St. Patrick’s Breastplate

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

We’ll get to Paddy in a minute, but you need to know two things. First, me Mum was pretty much – so that meant in her mind 100% – Irish. Callaghan, she was, and part of me is too. The neatest thing about that was that she’d let us cut school on St. Paddy’s day to go skiing. i love me Mum, for sure.

Second, being a personal trainer, I train people and most folks think that means training bodies, which is true. I love bodies, yours and mine both. Amazing creations. Created, mind you, by God. (Be advised that anytime I mention “God” in these Newsletters I get a number of people hitting the “Unsubscribe” button, God save us. But here we go anyway.)

I figure that since God created us, He must have had us in His mind before He gave us bodies. Thus, we are a spirit with a body, not a body with a spirit, if you see what I mean.

Funny, most folks seem to think it’s OK that we each have some kind of a spirit thing attached to us like a cape or something, but bring God into it and the outlook changes instantly, yeah?

Anyway, it being St. Paddy’s Day and all, I thought I’d bring you the famous prayer of St. Patrick, he being the prototypical Warrior. Most of us know the story of St. Patrick, and perhaps most of what we know is wrong, but one thing is clear – he knew he was a spiritual being and he knew he was not alone in the universe.

It is said that he prayed the following prayer at the start of every morning to start his day well-centered, as we moderns might say.

It’s called “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” because the breastplate was the body armor of those days, and he prayed this to call in the protection of God for what he faced each day.

If you search that internet thing you’ll find all kinds of versions of this prayer, I’ve copied this from the good people at:

www.RansomedHeart.com

I trust you’ll enjoy it, and perhaps find comfort and security in knowing that you, too, can be safe in the arms of Jesus:

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.

I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.

I arise today, through
God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.

I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to your body and spirit!

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Self Sabotage, Anyone?

Once again – but not for the last time – Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!

Now then, how about a Christmas present to yourself? I’m not talking about a better body, although that’s a nice thought for most people (don’t lie to me, especially at Christmastime, OK?). No, I’m talking about a better self-acceptance.

Mind you, we’re not talking self-esteem, here, but self-acceptance, which is a horse of a different wheelbase. We’re talking about being happy about yourself, accepting yourself, without denying those things you know you need to change. As the inestimable Scott Sonnon says, “You’re wonderful the way you are, and there’s much room for improvement.”

This now begs the question, are you trying to not get
So let’s look at self-acceptance, self-denial (horrors!) and self-sabotage, shall we?

SELF-SABOTAGE AS A WAY OF LIFE

How long have you been trying to love your body? 

Been awhile now, hasn’t it? 

You know how to lose weight –eat healthy and exercise–so why are you still living in a body that you’re disappointed with? 

In my experience, people hold on to “unwanted” pounds for very specific reasons.

These reasons are on a subconscious level, which is where things get sticky.

Simply put, self-sabotage is your subconscious mind’s way of protecting you.

Seems counterproductive, but it makes sense when you realize that it is a defense mechanism meant to keep things from changing.

Your conscious mind says it wants to get fit to look and feel amazing, but your subconscious mind is pulling the strings behind the scenes, keeping your goals just out of reach.

As long as your subconscious mind thinks that you are safer being out-of-shape then you’ll be stuck.

Your most valiant efforts will be undermined by self-sabotage every single time.

But don’t give up, especially with the traditional start that we all like to make at New Years.

There’s a way to turn everything around, and it all starts with finding out the reason that your subconscious mind equates being out-of-shape with being safe.

Now I hope I don’t insult you by saying this, but I’m wondering if you are too gullible – that is, are you believing a lie that you, or somebody else, or Satan, is telling you? Let’s look at the lies you might believe and then look at replacing those lies with the truth.

Once you turn the light of truth on to that lie then it will no longer have any power over you.

