Gearing Up for Wellness

by MJ

If I told you there was an activity that would…
a) get your heart rate up,
b) get you “sweating and panting,”
c) was not only free, but SAVED you money, and
d) was super fun

…you’d think it was too good to be true, right?!

Well guess what folks… all it takes is hopping on your BICYCLE!

It helps that I live in a mild-weathered, bike friendly town, but I literally bike everywhere I need/want to go. For groceries, to yoga class, downtown for fun events, and to coffee shops to write brilliant articles like this one!

It feels great to sling everything I need onto my back and head out for the day. Not only are you getting your movement in covertly, but it saves a ton of money on gas if you can get into a consistent routine.

Granted, some days/nights, its harder to summon the motivation to bike when the car is sitting warm and pretty in the driveway, but I absolutely NEVER regret the decision to saddle up.

Enjoy the road from a new perspective today/this week! And always be sure to have your bike lights, helmets, and warm layers at the ready. Happy cycling!

Alternating Box Jumps

by admin

Grab a buddy.  This one is for sharing! You can do this on a wooden box as shown, or up on a ledge, porch, or stone wall.

  • Start with both feet on the ground in front of the box.
  • Jump on top of the box attaining full extension at the top (lock out your knees).
  • Jump or step back down and repeat, alternating with your partner.
  • Note: You may attain full extension of your body in the air after jumping off of the box as long as it is attained while your body is still over top of the box and not behind the box.

Clapping Pushups

by admin

  • At the top of your pushup place your hands just outside your shoulders, keep your arms locked out, stomach tight, butt tight, eyes looking 6 inches in front of you.
  • Lower your body until your chest touches the floor maintaining a rigid stomach and butt.
  • Press away from the floor, keeping your back flat and clap your hands.
  • Quickly catch yourself by replacing your arms into place and re-lowering yourself into another pushup.

Floor Wipers

by admin

You can do this movement with a barbell, a broom, a rake, or with nothing at all.

  • Lay on the ground with you lower back flat against the ground.
  • Hold the barbell steady up above your chest.
  • In a very controlled movement, lift your legs up off the ground.
  • Move your legs back and forth to your right and you left, using your core for stabilization.

Hand Stand Pushup

by admin

  • Perform a handstand against a wall with your hands just outside your shoulders, elbows locked, abs tight, feet together and press away from the floor
  • Bend your elbows and lower your body slowly until the top of your head touches the floor
  • Push your body back up until your elbows become locked at the top

Front Squat From Rack

by admin

If you don’t have a barbell or a rack, you can scale this movement by using anything from a broomstick to a backpack.

  • Start with a barbell in the rack position
  •  Keep your gaze forwards
  •  Lower your body into a squat focusing on maintaining a tall chest and elbows pointed upwards throughout the movement

Movement as a Nutrient

by admin

 

Critical Thinking:  Regular exercise is one component of being healthy – I need/want to exercise regularly.

Best Practices:  I work out every day (you only have to work out on the days you eat :) ).

Move or Die – Why Exercise is Essential
Want to be truly healthy?  Want to have boundless energy and avoid heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and senile dementia, not to mention obesity?  Well, it is now a scientific fact that to be healthy, to be “well,” you must exercise regularly.  It is no longer simply a luxury or for people who want to “be in shape” – the effect regular exercise has on your overall health is now known to be critical and essential for health and well being.  That’s why exercise must now be considered an essential element or required nutrient, not simply some form of therapeutic activity.  It should be thought of as important as breathing.

Exercise must be looked upon as an integral part of a complete health regimen (just like eating deep-fried food or smoking is part of a disease regimen).  For example, it’s been known for decades that regular exercise benefits the cardiovascular system, preventing heart attacks and high blood pressure.  Now, however, studies have also shown that women with breast cancer who exercised have a much greater survival rate compared to those with breast cancer who didn’t exercise.  The average person will read that and say “I don’t have breast cancer, so that doesn’t apply to me.” But what that study reveals is that exercise supports and enhances immune function – that’s why the women who exercised had three times the survival rate!

