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Recent blog posts
The Journey Toward Better Health: Choosing the Right Path.

At the beginning of each new year the fitness industry bombards us with quick fixes, challenges, cleanses, magic potions and get your ass in shape fast programming that would crush an elite athlete on day one. There are promotions, offers, specials and deals promising instant salvation from the many years of a sedentary lifestyle, poor dietary selections and prioritizing life choices to include everything except one's physical wellness. Faced with declining health, rising health care expenses and poor functional capacity, many will get sucked into this emotional vortex of hope. They may lose a few pounds, hang with the program for a few months and then quickly find themselves in the junkyard of dysfunctional fitness, injured, frustrated, burned out and with less money in their wallets than when they started.

 

This brings me to the article below by Dr. Steven Devor, written earlier this month for Fleet Feet's Movement and No Boundaries program. While it targets their program, the message is clear regarding the process. Well worth a read regardless of what program you chose to transform your life. If you are not willing to institute a fundamental shift in your thoughts and behaviors, the chances of long-term success are very low.

 

Recently I have been thinking a great deal about the group of people enrolled in both The Movement and our No Boundaries programs. I know for many of you the primary reasons for being involved in one of the two programs are the combined goals of weight loss and improved health.

 

When you recognize and accept that it may very likely encompass more than a year to accomplish your goal of healthy and sustained weight loss, the proposition can seem overwhelming. However, you have support. All of us involved in The Movement and No Boundaries are fortunate to be working with you at the very beginning of your journey. What I hope you will accept is that this is not about a diet, or a short-term fix. This is the beginning of your lifestyle modification, a new healthy direction.

 

We know from research that many individuals faced with the sometimes seemingly insurmountable task of weight loss become defeated and give up before they even allow themselves to really try. It just seems so far off, so far down the road. And if you have experienced frustration or are not meeting your goals, I believe you need to be honest with yourself and ask a few hard questions. Is this something you really want to achieve? Are you truly and fully committed to doing this? Are you doing everything you can to achieve your goal?

 

There is one piece of advice I would offer each of you. Those that are attempting to responsibly lose weight, who are consistently engaged in that struggle. I believe you need to immediately stop concerning yourselves, filling your heads with worry, about what it is you will do tomorrow or next week to achieve your goals. Just think about and focus hard on what concrete and positive steps you are going to take today to pursue your long term goals of weight loss, enhanced health, and increased fitness. One day at a time. In my opinion, slow but steady progress will always carries the day for almost every human endeavor.

 

My goal for each of you is to create a true transformation in both your internal thought process and your outward behaviors. This is not about next year, next season, next month, next week, or even tomorrow. Start with today. Today, we all need to simply be more physically active, eat healthy and in moderation, and give ourselves our own best effort. And then repeat this effort every day. In the end all those points down the road, every tomorrow, will take care of themselves. Again, one day at a time.

 

In my experience, those that are successful in achieving long term weight control, health, and fitness have instituted a fundamental shift in both their thoughts and behaviors. Healthy living is a lifestyle that they have adopted. Slowly but surely, your own lifestyle adaptation will take root and the healthy, forever changed, individual grows and blossoms and inspires the next. But it has to be one day at a time.

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Noro Virus and Holiday Cheer. Spread the facts, not the virus.

Imagine sitting in Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, waiting for a connecting flight with your three children, husband already at Aunt Ginny's in LA. He missed the pre-Christmas dinner yesterday evening with your sister Sue's family because of work. Your plane is delayed by 3 hours, it's now 10pm EST and your youngest tells you she doesn't feel very good, then proceeds to vomit in front of hundreds of people also waiting for the same flight. After the initial drama, your other two children begin to feel ill, and you're feeling queasy and achy as well. Being a nurse, you know your best option is to seek private lodging with at least two bathrooms ASAP. Pay someone to bring you lots of oral rehydration fluids and hunker down for 24 - 48 hrs of complete misery while your husband enjoys Christmas dinner with family in LA.