Here are just five of the lies people believe – but search yourself for your own lies. If you get stumped, ask God, “Father, what lies am I believing right now?” As the Author of truth He’ll be happy to assist you, for sure – as long as you are willing to stop living a lie.

So, lets dig around for your lies, shall we?

1. Do you believe… You don’t deserve it?

Has someone in your life made you believe that you aren’t worthy of success? Or that they wouldn’t accept you if you were more successful than they are?

2. Do you believe… Change is bad?

It’s common to fear the unknown, but this could very well be the reason that you’re not reaching your goal. Being comfortable with where you are today could be the reason that you sabotage your efforts to improve your life through change.

3. Do you believe…Success will bring loss?

If you met your weight loss goal, would it bring out resentment and jealousy in your friends and family? Are you supposed to be the ‘screw-up’?

4. Do you believe…You’re not capable?

Are you unable to imagine yourself at your goal weight? As a truly fit person? Does the possibility of achieving your goal not seem real?

Spend time diving into your own mind to discover why it is that you aren’t meeting your goals. Once your whole mind is primed for success, then nothing will be able to stop you.

5. Do you believe…You’re not worth changing?

As we Christians (which I know not all of you Gentle Readers are) celebrate the birth of Jesus we often think of the most beloved verse in the Bible: For God so loved the world (that’s you!) that He gave His only Son. And this, Dear Friends, was the first and best Christmas gift of all time. If you’d like to discuss this gift feel free to call – my number is in the column to the right!

In God’s eyes you are worth the gift of His Son, in your own eyes can you be anything less than worthy?

In the meantime, stop the lying, would you?

And again, Merry Christmas!

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Open for Motivation? Try this –

Wonderful time, Christmas Season, for sure. Warmest and happiest of the Season to you as we celebrate the birth of Jesus. All the best to each of you and your loved ones!

Naturally, eating comes high and frequently on the list of favored activities for all of us during this season, and methinks you might want some motivation to help you do what you know you should do especially at this time of year.

So here’s my pep talk in bullet form—21 rewards that you will gain from regular exercise.

Do yourself a favor and print this list and post it where you’ll see it every day. When you need motivation or encouragement, simply read over this list and take action.

Remember that action alleviates anxiety. So whenever you’re feeling anxious over the current shape of your body, the stresses of the season, or the horror of having to face Christmas shopping crowds, take that as a reminder to jump into action – but then actually do, indeed, jump into action!

Remember the story about the three frogs sitting on a log. If two of them decided to jump off the log into the water, how many frogs were then sitting on the log? Correct answer: Three. Deciding to act is not acting. So decide, then jump!

And then begin to reap these 21 rewards of exercise:

1. You’ll reset your body: Exercise has been described as a giant reset button. A good workout will block appetite swings, improve your mood and even help you sleep.

2. Your clothes will fit better: Consistent exercise will tone and tighten your body, causing your clothes to not only fit better but to also look nicer. Also exercise ensures that soon you’ll be trading your clothes in for smaller sizes.

3. You’ll be less stressed: You have enough stress in your life—it’s time for a break. A good workout invigorates your muscles, leaving you relaxed and less stressed.

4. You’ll have more energy: WebMD tallied research studies and concluded that 90% of them prove exercise increases energy levels in sedentary patients. Next time you feel fatigued, fight it will the most powerful tool available: exercise.

5. You’ll be stronger: Exercise improves muscle strength and endurance, two things that you use throughout each day. When you exercise consistently you’ll be pleasantly surprised when difficult tasks begin to seem easy.

6. You’ll be less likely to binge: Exercise has a powerful anti-binge effect on the body. This is due in part by an increase in sensitivity to leptin, a protein hormone, which has an appetite-taming effect.

7. You’ll burn calories: You know that excess body fat is made up of stored and unused calories. Fight back by burning loads of calories with fat-blasting workouts.

You’ll be more confident: Who doesn’t wish they walked and talked with more confidence? A consistent exercise program will do just that. As your body becomes more fit, watch as your confidence sky-rockets.

