Consistency is Key



We don’t reach the mountaintop from the mountaintop. We start at the bottom and climb up. If we can’t reach the top, we turn around and try again the next day. We do this because we know our bodies adapt, and grow stronger. We know that if we are consistent, we can teach our bodies to climb a little bit higher each day.

At Paragon, it is our obsession to help you up the mountain.  We want to build up your tolerance, endurance, and capacity. Developing a consistent platform of training more, not less, will protect you from injury.

With consistent training, not only will your  muscles and tendons adapt in an optimal way, but you will see improvements in cardio-respiratory fitness, bone mineral density, psychosocial health, and coordination.

But you must ultimately work to increase the load intelligently to develop a consistent platform of training stress. This is how you can begin to develop resilience. This consistent platform of training is protective against injury, as long as you reach a high amount of load safely.

Consistency is one of the most powerful tools you have. Consistency not only powers you through the day-to-day so you can reach goals but also makes tough routines more automatic, so you'll stay motivated.

How to stay consistent:

Consistency suggests a general steadiness, an unfluctuating focus. It is a tool of discipline, and this can lead more importantly to a commitment to being healthy. If we’re committed, we’ll do what’s necessary to maintain, and more likely to progress, our fitness.

So be committed to your story, to making your life bigger. Be committed to adventure.  Here are a few things to consider:


  1. Motivation:  Variety in your workouts can keep you motivated and working out more often (but you can leave that part up to us if you want!)

  2. Make a plan, and put exercise in that plan

  3. Rest and recovery. It’s plain and simple folks: make it a priority. Put it in your schedule

  4. Stop comparing yourself to others

  5. Set goals that are fun and specific. Let them be a part of your story


Real change happens on the level of the gesture. It’s getting up early to run before work. It’s falling from a bouldering project over and over and over until you finally get it. It is hands on the knees, gasping for a single breath. It is looking down from the top of the mountain, humbled.  The work is there. It’s our task. Doing it will give us strength and clarity. It will bring us closer to who we hope to be.

Laurel Lippard


The Issue With Tissue

From the title, you might think this post is about the conspiracy of Big Tissue not releasing a cure for the common cold, raising the demand for booger catching devices.  Maybe even a rant about how unethical it is to waste so much paper on the sniffles (biological material voids the recyclability of tissue.) Alas, this is about neither of those things.  We’re talking tissue in the biological sense; the stuff that makes up that cool thing your brain moves around (your body.) Specifically, mechanical tissue i.e. your muscles, tendons, and ligaments.


What’s the issue, you ask?  Great question, but hold your horses. First let me set the scene with some explanation of what we’re dealing with here.


Muscles

Super cool things that move our bones around, create heat, and impress people.  They are really good at stretching and shortening and have a lot of blood flow, allowing them to adapt quickly.

Tendons

Tough ropy thing at the ends of a muscle that connect the muscle to a bone.  They can be stiff or pliable, depending on the needs of a specific joint. They do not receive a lot of blood flow, and are therefore slow to adapt.

Ligaments

More tough ropy stuff that connects bones to other bones.  Great at making sure bones stay where they should be. Just like the tendons, not a lot of blood flow, so they have a tough time adapting.

Now that the biology lesson is over, here’s the issue with tissue: it’s like a three year old.  If it doesn’t like something, it’s gonna tell you “no.” Often violently, with a very wet face. On the other hand, if it DOES want to do something and you don’t let it, violence and tears also ensue.  So what do we do? Panic and throw sugar at it until it crashes from the insulin spike? Let it cry until it hyperventilates and passes out? No. None of the above.

There are two options.  The first is to anticipate the toddlers needs and avoid an outburst.  If the first doesn’t work, the second is to sweet talk the toddler back to its happy place.  Still enjoying this toddler analogy? Me too, but let's get real.

What I’m saying here is that it's really easy for your muscles, tendons, and ligaments to be in pain, or freak out.  If you lift something heavy that your tissue wasn’t ready for, you might have pain. If you sit too long and don’t use a tissue like it wants, you might have pain.  If you shrug your shoulders while answering emails all day, you might have pain. It is a very fickle aspect of the human body and odds are you’ve dealt with it multiple times in your life.  But the important thing to remember is that tissue can be managed one of those two ways I mentioned.

You can anticipate its needs with strength training so that its ready for anything you throw at it, or you can sweet talk it with strength training and mobility to get it back to a happy place.  Either way, making a tissue stronger (in smart and specific ways) is most likely the best option. Good thing you’ve got a kick-ass gym to whip your tissue into shape!

Understanding tissue is an important step in understanding pain.  Often the dull aches and the pin point owies that sneak into your body are just tissue tantrums.  Things that can be managed with exercise. Not faulty joints that will never get better or bad backs that probably need surgery.  Just three year olds who need some attention.


-Brian


IMPORTANT

If you have had a recent accident or abrupt event and developed chronic or increasing pain accompanied by swelling and discoloration please seek out a doctor.  If you have chronic pain that is often accompanied by burning or numbness, also seek out a doctor. These are signs of structural damage (broken bones, tearing, etc.) or neurologic issues that we as trainers are not equipped to deal with.


The Value of Strength

Since the beginning of time life has been a measure of strength.  The strongest cave person got to lead, the strongest warrior won the war, and the strongest bully put you into a headlock between classes (her name was Katrina and it wasn’t my proudest moment).  We idolize, dogmatize, and strive for strength in everything we do. So why aren’t we strength training? For some its self-consciousness, not wanting to wade through a sea of weights while gym bros stare at you with their snapbacks and spaghetti tank-tops.  For others it's not wanting to waste time on anything other than what you enjoy, like running, biking, or competitive knitting. Whatever the excuse, it isn’t good enough to neglect strength training. Here are a few reasons why:

Strength and Sport

If you think doing your sport or your favorite activity is enough to keep you injury free and killing the game, you are mistaken.  In terms of health it’s a good start and maybe you’re reading this saying, “WRONG, I’ve been (insert activity) for years and I’m golden”.  Well you may be the exception, but the rule is that regular or supplemental strength training improves coordination, power output, risk of injury, and mental fortitude.  Doesn’t that sound great? Who wouldn’t want those things?

