STEP UP YOUR SUP STROKE: The art of applying leverage

G0123081.jpg

"Leverage" is likely not the first term that comes to mind when you think about fitness and sports performance. Without leverage, however, you can't achieve any of the typical fitness objectives, such as power, strength, or speed. In fact, leverage is relevant to all basic movements we make. 

Archimedes once said, "Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world." That statement—a basic explanation of how leverage is created—is mechanical in nature, but it can be translated into human terms. 

 

Cross Training for SUP Outdoors

Casi Rynkowski is a go-getter. She’s a outdoor fitness specialist, certified personal trainer, ACA Level 2 SUP instructor, expedition paddler, SUP surfer and a mother of three. “Cross-training is key to increasing performance on the water,” she says. “The great outdoors can be your training ground with big benefits you can’t find inside the gym—both physically and mentally. Taking a break from your main sport of choice can also help prevent burnout and keep your passion alive.” Here, Rynkowski gives us her personal smorgasbord of SUP-supporting activities.
 

Finding your tribe on the water...

One of the key reasons I wanted to start my business, was to not only to share my love for adventure but to find my tribe of ladies which had to exist somewhere. Corporate world, to stay-at-home mom, to personal trainer, to outdoor fitness specialist living in spandex and craving waves to surf, bodies of water to paddle and rock to climb-- This is how I got where I am today. The transformation was not easy, often judged and misunderstood. I was blessed to have many male mentors in the outdoor industry who were willing to let me tag along, but I was always in a pod of guys and my skill often outmatched as my adventuring began in my 40's. The Outessa Summit is an incredible experience for anyone women wanting to make the leap but not having a tribe to do it with. Here is my latest article featured in Supthemag about the tribe of women I met at the Outessa Summit.

 

Make peace with your Mental Self

“How to lose weight and get fit in three months or less.” Somehow, that has become the average timeframe we allow ourselves to achieve our fitness goals. Three months is not any kind of magic fitness number - it’s just what’s left of a year after we carve out all the days that we have allow ourselves to fall off the fitness wagon.

November and December have become the official “game off” months in a fitness quest,  as the crazy holidays arrive, with big dinners and goodies galore. Then June through August have become the “I will be outside burning calories (translation: eating barbecue and drinking beer on the beach) months” and then, as winter vacation approaches, we cross off the two weeks before and after any vacation plan, to account for the stress of getting ready and then recovering from the time off.

Bottom line, we let the days, weeks and months that overlap holidays, summer, vacations, sickness, quarterly business cycles, menstrual cycles, special events, bad mood days and hangnails sabotage our fitness plans. I am human too, and I battle these demons – damn you HBO series Game of Thrones.

How much time does all this leave us to achieve our fitness goals? Six months maximum, scattered across the calendar - and that’s before we even factor in wildcards like those hangnails. 

How can you maintain a fitness progress if you keep starting over? Unfortunately, you can’t. My point is not to paint a bleak picture, but to deliver an ever-so-important smack on the melon with the fitness reality two-by-four. There is NO optimal time to start a fitness journey and NO real reason to stop. The reasons we invent are self-imposed ways of avoiding the hard work that we need to keep doing during those less-than-optimal times. 

How long does it take to achieve a fitness goal? Speaking broadly, let’s say at least six months. Consistency, frequency, and intensity of your training, plus sticking to a healthy diet and including sufficient recovery time, all play a huge role. The reality is, you’ll probably need closer to a year. What you do after you achieve your goal is also key.  Here are some fitness facts to chew on.

If you are on a quest to build muscle, the average male who is controlling all of the above factors and eating a pristine diet can expect to put on one to two pounds of muscle per month. That doesn’t sound like much of a result for living a perfect fitness life, but if you factor in a daily venti one-pump cinnamon dolce latte, an occasional party night, and eating a gallon of ice cream once in a while (hey, it happens), you will delay your success and push your timeline to reach your goal out even further.