8. You’ll have fun: Believe it or not, exercise can be extremely enjoyable. Remember how fun it was to run around as a child? Tap into your inner child as you find a mode of exercise that gets you excited.

9. You’ll reduce your blood pressure: Exercise has been proven more effective than medication in reducing blood pressure to normal levels. A single workout has been shown to reduce blood pressure for the day and regular exercise reduces overall blood pressure in the long run.

10. You’ll lose the jiggles: Regular exercise tightens flabby arms, legs and waistlines. So wave goodbye to the jiggles with a solid exercise program.

11. You’ll increase insulin sensitivity: Researchers at Laval University in Quebec discovered that exercise improved insulin sensitivity dramatically. Peak after-meal insulin levels dropped by more than 20 percent after as little as 3 weeks of consistent exercise.

12. You’ll sleep better: Do you toss and turn for hours before falling asleep? Exercise is a powerful sleep aid. Your tired muscles encourage your body to quickly fall asleep so they can get their overnight repair work done.

13. You’ll lower your risk of heart disease: Regular exercise strengthens your heart and makes it more resilient against disease. A sedentary lifestyle is a major risk factor for heart disease, so rest assured that consistent exercise is your ally against disease.

14. You’ll feel great: Vigorous exercise releases natural endorphins (happy hormones) into your blood stream that dissolve pain and anxiety. You’ve probably heard of ‘runner’s high’, this can be achieved by any great workout.

15. You’ll lower your risk of diabetes: Studies show that exercising as little as half an hour each day can dramatically reduce your risk of diabetes. If you are at risk of diabetes, or already have diabetes, regular exercise is the most effective treatment for reversing the disease.

16. You’ll meet cool people: You could benefit from a group of new, energetic friends, right? Gyms, bootcamps, workout centers and even the jogging trail are all great places to connect with fun new friends.

17. You’ll improve your BMI: You know that maintaining a healthy BMI is key in disease prevention. Exercise is the best way to keep your BMI under control.

18. You’ll increase your endurance: Do you ever get out of breath when walking up stairs or through the mall? Regular exercise builds your endurance for everyday activities.

19. Your doctor will be impressed: How many times has your doctor given you the lecture about losing weight and exercising more? Exercise regularly and get your MD off your back!

20. You’ll look amazing: Are you happy with the shape and size of your body? Regular exercise works wonders on your physique. Within a few weeks you’ll see shape and tone in all the right places.

Are you ready to alleviate your anxiety by taking action? Good!

Simply pick up the phone, or reply to this email, and let me know that you’re ready to get started. I’ll create a personalized fitness plan that’s just right for you and together we will get you into the best shape of your life.
Well, if all goes as planned Nicole and I will be skiing as you read this, but I should be back Monday – decide to call, then call Monday!

Let’s do this!

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Pearl Harbor Day, 2016

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Pearl Harbor Day still lives, in infamy, as does the malevolent thinking that leads to similar outrages.Yet for many it also occasions a chance to remember those who died that day – fathers, brothers, uncles, friends, and it is good to do so.

To me it is also appropriate to remember those who survived the bombing, such as my Father, and here’s why.

Remember that on the day it was attacked, December 7, 1941, the United States was not at war. Europe was, by then, afire with World War II, but as yet we had not entered into that cauldron. Now, in order to have been in the Navy at Pearl Harbor on that day you would have joined the military before that day.

When I asked my Mom how it was that Dad came to be at Pearl, she said that he had seen that war was likely and he wanted to do his part. To his everlasting credit in my eyes he became a Navy officer and was stationed on Curtis at Pearl. (He survived the war but died from injuries in an accident in 1975. Darn!)

I salute him and all the others who put the love of family and country above their own comfort, and who set aside their plans so that they might be in the service of those they loved. Jesus said there is no greater love than giving your life for someone else. That doesn’t mean you have to die, although He did, but it does mean you lay down what you want to do for the sake of someone else.