Strength and Weight

“I don’t want to get big” is a common statement uttered by many a person (including me at one point) and is something we need to address.  Weight training only makes you big if you want it to make you big, otherwise it just makes you strong. In fact, it usually makes you lean rather than big because muscle is a big determinant of resting metabolism.  This means that, as you gain muscle, the amount of calories you passively burn increases, reducing your body fat. Say whaaaaaaat? I know, pretty cool stuff. Another statement I’ve heard is that people would rather focus on cardio so they can lose weight.  The thought that cardio burns more calories than strength training is false. It does burn calories for a short period of time, but again, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. So put those excuses to bed and go bench press! Totally kidding, I hate bench press.  Like a lot. Don’t do it, but do go lift some weight.

Strength and Aging

No one likes getting old, except for those awkward few who thought they’d spend their whole lives as a gawky weird looking elf thing but grew into an o.k. looking human (hallelujah), but besides that aging sucks.  Luckily there’s a tried and true way to slow the aging process and keep that new car smell on you. No, it’s not new car essence mixed with citrus oil and turmeric (although I love me some turmeric.) It’s actually just good old fashioned strength training.  Surprise! As mentioned above, this wonderful form of exercise does increase metabolism and therefore calorie consumption for a stellar bod, but it does much more important things as well such as increasing your bone density (which I recently learned stops accumulating at 35...so get on it), keeping your hormone levels balanced, and increasing blood vessel density which aids in the health of your tissues.  So let's hit the kettlebells and knock some years off!

This was a brief overview of the value of strength and the first in a series of ongoing blog posts about all things strength related!  There might even be a cool one on the history of strength training if I work up the motivation to do that much history research. We’ll see, for a trainer I am very lazy.  

I’m strong enough to admit that.  

-Brian

 

Ask a Trainer

“Why do you always make us hold things on the opposite side?”

This is called cross-patterning and we do it for two primary reasons.  First, your body has certain movement patterns that are fundamental to its development and subsequent performance later in life.  These patterns are things like rolling, reaching across your body, and crawling. Crawling uses opposite appendages at the same time in a crossed pattern.  Using this pattern in other movements helps organize your mind-body connection to achieve tasks easier (coordination, agility, etc.). The second reason is that your muscles often operate diagonally from each other.  For example your glute complex usually works in association with your opposite oblique during tasks. This is also sometimes referred to as “slings” by physiotherapists.

“How do I get to where I can do a pull-up?”  

There are many different modalities you could use to achieve a pull-up.  One way, made popular by Pavel Tsatsouline, is a method called, “greasing the groove”.  This involves repeating a pattern multiple times everyday with very light weight. For the pull-up, this would involve using some sort of assistive tool (band at the feet, a box, or doing pull downs) and doing an assisted pull-up multiple times throughout the day.  Another method would be to solely focus on the lower portion of the pull-up, or the eccentric portion. This type of contraction can take more weight and drills a similar movement to an actual pull-up. You could do this ten times a day, eventually moving to one pull-up, then two, and so on.

“Why am I sore?”  

DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness is a natural physiological phenomenon in which muscle tears and metabolic by-products produce minor pain and swelling at a region of prior exercise.  This effect is amplified with eccentric contractions and high repetitions, two very popular ways to exercise at Paragon :)

Your Perfect Diet

Nutrition can be confusing. I get it. 

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There are a million different diets and philosophies out there all claiming they are the best approach; they'll make you the healthiest, leanest, most happy version of yourself with glowing skin and plenty of energy. 

I am no different. I am going to give you advise and research in my posts for what I find to be the best eating pattern. My personal belief is that we are all different and what works well for some people, doesn't work at all for others so there is no perfect diet

You have to investigate for yourself. Be a self advocate! Begin to pay attention, test and learn how the foods you eat are making YOU feel and perform. How do you do this? Start with mindfulness.

Take a moment 30 minutes to an hour after meals or snacks to do a scan and gauge how your body, digestion, brain and emotions have changed.

Are you grumpy?

Do you have brain fog?

Are you gassy or bloated?

Do you have any aches or pains popped up or become more prevalent?

Do you have more or less energy?

Are you satiated from your meal? 

These are some important questions to ask yourself! What you consume can tell you a lot if you're willing to listen. And this is just the beginning of your research!

Now that you are working on step 1 - your mindfulness, lets talk about the best foods you should start incorporating into your daily diet. Just because a perfect diet doesn't exist doesn't mean that there aren't some general rules that most dietitians and nutritionist can agree on. I think we can all agree on these 3 rules:

1. The majority of your diet should be whole, unprocessed food.

*Hint- these are foods that are not packaged, engineered, or shelf stable.

Unlimited vegetables

Quality sources of animal products

Healthy fats with every meal

Fruits

Nuts and seeds

Fiber rich grains and legumes

Some cultured dairy, if tolerated

2. Eat a variety of foods. 

This will give your body a variety of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. 

3. Stay well hydrated.

Being properly hydrated helps your body to work properly and efficiently.

Incorporating more whole foods and learning to listen to how your body responds is a great start to finding your perfect diet. Think you can handle this? I know you can!

-Betsy Whited, NTP

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Ready to go deeper into finding your perfect diet or changing your eating patterns?

Check out the How To Eat program I developed for changing your dietary and cooking habits, eating more real foods and testing foods to find what works best for you as an individual.