Weight loss can be a bit easier to achieve, because you can “rob Peter to pay Paul.” To lose one pound, you need to burn 3,500 calories in a week, and you can do that through diet, exercise or both.  The average person can lose one to two pounds a week with workouts and controlling calorie intake, but those hangnails can still get in the way, and the robbery works both ways.  You can kill it in the gym one week but still eat away your progress the next.    

1C6A1719.JPG

If you have not figured it out yet, we all live very much in our heads, and our “Mental Self” can prevent us from achieving our fitness goals. Changing how you approach fitness could be the key to your fitness longevity. Start by looking at fitness as a permanent part of every day, and not just a temporary solution. Make it your lifestyle. Build it into your everyday routine, not just through diet and exercise behind four walls, but by living it with your family and friends. If your Mental Self is getting in the way, and you can’t envision what living a fitness lifestyle could look like, here are some guidelines to consider.

1) Find your tribe. There is strength in numbers. Friends and family on the same quest can help you keep on track. You will still need to do the work and fight your Mental Self, but having a friend who can help you tell it to “get with the program” is a major benefit.

2) Explore fitness weekly. Indoor rock gyms, mud runs, triathlons, and - my favorite - outdoor adventure sports, all deliver awesome cross-training benefits disguisedas social fun. Mother Nature is the best cure for an ailing Mental Self. Sunshine and fresh air have a way of making your workout feel not so laborious. Skip the gym sessions and get outdoors as much as you can, even if you just bring your weights outside.

3) Plan physically active vacations that will allow you to mentally power down but keep your body revving.  Sure, your Mental Self can become fatigued from work overload, but that does not mean your vacation needs to consist of flopping on the beach for seven solid days.  One of the best ways to complete a brain dump is by tackling an outdoor fitness adventure that fills your mind. Rock climbing and surfing are great for this.  

4) Last but not least, for the love of all things fitness, realize that fitness needs to be a permanent part of your life.  You work for money or you don’t get paid.  Fitness is no different.  You need to work at it to get there, and to keep it.

Winter's Respite

Photo Credit:  Peter McGowan

Improving your surf skills takes time on the water.  Something I lack as a busy mother of three, business owner and living an hour and a half from the ocean.  I do what I can, when I can and it makes me happy.  I was honored to be included in this story from Joe Carberry in SUPthemag.  Although I am a transient Rhode Island surfer, I do hope to plant my roots there someday soon.  For now I will continue to take the trek north or south, chasing waves.

SUPPLEMENTING TEAM SPORTS WITH OUTDOOR ADVENTURE

SUPPLEMENTING TEAM SPORTS WITH OUTDOOR ADVENTURE

SUPthemag

Ready, set, go! Cleats, balls, lacrosse sticks, pads, bats, tennis shoes, jerseys, snacks, lawn chairs, sunblock, dirty laundry, repeat. This is life as a full-time mom with three kids embedded in the world of team sports. In the blink of an eye, the weekend is gone…every weekend.

As a trainer and parent, I enjoy seeing my kids participate in team sports. But I feel the benefits of individual sports are often overlooked; especially lesser-known ones such as outdoor adventure sports, of which SUP is a prime example.
 

Fitness and that "T" Word

I can’t simply talk about fitness and the “M” word for women without bringing up the “T” word for men.  What expertise do I have on the topic?  Nine years of training, gently nudging men to exercise, and explaining why “this” (insert stomach grab here) is happening.  We ladies aren't the only ones who battle the bulge.  Low testosterone is a big factor that can cause weight gain in men. In fact (are you ready men?) - the heavier you are, the lower your testosterone level is likely to be. 

Decreased Testosterone levels can strike as early as the 20s for men, but are more typical after age 30, with decreases of 1% to 2% occurring as you approach 40 and 50. The hormone testosterone helps to build muscle, melt fat, fight off depression, and prevent diabetes or cardiovascular disease.  It’s an all-around “great ‘guy”, when present in the right amount.   When your testosterone drops, weight gain can happen for a variety of reason.  If that’s not enough, the more fat you carry, the more aromatase enzyme you produce, which converts testosterone, to estrogen, making it difficult to add lean muscle to your body.   Uh-oh.  This is the kind of roller coaster no one wants to ride. 