Mt. Diablo Pearl Harbor Beacon

Once again, those of us in the San Francisco Bay Area get a special memorial tonight. You may know that there is a light on the top of Mt. Diablo that was used before the war as an aircraft navigation beacon. First lit by Charles Lindbergh in 1928, it flashed every night as a signal to aircraft. However, when Pearl Harbor was bombed it was turned off so that enemy planes could not utilize it. By the time the war was over radar and electronic navigation made the light unnecessary so it was not put back into service.

But in 1963, I think, Admiral Nimitz suggested re-lighting the beacon every Pearl Harbor Day as a tribute to those who died on that day. So, once a year the light is lit and is allowed to flash all night. You have to stare at the top of Diablo for about 10 seconds and look for a bright white flash at the top. I don’t know the exact period of the flash, but keep looking. It will show up!

The beacon will flash all night long which at first may seem extravagant, but not when you compare what it is like to be in the military, away from home, night after night after night. Those nights get long, even in peacetime.

The ceremony to light it takes place in the late afternoon. The forecast is for clouds so you might not see it. I always go out and look regardless of the weather because it’s a way of honoring my Father and all who lay down their lives for us.

Perhaps we take our liberties too cheaply, but freedom is not free. Ceremonies like the Mt. Diablo Beacon help us stay alert to the cost that others, living and dead, have paid on our behalf.

In that sense, then, Happy Pearl Harbor Day.

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Veterans Day, 2016

Vets Day

Happily, most folks love their Veterans and that’s as it should be.

But Veteran’s Day is kinda like Mother’s Day – one day a year Mothers get special treatment even though Mothers are Mothers every day, yeah? (I think it’s appropriate to capitalize “Mother” since they’re such extraordinary people.)

Same goes for Veterans. Veterans and Mothers get all this glory for one day a year and then they have to go back to the normal issues of life.

To help you appreciate the Veterans in your life (and you have more Veterans in your life than you may realize – it might be it the mailman, the lady who helped you buy your home, your Doctor, or accountant) I thought I’d propose the following project for you. What follows is a list of exercises that simulate what it’s like to be in the military.

Sadly – or perhaps happily – there is no way to simulate what your favorite combat Veteran has gone through. Those Vets are in a class by themselves – and there’s only one way to join that class.

So for today, we’ll have no guns, no explosions, no combat, just a snippet of what virtually everyone in the military goes through whether they are front-line or desk-bound. I want to give you a chance to live through a taste – just a small taste – of what it’s like to be in the military.

My suggestion is that you pick one of the following ideas and carry it out. Just one, but be mindful that all of the others belong to the daily life of the military as well. Please – pick just one of these, do it, then go tell your favorite Veteran that you’ve just gotten in a small way a sample of what they’ve gone through.

OK? What I’m going to do is explain a bit of the military life, then challenge you to live through what your Veteran lived through. For the sake of your Veterans try just one of these Challenges! Here goes:

1. Mail.

REALITY -You never get enough, it never comes on time, it’s a bittersweet reminder of home.

CHALLENGE – Next time you want to read your email or texts, wait one hour. Same with phone calls. Then imagine what it’s like to wait a week.

2. Meals.

REALITY – Often monotonous, sometimes not cooked or overcooked, sometimes late, sometimes (as on ships and subs) eaten in rooms without windows, or in the dark, or not at all.

CHALLENGE – Eat the same thing you did yesterday, or delay your lunch for two hours, or cook your dinner and let it get cold. Try having a cold can of soup for dinner.

3. Sleep.

REALITY – Sometimes you don’t get any. Sometimes interrupted in the most unpleasant ways. Sometimes in unpleasant conditions and places. Sometimes in a room or shipboard sleeping bay with 50 other guys (with creaky bunk beds). Sometimes with troubled dreams. Sometimes too wacked-out to fall asleep.

