Why your sorry-a** posture needs thoracic spine/upper back extension today: one simple stretch to help you out

People say they just love me because I am so positive.

I can still write headlines that aren’t so fuzzy and friendly though! See above. Bahah!

Do you suffer from poor posture, pain in your spine, pain in your upper back, pain in your shoulders?

I’m only writing this because I care. Most of your friends and family won’t tell you that your posture sucks. Okay, maybe your mom will tell you to sit up straight, but most people believe that posture is your own responsibility.

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Upper back/Thoracic spine extension and stretching at home on a foam roller

I’m here to help.

Be aware of the stability-mobility continuum.

In general, the neck should be stable, the upper back should be mobile, the lower back should be stable, the hips should be mobile, the knees should be stable, and the ankles should be mobile.

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Mobility/Stability continuum

The above statement is definitely a generality, but it applies to most people in the general population so it does have use.

By following these basic principles, a fitness professional can prescribe targeted exercises and stretches for an individual in need of optimal function.

Some people need to cure their bad posture, others are already wrecking their joints by exercising with poor form.

Here’s an example. If you are constantly performing back exercises with shrugged shoulders, over time it will probably end up stressing your joints. You need to be able to control the scapula by retracting and depressing the shoulder blade when appropriate.

Exercising with poor posture is like driving a car with axles and wheels out of alignment: it’s only going to work for so long until it breaks down.

Aside from the fact that good posture promotes a healthy self esteem and people respond better to you when you exhibit good posture, you also need to perform your exercises with good posture otherwise you’re not making the situation any better.

Our joints have a lifespan and you can increase the lifespan of your joints by exercising in good posture. Additionally, you can increase the lifespan of your joints by having training that promotes muscular balance and offers enough time for recovery.

(Related: Subscribe to my YouTube)

The healthy spine solution:

It CAN be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s the general idea to support a healthy spine…

  1. Train your glutes hard (glute bridge, weighted barbell hip bridge, single leg glute bridge, rear foot elevated split squat aka bench static lunge aka bulgarian split squat, single leg deadlift, barbell deadlifts, dumbbell deadlifts, barbell squats, goblet squats, etc.)
  2. Train your abdominals hard (TRX Pike, TRX knee tuck, ab dolly knee tuck, ab wheel rollout, reverse crunches, turkish get up, etc)
  3. Mobility in the upper back (upper back extension on the foam roller, upper back stretches on your chair, upper back stretch on the stability ball, upper back bends in yoga, etc)

These three keys will do WONDERS for your body. Moreover, you can also go ahead and stretch your hip flexors and other tight areas that relate to the hip. On top of that, perform some ankle mobility drills and strengthen your tibialis anterior and posterior and then you’re good to go!

Say hello to good posture forever

EVERYBODY has seen an elderly person with a horrible kyphotic posture that just makes you wonder how that even happened. Well, the truth is that they probably never performed upper back exercises and upper back extensions. As a result, their backs became hunched, which can lead to damages down the chain.

Upper back rigidity can lead to lower back pain

Everything in the kinetic chain is linked. You really need to address your posture from a holistic standpoint. If you have chronic lower back pain, it’s quite possible that it is linked to tightness of the upper back. Obviously I can’t prescribe for you through this blog, but it is worth being aware of for when you visit with a healthcare provider or fitness professional.

Take care of your body so that you can life a long, healthy and high quality life.

I don’t think you get more than one life, so make it count. You’d be surprised what happens when you start taking care of yourself.

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If you’re convinced, then buy a foam roller on Amazon today.

 

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How to Lose 40 lbs in 8 weeks: Celebrating Orangetheory Fitness Seattle Weight Loss Challenge Winners 2017

How committed are you to lifestyle change?

While weight loss is the goal for many people, I truly like to emphasize the many reasons and benefits for lifestyle change in itself. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: when people lose a ton of weight, the valuable part isn’t the fact that they lost weight — instead the most valuable part is that these individuals were able to change their habits and challenge their discipline day in and day out.

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Orangetheory Fitness Seattle, Lower Queen Anne’s Winter 2017 Weight Loss Challenge Winners and some of our coaches

 

 

 

Every Body is capable of healthy changes, both inside and out.

Even though the human body can be seemingly complex at times, the formula is simple.

Step 1: Eat Nutrient Dense Foods

Step 2: Get 8 hours of sleep

Step 3: Have an active lifestyle and cultivate an athletic mindset no matter what level coordination you have.