Getting off the rollercoaster of fat turning T into estrogen, and lack of T turning you fat, is not easy.  How you start solving this fitness puzzle is the key to success.  Get your T levels and diet under control first, by losing weight and adding a weight lifting program, because  adding muscle increases your metabolism and raises T levels. 

OK, so this next insight may be hard to swallow:    Regular consumption of alcohol can significantly decrease your T levels.  I hear you thinking “So, how do you define significant?”  If experiencing a 10% T level decrease over a three to four week period sounds hunky dory, well then, go for it, but I have a feeling that a 10% T loss could bring on the same feeling as the Patriots losing in the playoffs - no bueno. 

On the flipside, I do have good news on the diet front.  Eating good fats, similar to a Paleo diet, can increase your T levels.  Saturated fat contains cholesterol, which is important to testosterone production. Conversely, eating a regular low-fat, high-fiber diets can reduce T level production. So, you can toss out the rice cakes.  Go good fats!

Good news is coming again boys. Sleep can help prevent your T levels from dropping.  I can hear the standing ovation from mankind happening along with proclamations of, “See honey?  She says I need to sleep in, ALL the time!” Ladies, I did NOT say that.  Instead, prioritizing sleep over TV time or a game that goes on until 2 AM when you’re really tired is important if you want to prevent your T levels from dropping.  Poor sleep habits can decrease your T levels by 15%. Ouch.  Stress does not help either.  Cortisol is created when stress levels are high and it can disrupt your sleep patterns, which we know drops T.  You may have to add to yoga during football games to keep your stress levels down and assure sufficient sleep happening. Kidding here of course.    

“Manopause” is real too.   We women are a bit more open when it comes to discussing our emotional state. It's not as common a conversation among men, but the fact is that hormone-induced changes don’t only occur in women. Low T can bring on depression, fatigue and mood swings.   Cells in the brain have testosterone receptors.  Scientist are not exactly sure why or how, but studies have shown a tangible link between low T and the mental state in men. It is real, but don’t despair, because exercise and proper diet can help shake off the emotional turmoil brought on by low T. 

Stress, lack of sleep, poor diet and lack of exercise can be hard to control when you have a ton of responsibilities, so finding things that takes you away from it all becomes crucial. Just don't make it wine, pizza and the sofa. You need to break the vicious cycle and build in “you” time, and it has to be the right kind.  The fitness kind.  It doesn’t have to be in the gym either. Outdoor adventure sports are a great way to weave fitness into your life. Mountain biking, hiking, ice climbing, skiing, kayaking and more can build muscle, burn calories and help bring back some T, delivered in such a way that the hard work is sweetened with a healthy dose of outdoor “ahhhh”.  Getting outdoors can be a powerful antidote for depression or anxiety.  It can shake you out of a haze, give you clarity and provide a new perspective.  If you are ready to start the low-T battle, consider getting the basics under control and mixing up your fitness options in the gym and outdoors.  Make your T-battle a quest to achieve fitness for life.

 

Low testosterone is a big factor for weight gain in men. In fact, (are you ready men?) - the heavier you are, the lower your testosterone level is likely to be.
 
 
header-sub-abuse.png
 
 

Fitness and that "M" Word

Menopause and fitness.  There I said it.  If you are thirty something and thought I was going to say that other “M” word, don't click close yet.  This is important information for you too, especially in your 30’s.  The more you do now could mean less work in the gym for you later.  Less work = good.  Right?  Now I know I’m asking a lot.  I’m waving the white flag saying, mayday, mayday your ship will go down too. And you’re thinking hell that’s ten years away.  Let’s start with this -  peri-menopause symptoms can be felt as early as late 30’s . Women between the age of 30-40’s begin to lose .5-1% of bone density and muscle annually. Did I get your attention yet? 

