Got Strength?

If you do, you can have more balance … literally!

Two years ago, I suffered random nerve damage in my right arm/shoulder. This rocked my world and turned it upside down, both physically and emotionally. I could no longer pull up my pants or brush my teeth. To make matters worse, I was struggling with the idea that I could be sitting at my desk in my office, and part of my body just stop working for no apparent reason! The physical pain was immediate and intense and I took pain meds every day for more than a year. The accumulated emotional trauma was pretty significant as well.

After many specialists over 18 months and nearly as many opinions about what was wrong, nerve tests finally returned positive/normal. The nerves had healed on their own over time. The only problem was, I still couldn’t move my arm! Having not used it for such a long period, the muscles had withered away and my shoulder was “frozen.”

I was referred for physical therapy for nearly four months and was able to regain my motion, and started regain strength (and confidence). Now I’m working with a personal trainer at the local YMCA, and my right arm is getting stronger and I’m beginning to believe that it will catch back up to my left arm. After nearly two years, I’m feeling better than I have in a very long time. I don’t remember the last time I took pain meds, and I am beginning to sleep better at night. Life is becoming more balance, and I can use my arm again!

Here’s why:

Because… I can put my pants on without falling over (you know you are curious)!

Aside from gaining Hulk type strength and some semblance of emotional balance, my actual balance is back, too. And I suppose I didn’t even realize I had lost it. While rebuilding the muscles in my arm, my trainer is also working on core strength and lower body strength. The loss of my overall strength was gradual and invisible. I’m sure it started to fade away long before the nerve trauma to my arm. After two months with the personal trainer, I realized one day that I was putting on my clothes without leaning against my bed to keep from falling over. It was like, whoop one leg in, whoop other leg in and on to the next task to get ready for the day. Even though we do not work on specific balance exercises every week, the increased strength in my core and legs has helped improved my overall balance. Long story, I know. But I am amazed at how overall weak I had become. And I didn’t realize how weak I was until medical treatment prompted me to regain some strength! So, a by-product of my arm recovery is that I can put my pants on without falling over, and it’s always good to stay On Your Feet!

Because… now I walk faster!

In the past, when walking with my friends, I was a few (or 20) steps behind. They would always wait for me to catch up, but we would quickly get separated again. Recently I was out of town visiting friends. Surprisingly, I was the leader of the pack, waiting for them to catch up with me! I was in an unfamiliar place, but I was walking through that place like I owned the joint! The increased strength has also improved my stride, stamina and speed.

Because… strength training helps you do more than just pick things up and put them down.

Strength training has many other benefits besides gaining muscles. It helps you have a better frame of mind with increased confidence. You have more energy to devote to decision making and spending time with family and friends. You sleep better at night and wake up easier in the morning. Your overall health and immunity improves.

Because… now I think I am a badass because I can do a one-legged squat (don’t mess with me)!

Can you?

Do you incorporate strength training into your workout routine? What are some of your favorite strength building activities?

Got Routine?

Use routine to create positive habits and reach short term goals

Do you wake up in the morning with no expectations for your day and the activities that you will be engaged in? Let’s say you have a short term goal to lose 8-10 pounds over the next month. By creating routine, you can set yourself up for success. Make the decision, determine the steps it will take and get stubborn about creating a daily routine that will accomplish your goal.

I was able to lose 60 pounds in about 10 months by creating routine in my food patterns. The biggest tool that helped me was a daily journal where I had checklists and I recorded my daily experiences and moods. I met regularly with a registered dietitian.

Here’s why:

Because… the more times you start over or take steps back, the longer it will take to get to where you want.

When you decide you are going to start this diet and then start that diet you are causing confusion not only for you, but also for your body. Your body fights losing anything because it is not sure what it will take in tomorrow.

It is better to think about your way of eating and doing that every day instead of doing this diet or that diet. Diets don’t last so it’s better to just set a routine way of eating (what you eat, how often you eat, what your habits are when you eat). The longer you go, the easier it gets.

Because… the more times you do something, the easier it gets and you can do it without thinking!

Nothing is easy the first time you do it. Practice makes perfect! The more times you eat certain foods, drink a certain amount of water, or get up and hit the treadmill, the easier it gets. In the beginning you will be saying to yourself “ugh I don’t want to,” but after a couple weeks you find yourself doing it without a second thought. You may even feel worse if you are not in your routine!

Because… it makes meeting goals easier and more attainable.

This process can be applied to all short term goals. By the end of a calendar year, 12 positive habits can be formed, and you will be closer to reach some of your long term goals. Long term goals are accomplished by succeeding in smaller steps each day/week.

What are your daily health and fitness routines? How do you track your goals? I use the “Trello” app on my phone to set my daily routines, and then just check activities off the list once complete.