CHALLENGE – Go to bed a few hours late. Get up a few hours early. Tell someone to call you at 2:30am just to bug you. Worse, tell someone to yell at you to wake you up.

4. Drudgery.

REALITY – Standing all day. Sitting all day. Packed in tightly in a small container wearing helmets, pointy gear, or weapons, or seated in a chilly container at 30,000 feet, or a warm sweaty one 500 feet under the ocean surface.

CHALLENGE – Stand at your desk for an hour, or sit with a pile of bricks on your lap, or drive to work with the car heater off and the windows down. Go for a walk in the cold without a jacket – or wear a sweater and two jackets. Ride in the most crowded BART car for three stops past your normal stop.

5. Clothes.

REALITY – same uniform every day – not just the same style, but the very same as you wore yesterday. And the day before, and the day before. Who needs soap?

CHALLENGE (and this could get kinda raw, I’ll bet nobody does this one!). Wear the same clothes three days in a row – without taking a shower. Frankly, I’m not gonna do this – I sort of hope you don’t either – but you get the idea.

6. Work.

REALITY – Sometimes dangerous, sometimes demanding, often monotonous, frequently unfulfilling (other than the truly gratifying fact that you are contributing to an important work).

CHALLENGE (and you knew we’d work an exercise into this thing somehow) – Make it a goal to do 50 pushups today by the time the sun goes down. If you can’t do a pushup on the floor, lean against the wall or your kitchen counter and at least push against it 50 times. At least do something hard, boring and repetitious to get a feel for a soldier’s day.

7. Pay.

REALITY – Military pay is hardly generous. Worse yet, you sometimes feel like the average citizen is hardly grateful for what you do. You wonder how you’ll make a living when and if you get out.

CHALLENGE – This will be easy. Take a $10.00 bill, put it in an envelope, and send to a Veteran (or active military) but don’t put your name or a return address on it. You’ll know they’ll enjoy it, they’ll not know who did it, and naturally they won’t thank you for it since they won’t know who sent it. You’ll know what it’s like to give without getting much in return.

If you don’t know any Veterans then send it to the Wounded Warriors Project:
http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/

8. The Waiting Family.

I tried to come up with a simulation for this one, but nothing can mimic the feeling of separation and loneliness that military families endure. The waiting, the fears, the anxiety cannot be replicated. Worse, the soldier on active duty knows his or her family is on edge, and he or she bears that as well. These dear people are also Veterans and deserve our thanks.

You get the idea.

If you’ve been in the military you could add a thousand things to the list. The ordinary things of life that civilians take for granted become the extraordinary things of the military life.

If you haven’t been in the military then why not send this Newsletter to your favorite Veteran and tell them, “Thank you. I appreciate you more than ever!”

A final word. If someone ever told me, “Well, hey, they volunteered for it. Too bad for them.” Or, in an earlier era, “They got drafted. Tough luck.” My answer to that would be, “Yeah, and you know what? In spite of the hardships, the challenges, and worst of all the occasionally piercing loneliness, many would do it again because the cause is worth it. And they’d do it again in spite of your stinking ungratefulness.” And then I’d turn and leave.

But that would not be most people, and I trust that is none of you. A grateful nation loves its Veterans. Go find one and give thanks.

Jesus said, “Greater love no man has than this – that he would lay down his life for his friends.”

Thanks, Veterans. God bless you, your loved ones, and the country you served!

Tom Schweickert

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Fat-Burning Ab Exercises

Are you still wishing for flat, washboard abs?

I know we were supposed to have a set of ski exercises for this Newsletter, but it seems to me that working on your core (which largely means your abs) presents a great precursor to a ski workout. Besides, a great core you can use every day, skiing has to wait for the snow.

But fear not, the ski exercises are coming next – unless some better idea shows up here at the shop!