Although exercise, combined with proper dietary lifestyle practices, is a viable method of reversing many disease processes, the obvious conclusion is that we should all experience the benefit of an optimal functioning whole body physiology, which includes the immune system, by incorporating exercise into our daily and weekly regimen – as a priority, not “If my schedule allows it” or “Well, now that I’ve been diagnosed with XYZ condition, I better start getting in shape.”

Your Future Health Is Exercise-Dependent
Scientific evidence has proven that, combined with proper eating habits, regular exercise can prevent and even reverse diabetes.  Again, you may not have diabetes [5.3 million Americans have diabetes and don't know yet that they have it - The China Study, pg. 145], but do you see the inherent importance that exercise has on blood sugar and insulin regulation?

Want to avoid Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease?  That’s right – exercise!  Just as in the example described above involving diabetes, exercise combined with optimal, whole food nutrition high in fiber, phytonutrients and antioxidants from fresh organic fruits and vegetables, and sufficient Omega essential fatty acids from fish oil and flax oil has been found to be the best defense against the ravages of senile dementia.  Furthermore, none of those requirements listed previously can be substituted for another – we need the whole package:  exercise, proper dietary nutrients, rest, and a positive attitude.

And of course, last but not least – exercise is critical to avoiding obesity.  You knew that, right?  But did you also know that obesity is highly associated in causal effect with diabetes, cancer, and heart disease?

The Bottom Line:  exercise regularly to optimize your health and your life.  Or, then again you could choose to die an early, painful, and crippling death – the choice is yours!

Vital Behaviors:

• Get up earlier to allow time for a workout.
• Utilize your Bonfire Health workouts.
• Always take the stairs, park far away, walk to the mailbox.
• Bring lunch to work, eat at your desk after working out during lunch hour.
• Leave work on time and drive straight to the gym/health club (may require afternoon snack or snack on the way to gym (raw nuts and fruit).
• Schedule out/map out your week’s workouts (e.g. Mon:  bike ride; Tues:  swim; Wed:  Pilates class; Thurs:  run; Fri:  spin class; Sat:  yoga class; Sun:  core class, etc.).
• Join a gym, health club, or CrossFit; if that isn’t possible, then watch the Bonfire Video Coaching.

You can do it!

Week 8 Air Insight: Benefits of Movement

by admin

ESSENTIAL ELEMENT:  Neurological Benefits of Movement

Critical Concepts:  Lack of movement promotes stress.
There are many well-understood benefits of movement and activity, including improved cardiovascular health, weight loss, lean muscle mass and strength, balance, tone and appearance.  Science is now grasping the depth of the role of exercise in the realm of prevention of chronic diseases such as diabetes, CVD and obesity.  The latest research is now painting a broader picture for the benefits of movement in the realm of neurology, development and optimal health.

The primary purpose of movement and activity is to develop and condition the brain (Dr. John J. Ratey, Spark).

Our nervous system is an incredibly complex network of communication fibers and junctions that allow us to relate and adapt to our internal and external environments.  The nervous system, made up of the brain, the spinal cord and miles of nerves, depends on movement to restore the body to homeostasis – or a state of general balance and equilibrium.

This resting state is critical to health and healing.  Our lives have become frantic.  We rush through our days, seemingly never having enough time to complete tasks, slow down to eat, or relax and unwind.  So often we are stressed out in traffic or sitting in front of a computer or on the phone.  Most people spend far too much time in the “Go State” – fight or flight.  This constant Sympathetic Stress State keeps stress hormones coursing through our veins, wreaking havoc on our health.

One vital function of movement is its ability to “re-set” our nervous system from a “stress state” to a “rest and repair” state.