Here are the brief Menopause facts without going into all the symptoms.  Menopause  typically happens between the ages 50-54. Peri-menopause can start as early as late 30’s but more commonly appears 40-45. Weight gain, specifically in your mid-section happens.  Also known as the “midsection spread”.  That word alone should not be allowed.  It’s a terrible title. Evidence has shown, decreasing levels of estrogen directly effect metabolism and our bodies hold on to fat storage.  Our strength and muscle tone declines more rapidly as well.  Sleepless nights and stress levels contribute to the weight gain. And then there is the bone density loss and increased risk for heart disease.  It all doesn’t seem fair.  

Fact - you need to build a strong body now so you won’t have to go through the painful process of starting later after the proverbial S*@$t hits the fan.  Many women in their 30’s are in the throws of bearing and raising children.  Forging their career paths in the big world. Finding time to take on a battle that feels far away, may seem silly but it is extremely smart.  Weight training, weight bearing and fat burning cardio exercise are key to avoiding the “midsection spread” - again TERRIBLE WORD.  Changing how your body responds to the drop in estrogen levels now is the only way to take on this battle. And you want to go into to this battle wearing armor, riding a stallion and carrying a big sword.  Not naked trotting on a poodle with a steak knife.

Adding muscle before menopause will help keep your metabolism rev-ing.  It takes time to build muscle.  Yes muscle does weigh more than fat and takes up less space.  You can eventually shrink in inches while still gaining muscle weight.  This process takes time.  Unlike the high school boys in the gym who like to flex and claim, “l’ve put on 20 pounds of muscle in three months”.  Yeah no.  A good percentage of that is fat buddy.  It takes some serious commitment to weight training and a pristine diet (no Starbucks treats runs allowed) to just put on .25 pounds of pure muscle. That is not realty for many of us.  Slow and steady weight training before the onset of menopause is critical. 

Weight bearing exercise will help slow bone density loss that quickens in peri and menopausal women.  Weight bearing means carrying ones body weight in an activity. Walking, jogging, hiking are just the ticket.  Skip the pool and bike.  Standing for your weight training session counts too.  Challenge yourself and train while standing on a balance trainer.  Our balance also declines as we age.  Stop the madness!

Society loves to blame our mental states on all the “M” words. At least we have something to blame.   It is a fact that all those hormones affects your mental wellbeing, motivation and drive.  Exercise will help elevate this.  If you wait until you are at the lowest of your mental lows the battle is up hill. It’s kind of a vicious cycle.  Your depressed, tired and don’t want to workout.  Any sort of movement feels like you are pulling a mac truck along and you’d much rather self medicate with a cheese danish.  If you can conquer this battle before menopause sets in you will be ahead of the game and you will be rewarded with a mighty dose of endorphins: The thing that helps improve your mental state.  

A fitness program to battle the “M” word does not have to feel like boring slog or jail sentence.  “Treadmill, weights, stretching then home” even typed on a page sounds like a snooze.  Variety and excitement is the name of the game to help keep you engaged.  Kettlebell, TRX, balance training, yoga, sandbags sprinkled in with some outdoor adventures like paddling or hiking a 4000 footer could be your ticket to success. Don't make it routine.  Make it about learning and exploring. Fitness as a lifestyle will get you beyond the “M” word and possibly give you new ways to experience life in your 50's, 60's and later.

 

 

 

 

 
Peri-menopause symptoms can be felt as early as late 30’s . Women between the age of 30-40’s begin to lose .5-1% of bone density and muscle annually. Did I get your attention yet?
 
Don’t make your fitness routine. Make it about learning and exploring. Fitness as a lifestyle will get you beyond the “M” word and possibly give you new ways to experience life in your 50’s, 60’s and later.
IMG_1812.jpg

Do-over

IMG_1634.jpg

It’s that time of year when grand statements are made.  The type that should be announced from a gold thrown in a tall castle, “I shall not eat another sweet until Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet orbits around the Sun,” said in a resounding voice.  Yeah that would be six years.