So. Traditional crunches are old news, so let’s take your ab routine to the next level with the following Fat-Burning Ab Exercises. The most effective ab exercises strengthen your core as a whole –which helps prevent dreaded back pain, increases your agility and, of course, makes you look good and ski nicely.

In your new ab routine the focus is on quality over quantity. A few concentrated movements are always more effective than dozen and dozens of old fashion crunches.

Plank: When performed correctly, a simple plank is one of the most effective ways to tighten your entire core. Proper form is key. Keep your back flat and your belly button pulled in toward your spine.

Lie face down on mat resting on your forearms, palms flat on the floor. Push off the floor, raising up onto your toes and resting on your elbows. Keep your back flat, in a straight line from head to heels. Tilt your pelvis and contract your abdominals to prevent your rear end from sticking up in the air or sagging in the middle.

2) Mountain Climbers: This vigorous variation of a standard plank kicks the core tightening up a notch. Angling your knees toward the opposite shoulder is a wonderful way increase the intensity even more.

Place your hands wider than shoulder-width apart on the ground in a push-up position. Bring one knee to your chest and then back to the starting position, alternate each leg quickly.

3) Russian Twist: Nothing quite brings the burn like a properly done set of Russian Twists. By holding a medicine ball or dumbbell in your hands, the exercise becomes even more effective.

Sit on the floor with knees bent like in a “sit-up” position. The feet should be kept together and slightly off the floor. Keep your torso straight and your back off the ground at a 45 degree angle. Hold a medicine ball or dumbbell with both hands. Next, the arms should be swung from one side to another in a twisting motion, with each swing to a side counting as one repetition. Move slowly for a more challenging workout.

4) Knee Tucks: All too often I see people neglect their lower abs in favor of quicker, easier exercises. The fact is that our lower abs typically need the most work, so give them the attention that they need with these Knee Tucks.

Start on your back, bend your knees with your feet on the floor and knees touching. Extend both arms overhead on either side of your ears, palms facing up. Exhale and bring your knees up towards your chest. Slowly lower your hips back down to start position.

5) Side Bridges: In yet another variation of the fantastic plank, Side Bridges are much more challenging that they appear at first glance. While the focus is mainly on your waist, due to the stabilizing nature of this exercise, you’re also working your entire core as a whole.

Put your feet and legs together as you lie on your right side. Place your right arm under your body and lift your upper body so that your right elbow is directly under your shoulder. Your left hand should be resting on your left hip. From this position, slowly raise your hips from the ground until a straight line is formed from your ankles to your shoulders. Hold the position for a moment, slowly return to the starting position, and repeat.

Even the best exercise routine in the world is fruitless if you throw away your results with sloppy eating. Remember to keep your meals lean by avoiding processed carbs, packaged foods or fried items. Fill up on lean proteins and fresh vegetables and reward yourself with organic, seasonal fruit. That, my friend, is lean living!

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Injured Again?

Nicole and I were backpacking at elevations over 8,000 feet last week and there was no sign of snow, but the nightly temperatures are, indeed, dropping below freezing at Squaw Valley and the snow-making crews are ramping up so hopefully we’ll have some slopeside activity soon.

But, speaking of skiing, one can’t be too proactive when it comes to fitness, so before we launch into the series on ski exercises (it IS coming, keep watching!) let’s look at injuries and the prevention thereof.

After all, I’ve got a some challenging sets of ski exercises (which are, of course, valuable for non-skiers as well) headed your way and we all want to be fit in order to get fitter, yes?

INJURY PREVENTION WHILE WORKING OUT

Can you relate to this scenario? Ski season almost here, and after putting it off for too long, you commit to get fit for the season – only only to find yourself injured the minute you start working out.

All of the sudden your fitness goals go back on the shelf and you are left to deal with the pain. Whether your injury occurs right off the bat or after years of regular workouts the result is always the same. It is discouraging, painful and downright depressing.

