immunity is what researchers call a “J-shaped curve”.

  • Sedentary people have a moderate risk of infection. Their immune system isn’t running as well as it could be.
  • People who are regularly active, but moderate their intensity and vary their training, do better than the sedentary people. They’re the healthiest bunch.
  • People who are active but constantly pushing their limits — whether that’s workout frequency, duration, intensity, or loading — without proper recovery start to become sicker and sicker the more they crank up the difficulty. In extreme cases, they can end up with a serious infection such as pneumonia.

nieman 19952 All About Recovery

Overtraining/Under-recovering

People often talk about “overtraining”, but in reality what they mean is “under-recovering”.

You may be overtraining if:

  • Your muscles are always sore
  • The idea of going to the gym makes you feel depressed or anxious
  • In fact you feel more depressed and anxious overall, with a side order of crabby
  • You aren’t sleeping well — or can’t stop sleeping
  • You have no appetite or a ravenous appetite
  • Everything hurts, all the time
  • You seem to come down with every darn virus going around
  • Your gym performance has been slumping — either seriously stagnating or getting worse

One objective indicator of overtraining/under-recovering is elevated morning heart rate. If you’re concerned, take your pulse before you get out of bed one morning. Here’s one handy test.

You can also do a couple of other home tests to pinpoint adrenal fatigue, which often also signals overtraining/under-recovering. More on adrenal function and testing

Summary and recommendations

  • Prioritize 30 minutes of parasympathetic activity each day (e.g., yoga, meditation, massage, warm bath, Jacuzzi, light conversation, laughing, etc.)
  • Don’t lower calorie intake below 1500 when training more than 7 hours a week
  • Use a carbohydrate, protein, or BCAA supplement after training
  • Consider using creatine, glutamine, and/or phosphatidylserine
  • Avoid using anti-inflammatory medications on a regular basis
  • Eat nutrient dense foods at regular intervals, incorporate herbs and spices, and drink water and tea whenever you are thirsty
  • Vary your training program and cross-train
  • Participate in low intensity exercise between higher intensity bouts to promote recovery (e.g., yoga, walking, swimming, stretching, mobility work, etc.)
  • Aim for 7-9 hours of restful sleep each night

by Ryan Andrews