The most challenging aspect of lifestyle change are the thoughts that go on inside your head. That’s why I believe it is fundamental to surround yourself with encouraging, positive, and motivating people who share some layer of goals with you.

You can definitely lose 30-40 lbs in eight weeks by exercising and working out with me.

On the flip side, you could also work out all of the time and still not lose any weight if the nutritional habits are poor. It’s just a fact of the matter that you cannot out-train a bad diet. Workouts are challenging and often give immediate gratification and sense of accomplishment once the workout is complete, yet your nutritional habits are responsible for the vast majority of your results.

Nutrition is responsible for all human biological function and linked strongly to gene expression as well as the state of your human ecosystem (read: trillions of bacteria cells that live in and on us).

As I mentioned earlier in this post, every body is capable of fat loss. There are genes that regulate how much fat you can lose and how fast you can burn that fat so yes every body is different in that regard. However, we are learning more and more that certain foods (nutrient dense foods) are actually able to increase the gene expression of genes which are responsible for fat loss. You are not limited by your genetics as much as you are limited by your mind. You must challenge your limiting beliefs about food so that you can cultivate a lifestyle which supports healthy nutritional habits as part of your core values.

Moreover, for your biological processes to be in a healthy, functioning state, you must digest healthful, nutrient-dense foods on a regular basis. Food contains lots of nutrients like vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, amino acids, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and other currently undiscovered components which likely support human health. I know this, because I know that which I do not know. The wisdom of nature must be valued, so let thy food be thy medicine. Hundreds of thousands of years of human knowledge should be honored. Millions of years of evolution suggests that plants are good for us and chemicals (aka processed foods) are not. I’m sure there are parts of an apple that are good for us that science will never discover, and that’s okay. Don’t overthink it.

Of course you need to decrease your calories in order to achieve weight loss.

That doesn’t mean that you should allow yourself to fall into a dangerous mindset of restriction. I 100% believe that healthy nutritional habits are far more realistic to sustain when you are able to have an abundance mentality. You literally have an abundance of healthy food options if you are willing to be creative and seek knowledge. Never settle.

In our modern era, we have access to more nutrients than even our paleo ancestors. The difference between paleo ancestors and ourselves is that we seem to have become burdened by choice. Even worse, there are multi-billion dollar corporations which prefer to mislead us through advertising and through government lobbying and these groups certainly do not have our best interests in mind.

Here is your challenge: Get the MOST amount of nutrients with the fewest calories.

If you eat the most nutrient dense foods, then you will always have an abundance of food that fills you up, energizes you, and gets you ready for a successful tomorrow.

Nutrient density = the highest amount of overall nutrient value for the lowest amount of caloric value.

When I think of nutrients I think of:

  • Fiber (Try to get at least 30 grams per day which is the government recommendation to reduce risk of colon cancer. Fiber also helps to maintain healthy blood sugar / diabetes management, also insulin senstivity and feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut… of course all of these things are related to fat loss and health).
  • Protein
  • Saturated fats like Medium Chain Triglycerides (coconut oil source)
  • Omega-3 fatty acid
  • Omega-9 fatty acid, some Omega-6 fatty acid
  • Water
  • Major minerals (like calcium/magnesium)
  • Trace Minerals (browse Amazon, best minerals product)
  • Antioxidants (red, yellow, purple, blue, green, orange)
  • Phytonutrients (natural components that support healthy hormones, we are learning how broccoli/b-sprouts/cabbage/cauliflower helps fight cancer)
    • Sidenote: If you can support a healthy immune system and gut function, you’ll likely be able to burn more fat and be able to train harder, thereby making even more fitness gains
  • Anti-inflammatory compounds (often these are antioxidants, such as those found in tart cherries, leafy green vegetables, herbs like ginger/turmeric/garlic).
  • Probiotic potential or live probiotics (pre-biotic foods like foods high in fiber that feed healthy gut bacteria or actual live probiotics found in raw sauerkraut and real kefir)
  • Various types of acids that are health promoting like Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Cardiovascular supporting compounds (I love beets because they are packed with nutrients despite containing natural sugars. Beets are a nutrient powerhouse that act as a methyl donor to support the remethylation of homocysteine, something that most people will never learn about — but basically is crucial for healthy cardio and managing risk of ever having a heart attack or stroke.)
  • Enzymes — even though our bodies can create enzymes, our ability to do so decreases as we age. A prominent doctor in Japan argues for a sort of mythical “source enzyme” that once is depleted, then we die. So you must eat foods that support healthy enzyme production (such as the foods listed above). Additionally, you can also eat foods that contain active enzymes which are raw foods and raw probiotic foods. Cooking and the heating process tends to kill enzymes (even though cooking does release/enhance other nutrients), so you still want to get some raw food and raw probiotic food in your diet. Related: Top Probiotic Food / supplements
  • I’m sure there are other nutrients to consider, these are just the considerations that come to the top of my head when I’m choosing foods to eat mindfully.