And since studies suggest that up to 38% of all exercisers suffer from an injury each year, it is a subject worth exploring.

Top 3 Workout Injuries

The following three ailments occur commonly among active people. Let’s explore the cause of each and then detail your very own injury prevention plan—because let’s face it, you simply don’t have time to spend nursing and injury (and losing all that progress you had made). We’re gonna throw some physiology at you, here, but again – if it helps your skiing, it will help your daily life. That’s my theory, anyway. So. Here goes.

1. Strain / Pulled Muscle:

Occurs when a tendon (connects muscle to bone) or muscle is stretched or torn. If you suffer from a strain you will feel pain and swelling in the muscle belly, or loss of function if the strain occurred in a tendon. Many strains occur as the result of an improper warm-up and insufficient stretching.

On a personal note, I’m often in a hurry to get to the exercise portion of my own workouts, and I’m tempted to get there with my clients as well, but we ignore warming up at our own peril. DO NOT SKIP YOUR WARMUP!

2. Sprain:

Occurs when a ligament (connects bone to bone) is stretched or torn. While this can happen to any ligament in your body, the most common placements of sprains are in the ankle, wrist and knee. Often this injury will happen suddenly as the ligament is stretched beyond its normal limit, usually during a fall or other acute trauma.

3. Low Back Pain:

It is said that 80% of the population will experience back pain at some point in their lives—and the list of causes is as diverse as the sufferers themselves. Here are the main reasons for workout related back pain:

  • Improper form: Similar to bad posture, using improper form while performing weight bearing exercises will leave your back sore and aching. The good news is that once your form is corrected this pain should subside after a healing period.
  • Weak muscles: If you have a desk job then chances are your deep back muscles are inactive and unconditioned. When you start an exercise program, but fail to properly strengthen these muscles, the result is often an aching back.
  • Strained muscles: Not to pick on that desk job, but another result of sitting all day is tight back muscles. When these muscles are not properly warmed up and stretched before exercise begins, muscle strains occur.

Your 5-Step Injury Prevention Plan

Now then. Injuries don’t have to slow you from meeting your fitness goals. The following 5 steps will dramatically reduce your chance of injury and if you do find yourself injured, but have been following these 5 steps, your recovery will be quick and efficient.

Step 1: Stretch

What is more boring than stretching? You want to exercise, not sit around touching your toes—right? Even though it isn’t exciting, stretching is the best way to increase muscle elasticity and durability. Tight muscles are big contributors to strains—remember? Take the time to stretch everyday before and after your workout to stave off injury.

Step 2: Warm Up

Preparing for your workout should not begin and end with putting on your gym clothes. Your muscles need to be coaxed into motion by way of a 10-15 minute warm up in order to prepare them for injury-free use. Cold muscles are less elastic and are therefore more prone to tears.

Step 3: Proper Gear

For most fitness enthusiasts proper gear has everything to do with their shoes. Don’t be fooled—not just any shoe will do. Find shoes that offer support and traction for your exercise of choice, and make sure that they aren’t too tight or too loose. If you are prone to ankle injuries then try a pair of high-tops for extra support.

Step 4: Lifestyle

Stop for a moment and think about your car—if you don’t maintain it with regular tune ups, oil changes and quality fuel then you can’t expect it to perform well on the road. The same applies to your body. Getting healthy amounts of sleep, eating well balanced meals and staying hydrated will all contribute to your performance during exercise. The healthier your lifestyle is the less likely you are to suffer an injury.

Step 5: Condition

This may seem like the most obvious step to injury prevention, but unfortunately it is the most overlooked. People who keep their bodies in top condition by exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are the least likely to injure themselves. When exercise programs are started and stopped sporadically your muscles are most likely to become injured.

Of course being conditioned also has another great benefit that everyone enjoys – you get to look and feel great! And who doesn’t what that, right?

Got it all down?

Wonderful! Now, if it would just snow… .

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