For centuries we have been making New Year’s resolutions.  Believe it or not, this all started with ancient Babylonians in the month of March. It was partly done for the reaffirmation of loyalty to the king and partly to the gods. Fast forward a few centuries, mix in some war traditions from the Romans with some religious practices from western civilization and VOILA…every January we make proclamations for a new beginning. 

As a trainer and outdoor fitness specialist, I have a love/hate relationship with New Year’s resolutions.  I do like the concept of ‘wiping the slate clean’ and ‘starting over’. I just dislike the idea that it can only happen once a year. Whoever said you had to wait to the new year to start over and, well, REALLY try?  We are not perfect (yeah no kidding) and during our lives we move forward and backward. To wait a year to make a change seems crazy to me.  Have you ever seen the path to success?

Making grand statements that do not allow do-overs, set backs or no ‘get out of jail free’ card, will just cause disappointment.  Setting realistic resolutions with milestones that allow for set backs can make you feel like you ARE on that golden thrown in the castle. 

Weight loss and diet are one of the most common fitness resolutions that are uttered at the stroke of midnight before the new year.  And these certainly require reminders to achieve them.  Let’s face it, if it were easy we’d all look like super models. Here are some basic facts and reminders to help keep it real on your fitness journey in 2016.

  1. You are not an alien.  The general foundation for weight loss is the same for everyone.  You need to burn 3500 calories to lose a pound.  You can do this through diet and exercise.  Combine the two and you have more pound-losing power.  There are a ton of factors that can affect your weight loss - hormones, age, genetics, sleep, food, and exercise choices.  The key is keeping yourself honest and tracking your hard work.  If you like to fudge you will never know what really works for you.  Exercise and calorie counting apps can work wonders.  Some even reward your work with hard earned cash.  Now that is incentive right there.
     
  2. The average person loses anywhere from 1-2 pounds a week.  Some of my most successful clients only drop .5 pounds a week. A snails pace it may seem but loses add up quickly.  Big drops one week can be exciting but can mess with your mind when the scale doesn’t budge the following week.  The important thing here is, the scale is going down!  Keep in mind that it is possible to completely undo your hard work in one weekend of gluttony. You can step away from the donut now.
     
  3. Get out of that cardio jail FREE.  Spinning your wheels on the human habit trail treadmill or bike will only get you so far.  Adding muscle will increase your metabolism thus increasing your pound-losing power.  The more muscle you have, the more fat burning power your body has at a resting state - yep sign me up for that.   We lose 1% of our muscle mass per year after the age of 30, another important reason to lift weights.  The odds may seem like they are against us but if you start now, you will be further along in the fitness fight. 

The most important piece of fitness advice I can give out this time of year is be like a plant and seek the sunshine.  No one ever said that your fitness quest had to live inside a gym.  Fit for life is something I believe everyone can do but it means looking at your fitness journey differently. Not as a temporary place to be. If you loathe the gym and working out is a chore, then find a fitness passion you can weave into your life. Something you look forward to. Stand up paddling, trail running, rock climbing, hiking, winter mountaineering, snowshoeing, to just name a few. You don't need to be an expert either.  Everyone has to start somewhere.  Meet up groups, classes and beginner adventure trips could be the key to your fitness success.  All you need to do is step out side your comfort zone and try.  It could be the missing ingredient for your new years resolution success. 

In 2017 or 2018 if you find yourself needing a do-over, a change in direction or a serious shake up to keep you moving forward with your resolution, don't wait another year.  Change things up.  Pick new strategies.   Most importantly, mark that date on your calendar as your NEW personal New Year’s and wipe the slate clean.

Getting My Feet Wet with White Water SUP

"Forward momentum slows to a halt. Time out. Reset. If you can’t seem to get beyond the cloudy haze of dull routine in fitness or life, a new challenge or adventure could possibly shake you lose."