The key is to educate yourself because you’ll find yourself making better choices simply by having a better foundation of knowledge.

Knowledge truly is power. I encourage you to read about the benefits of real, natural foods and I also encourage you to read about the harmful effects of processed, junk, sweets, etc even if it is uncomfortable to read about. Take time in your day to follow my blog, and/or follow other trustworthy sources online or otherwise.

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

Growing up, my father would always say, “everything in moderation.” I believed in that phrase for a while, but now I realize that there are some things that you should simply never do or never have. And that’s okay. Some things are just. not. worth it.

The important point is that you are caring about yourself in your lifestyle. If you have to be 100% on and then when you fall off you go food binge and drink, then that says that maybe you’re an on again off again type person who isn’t willing to be committed to themselves. Let yourself have a lifestyle that allows for mistakes, forgiveness, and moving forward.

If you think that you have to be on a restrictive diet to be successful, then why aren’t you successful yet? If it has worked for you in the past, but only temporarily, then did it really work for you? I want you to engage in thought processes that allow for long term success.

Sometimes your thoughts will come crashing inside like waves in a storm and that’s when you just need to hunker down and care for yourself, otherwise you’re going to drown. Those are the hard times.

Other times, your thoughts will be like an oasis in the desert where you think everything is just perfection, but maybe it is just a mirage? Those are even harder times because it forces you to face the truth: Sometimes you have to stay hungry. And that’s okay too. But if you’re planning your meals properly, then you’ll have nutrient dense food waiting for you around the next corner.

How much do you really care about yourself?

We all have struggles. I just need you to take a moment to think about all of the actions that you take on a daily basis that demonstrate self-care. When you are mindful, when you plan for success, and when you surrender your entitlement, then you will find yourself in a whole new reality of empowerment.

Love is action. Good luck, my people! Stay tuned for more, subscribe to my brand new YouTube channel and click that Follow Blog button on the top left (show sidebar for mobile users).

17 Random Thoughts about Fitness, Health, and Nutrition by Dre

Here are some random thoughts, in no particular order about relevant fitness related topics.

It’s not even 7PM as I begin writing this and I’m already thinking about getting myself ready to coach people at 4:45 AM tomorrow. But first, 17 random thoughts…

1. You should really make an effort to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth.

Nasal breathing increases the respiratory system’s ability to warm and humidity the inspired air compared to oral breathing and reduces the drying and cooling effects of the increased ventilation during exercise. (Pubmed)

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Sometimes we need a reminder to be intentional with our breathing. I’ve experienced in Yoga practice, we are much more intentional with our breathing than a cardio class. Seems almost counter-intuitive that high intensity workout participants aren’t focusing on their breathing.

2. Breathing is one element that separates the novice from the elite.

Many people have muscles and strength and decent work capacity for a short period of time until they run out of breath. The problem is that they only start thinking about breathing when they are already out of breath and then it’s too late. Why? The muscles are starved.

I always start my intentional breathing moments before engaging in high intensity exercise. As I take in the air through my nose, I’m also visualizing myself succeeding in the upcoming task and then I’ll exhale my doubt and GO!

I ran a 4:56 minute mile for the first time in my life and it was due to nose breathing.

3. People always talk about how sex burns calories but I can think of a lot better reasons to do it.

I’ll stick to high intensity interval training and weight lifting for my calorie burn thank you very much!

I prefer Barbell Hip Thrusts anyway, the iron will always be there for me and weightlifting will make me hard like steel.

4. Almost every person I know has low/sub-optimal levels of Vitamin D.

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vitamin d weight loss

Vitamin D is essential for bone density, hormone metabolism, immune system, brain health, breast, prostate and so much more. Do yourself a favor and get some high potency Vitamin D from Amazon A.S.A.P.