The cerebellum is the area of the brain that monitors movement.  The “body sense” that is derived from movement is called proprioception.  This body sense provides more data to our brain than all of our other incoming senses combined.  It is described by Nobel Prize Winner Roger Sperry as a brain nutrient.  The information is derived from the compression of spring-like mechanoreceptors in your joints.  When you move, they send signals to your brain.

This cerebella stimulation from movement of our joints will actually drive the body away from a stress state and back toward a rest and repair state.  This critical homeostatic mechanism is responsible for returning your body to a state of equilibrium.  In other words, movement reduces stress.

Lack of movement promotes stress.

If you live a sedentary life, you miss out on this effective “stress-buster.”  People who exercise regularly report less stress in their lives and experience fewer stress-related health problems.  Exercise has the additional benefits of increasing neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) that promote happiness, better sleep and increased sex drive.

Poor posture and fixed positions can create stress in the body.  Toxic and deficient movement patterns promote core weakness, muscle strain, inflammation and structural dysfunction.  When joints do not move properly, they create irritation to the nervous system that acts a lot like “static” or noise in our communication network.  This noxious stimulation or nociception changes the brain’s function and influences the body’s chemistry.  This type of joint dysfunction and associated nerve irritation is called “subluxation.”

Subluxations can occur in any joint, but the most devastating are found in the joints of the spine.  These spinal misalignments can be caused by trauma or bad habits (or both), and their ill effects on your health can be profound.  A distinctive quality of subluxation is joint fixation.  When a joint is fixed or “stuck” and not moving through its normal range of motion, a host of problems can arise.  Joint decay and degeneration (arthritis) occurs when a joint is not moving properly.  If a joint is fixated, proprioception (Body Sense) is reduced and nociception (noise) is increased – both of which promote stress in the body.

Healthy people practice regular spinal hygiene by utilizing the Life Extension Exercises.  A Bonfire best practice is to implement these into your daily routine to combat stationary work and postural stress.  Best results are achieved if you do this one-minute routine at least once every two hours at the computer or work station.  Nudge yourself into better habits by auditing your workstation for postural stress (read more here).  Make it a regular habit to get up and walk during your day.  It is very unnatural for you to sit for extended periods of time – no matter how important the project.  Dr. James Chestnut suggests a brilliant nudge: position yourself perfectly while sitting at the wheel in your car and then adjust your mirrors.  If you slouch during your drive, the mirrors will remind you to sit up.

A vital behavior for optimal health and function is to have your spine and nervous system evaluated regularly by a qualified chiropractor.  These doctors have a unique training and specialization in locating and correcting spinal misalignments that contribute to spinal stress.  This safe and effective method has been practiced widely for over one hundred years, and is now the second largest form of health care in the world.

Your brain and body expect and require movement for health – for life.  Get to it.

Summary Checklist

  • Add activity every day in every way
  • Calculate Energy Balance
  • Add Functional Training
  • Use variety in your workouts
  • Focus on the Intensity of your workouts
  • Gradually progress to a higher intensity
  • Adopt the Buddy System
  • Get your Spine checked by a chiropractor

Week 1 Air Insight: Movement As A Nutrient

by admin

ESSENTIAL ELEMENT:  Movement as a Nutrient

Critical Concept:  Exercise is not a luxury – it’s an essential nutrient
You have inherited an incredible genetic legacy.  One thing is for sure – you are the direct descendent of successful human beings.  The definition of success here is, of course, someone who survives long enough to reproduce.  Your genetic make-up can be thought of as a microscopic, “cellular blue print” for your health potential.  Your genes were shaped over thousands of generations by environmental pressures and the choices that your ancestors made in order to adapt and survive these challenges.  Not only was an active lifestyle a trait that all successful human beings had in common, but it is a critical concept to think of movement as a nutrient - just like water or hydration is critical to all aspects of cellular function, movement is an essential elementfor health. It’s not simply about “being in shape.”