5. Cheat days are a trap!

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I’m still trying to figure out what the hell is a cheat day?! Is that a day that you decide you’re done caring for yourself? Is that a day where you decide you don’t matter? Are you just going to slap a label on it and go to town?

Look, I’m all for being reasonable and going out and doing things. I eat Mexican food. I love sushi. I went to Las Vegas.

There’s no way I’m going to put a label on my day and call it a “cheat day.” That’s because when I am true to myself, I have nothing to cheat on.

I don’t have a cheat day because I realize that life will go on and all we have is this present moment. I’m not going to be the type of person who is off again and then on again and then off again.

If I go off track, then I forgive myself and choose the path forward. I can’t always see where I’m going. I will, however, stay authentic to my core values and manifest discipline whenever I have the strength to allow it!

6. Cheat meals are meant for bodybuilders and people who want to go on stage and show their bodies, not for regular people.

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I notice how trends from the hardcore fitness people then find their way into the mainstream. Regular people DO NOT NEED CHEAT MEALS. The reason is because regular people should not be dieting period. Is that controversial to say?

99% of people in America just need to adopt an attitude of mindful eating and make an effort to plan their meals around nutrient dense foods. Maybe you should take it a step forward and plan your day around nutrient dense foods as well. Again, we’re not dieting because that is restrictive.

I want all of us to be able to live a life of abundance — we should eat colorful, fresh foods that are high in fiber, protein, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, probiotics, and other currently undiscovered nutrients that likely benefit human health and well being.

7. Alcohol is the number one reason why you’re not leaner than you are.

This is a generalization and for people with non-alcohol sweet tooth (or potato-chip-aholics) this may not hold true for you.

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Everybody knows that alcohol is calorie dense. Alcohol actually has more calories per gram than both carbohydrates and protein. In addition to being calorie dense, most people neglect to understand that even moderate amounts of alcohol are toxic to the internal organs.

Here’s a shortlist of why alcohol prevents you from burning fat:

  • Stresses out the kidneys and liver so that your organs are no longer in a fat burning mode.
  • Weakens insulin sensitivity which encourages more food/energy to be stored in the fat cells instead of in the muscle cells (or burned off).
  • Causes inflammation in the gut, which tends to create a gut environment that favors the bad bacteria instead of the good bacteria. Research indicates that obesity is strongly related to the type, ratio, and volume of bacteria in your stomach.
  • Also increases overall systemic inflammation by stressing out/weakening the immune system. Research indicates that all disease must occur in a state of inflammation — so many diseases such as cancer are brought upon by lifestyle choices (read: more than 7 drinks a week and more than 1 drink per day are bad).
  • Hurts your sleep and recovery. You wake up feeling like sh*t and your subsequent workout will be weaker or maybe you’ll be lazy and not do anything at all.
  • Higher cortisol/stress hormone caused by alcohol consumption may lead you to make poor choices about food the next day. 

Wow, I could keep going. Just educate yourselves please. I know alcohol is the most common and socially acceptable drug out there. I know it makes socializing more fun. I also know that there are more ways to socialize, communicate, and grow community that don’t need to involve alcohol.

8. I still drink sometimes.

I’m not sober, but I can go a month without drinking and it’s not a big deal. I am mindful and realize that everything has risks. That being said, I limit myself to about 2-6 drinks maximum per week.

If you take somebody out for drinks, I feel like two drinks is the sweet spot anyway.

9. I still know how to party.

Okay I guess that’s not something to be proud of necessarily. I’m just saying that I can add a lot of value to the party and am a good person to know.

10. Please don’t ask me to go drink with you.

I’ll never drink just to drink. That’s why I ask that you don’t ask me to go drink with you.

Here are the circumstances that I’ll drink usually:

  • On vacation (preferably exotic / beach location)
  • With my brothers, because they are family and always will be.
  • If a very attractive woman asked me, but they never ask me. They wait till I ask them.
  • Birthday party, or career celebration party, weddings, or other special type of event (especially if it’s on a rooftop).
  • Did I miss anything? If you saw me drink or if you drank with me, post in the comments below.
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On a really warm Sunday Funday, a couple cold beers and kickball!

11. I wish I was an owner/investor in Halo Top Ice Cream.

All I know is that Halo Top is taking my friends money like crazy. I wish I had stake in that company because I’d be rich.

For the record, I don’t like to eat ice cream more than a few times per year (I could count on my two hands).

Ice cream reminds me of my teens during a time in which I hated my body and also ate a lot of ice cream. I ate candy and so much ice cream and I just hated the way I felt about myself.

I don’t judge you for eating it, but I still think ice cream should be reserved for special occasions only.

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Even Halo Top still has added sugar. I’d rather get my sugar naturally from pomegranate seeds and cherries and blueberries. WAY more antioxidants than Halo Top and no sugar alcohols.

12. I just started my YouTube channel, won’t you subscribe?

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKA1Lz-JAxg4ob7qGo3syGw

Most recent video:

13. Most people don’t eat enough vegetables.

This one is pretty obvious. I have worked one on one with hundreds of people now with their nutrition so I’ve learned A LOT about what people actually eat. I also peak into people’s shopping choices when I’m in the mood.

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Vegetables simply aren’t glamorous or exciting (but they are beautiful). There are lots of benefits for vegetables though:

  • Leafy green veggies promote healthy hormones.
  • Vegetables contain life-promoting and anti-aging antioxidants
  • Many veggies create a gut environment conducive to healthy bacteria, which is very important for digestion, immune system, and of course fat loss.
  • Vegetables can literally turn the “ON” switch for the fat burning hormone known as adiponectin.

I could go on. It really doesn’t matter whether you’re just trying to be healthy and feel better or if you want to see your abs for the first time in your life, You. Need. Vegetables!

14. You probably eat a poor ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 Fatty Acids.

I am big on fatty acids. It is known that consuming too many bad fats will wreck your immune system and clog up your cells. Of course partially hydrogenated oils aka trans fats have gotten lots of press for being bad and that’s true. Try not to eat those.

However, there are “Essential” fats known as Omega-6 fatty acids that are only known as “Essential” because you have to get them from diet. The problem is that Omega-6 fatty acids are extremely prevalent in our diet and now we have run into the situation of having too much of a good thing.

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The harm of having too much Omega-6 fatty acids in your diet is that it increases levels of inflammation in the body. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I’m big on inflammation because disease only exists in a state of inflammation. Aside from trying to prevent cancer, inflammation also matters because high levels of inflammation cause stress on the body and make it VERY challenging to burn fat and get a lean body.

15. Unless you eat Wild Alaskan salmon twice per week, you need more Omega-3’s in your life NOW.

Do yourself a favor and get some Nordic Naturals Omega-3 on Amazon now.

Omega-3 Benefits include: heart health, bone health, eye health, brain health, fat loss, insulin sensitivity, pancreatic health, liver health, kidney health, reproductive organ health, skin health.

Ya follow? Time to up your omega-3.

16. You probably need more flexibility in your upper back, and more stability in your lower back.

Flexibility in your upper back: Thoracic spine extensions, Yoga mountain pose into a back bend, having better posture during the day.

Stability in your lower back: Lower back exercises like bosu back extensions, core exercises like bird dog, dead bug, TRX pike/knee tuck, Turkish Get Up, and Glute exercises like bridges, thrusts, squats, deadlifts.

17. I’m not convinced that marijuana is the best sleep aid.

Even though marijuana can promote some deep sleep, it does disrupt the REM cycle and I’m not sure that’s a good thing. I know a lot of people in Seattle use marijuana for sleep purposes. I would like to nudge you in the direction of other things.

First, maybe you can try quiet time, meditation, or yoga. Maybe stretch lightly in the evening, turn off all artificial light except some soft red light and listen to relaxing music.

Second, maybe you have a nutrient deficiency that you don’t know about. Poor sleep could be linked to a number of nutrient deficiencies. Magnesium and other trace minerals are involved in so many processes in the body, yet even “healthy” diets fall very short of the recommended daily allowance. Especially if you exercise often, drink alcohol occasionally, and have a low calorie diet, it’s EASY to become DEFICIENT in some nutrients.

My favorite Magnesium supplement is called Trace Minerals and it is a GAME CHANGER, let me say. It relaxes the body and basically cures muscle cramping immediately.

Third, perhaps you should try small doses of melatonin or other relaxing herbs such as chamomile, Valerian root, holy basil, and ashwaganda.

These are just some things to consider! Educate yourselves and never stop learning. I go to bed around 8PM on four nights per week so I know a thing or two about getting to sleep. 1-3 milligrams of Melatonin does it for me and I make sure to get 200-400mg of magnesium every day.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

I feel that we’re really heading somewhere powerful and even though this blog has been around for some time, we’re about to take off! Leave a comment below!