If your ancestors didn’t move, they didn’t eat.  In fact, if they didn’t move, they were eaten.  Early man lived an incredibly demanding lifestyle – hunting, gathering, fishing, defending; life was active.  This genetic legacy that we’ve inherited expects and requires an extraordinary level of movement.  In fact, genetic experts agree that our genome has remained nearly unchanged over the last ten thousand years, yet our lifestyles today are nearly unrecognizable to the world that shaped them.

When was the last time you chased down your lunch?  And we don’t mean with a diet soda.  Did you fetch water today?  Build a shelter or collect wood?  In all of man’s history, there has always been an intimate relationship between energy acquisition and energy consumption (read:  getting food and eating food).  Today this is far from the case.  In the modern world there has been a divorce between securing calories (finding food) and consuming calories (eating food).  This has created a devastating energy imbalance that has led to an obesity epidemic that is at the root of our world’s chronic illness crisis.  At the epicenter of the chronic disease epidemic is a lack of regular movement as part of our lifestyle.

Your Paleolithic Stone Age hunter-gatherer ancestors never had the option of sitting down at a restaurant and ordering a nutritious dinner off of a menu – never mind driving up to a take-out window and have someone throw a bag of fast food into their car.  This lack of calorie-burning activities such as hunting and foraging has been compounded by the toxic and deficient food choices that we make.  This “disconnect” between our active genetic design and our current sedentary lifestyle is killing us.

Bottom Line:  Your cells require and expect movement to be healthy.

Our ancestors did not work out; they did not “exercise” – their existence was exercise.  This is not the case with us.  We must supplement our comparatively sedentary, movement-deficient modern lifestyles with exercise and activity.  The first place to start is to add activity to every area of your regular life. Best Practices include: taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking to school, or biking to work.  Parking your car as far away from your destination as time allows is a vital behavior.  Remember, research shows that all activity is cumulative; it all adds up.  In other words, three ten minute walks are the energy equivalent of one thirty minute walk – so get to it!

Vitamin F – FUN!

by admin

In the same way that it is much easier to eat things that have pleasing flavors, and to think about things that create good feelings, movement requirements are much easier met when supplemented with Vitamin F – FUN!  With the right choice of activity, feelings of achievement and a general sense of increased physical wellness can be immediate results making the effort much more play than work.

As it is with all preferences, the definition of “fun” is as varied as the people who define it.  What matters in terms of effectiveness is that the means of acquiring the essential element of movement is appealing to the person engaging in the activity.  As two-time World Cup downhill champion and Olympic gold medalist Picabo Street shares with SUCCESS Magazine, fun is a primary factor in maintaining commitment and deriving the most benefit from movement:  “If you’re procrastinating about working out, then whatever you’re doing isn’t working for you.  You need to check into something different.”

Here are ten ideas for injecting Vitamin F into our pursuit of fitness from the BeachBody.com newsletter:

• Try something new
• Play a sport
• Get a buddy
• Get the whole family involved
• Go dancing
• Use an MP3 player
• Bedroom athletics
• Shop it up
Fitness vacations
• Share your wisdom

In addition to helping us to improve the shape, composition, and performance of our bodies in an enjoyable way, acquiring our daily essential element of movement through fun and play offers more than physical benefit – it’s part of our stress-coping arsenal and helps us to manage the less-than-enjoyable aspects of life.  Suzanne Nottingham, in an October 2006 cover story in Parks & Recreation listing many benefits of play as a means of exercise, learning, and development at any stage of life, states that “Play is essential to health and wellness.  When an activity is enjoyable, adherence is the by-product.  Pleasurable activities stimulate the nervous system, which affects your physiology.”

Exercise machines, personal trainers, free weights, run buddies, WODs (Workout Of the Day), yoga instructors, hockey games, kickball, and long stretches of sunlit beach are all examples of tools we can use to administer our daily dose of movement.  Which will work best depends purely on which delivers the maximum Vitamin F in the time and resources allotted, and is subject to personal preference.

We know we need it – it’s time for us to get away from forcing WORKouts, and get to enjoying our PLAYouts!  Let’s get moving and have some FUN doing it!