 

How did this happen you ask yourself, I'm always so careful especially with the kids? You call sister Sue on a land line because your cell phone battery is now dead and ask her, was anyone at your house sick the past week? Oh yes says Sue, we all had that stomach flu thing last week, why do you ask? Because you invited me into a Hot Zone you inconsiderate dolt and never said anything about it, that's why. Click. Now understand Sue was consumed with emotions and good holiday intentions, let her kids prep food for dinner even though they still can't grasp the concept of washing their hands after using the crapper. Sue was 100% certain that the added garlic in last night's dinner would protect everyone from the plague that swept through her household the week before. She heard it on an afternoon TV talk show and thus never bothered to inform her sister.

 

Given that Noro is so contagious especially in closed places (holiday gatherings) it is a tough virus to avoid. However, knowing the facts and doing your part to prevent transmission and infection is still important. If you or your family have been infected, use common sense and take steps not to spread a gift that keeps on giving. Check out the CDC website and be informed. 

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I was asked to keep this anonymous because of workplace confidentiality, but wanted to highlight another benefit of being fit and promoting the lifestyle, recognition in the workplace and doing their part to keep health care costs down. From a client below.

Wanted to share with you that I just had my annual review. A section of the review is ‘Promoting Health and Well Being”. Taken into account is participating in extracurricular health and fitness activities, lifestyle, leading by example, openly discussing health to promote health in others, participating in community events, etc. This score is given by both peers and managers who scored me at the highest level on this which put me slightly over the “allowed” raise and though my overall review has me at the top of my pay rate now, scoring high in the Health category just got me a one lump sum check for the overage which pays for almost 4 months of training. Pretty good!

 

 

 

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I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes in 2002 for ongoing symptoms of fatigue and generally feeling ill. After a weekend of freaking out over the possible outcomes I decided that I had to do something more than just change my diet. I enrolled in a major research study and was referred to Mark by the study coordinator. After almost 10 years with what is now MM Team Fitness, I have lost about 50 pounds. It's been a struggle to keep them off in part due to that midlife event that so many of us women have the fun of experiencing, major surgery in 2011 and the constant challenge of eating right. It has been hard, especially the transition to CrossFit® based training a couple years ago. At that time I just turned 55 and here we are learning the clean and jerk, working with kettlebells, pushing sleds outside on hot Summer days and climbing ropes. I almost quit several times but the alternative was losing a limb or ending up in a wheel chair like some of my family members.

Despite the challenges of high intensity, skill based exercise, I show up consistently (it's only 3 hours a week), stay positive (even on the toughest days) and do my best which is always better than nothing. As a result, my HbA1c dropped from the 7's to the low 5's and I am no longer diabetic. That my doctors say is directly related to my high intensity exercise program.

I try to live as if I am still diabetic because I don’t want to go back. I am proud (as a 57 year old) of the progress I have made and will continue to make. I move faster and I am in better shape than I was 30 years ago. Next year’s goal is another 50 mile (or more) Pelotonia ride!

- Cathy Tatum

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I've been receiving a number of questions recently regarding muscle cramps. Below is an excerpt from an email by Dr. Steve Devor. Although running specific, this an excellent explanation of a mechanism that is rarely cited and few athletes appreciate.

One of the most common reasons for failure in the marathon, especially late in the marathon, is when athletes suffer from what can be debilitating cramps to the skeletal muscles of their legs. As many seasoned marathon veterans know, these muscle cramps can also be one of most frustrating reasons for a poor performance. Typically, when you suffer from a cramp, everything else is going pretty well. The pace feels easy, energy is good, and a new PR appears to be within reach. Then one of the three major muscles in your calf cramps, seemingly out of nowhere. Your pace has to be dramatically slowed, or even stopped for a period of time to try and stretch. And at this point a PR or strong finish is out of the question.

The performance beverage industry has done an excellent job of convincing most runners and other athletes that a lack of fluid volume or electrolyte intake is the only reason for their untimely leg muscle cramps. And for many runners the appropriate intake of fluid and electrolytes solves the problem, especially in shorter races up to and including the half marathon distance. However, for a number of runners, especially when the distance is greater than a half marathon, the intake of fluids and electrolytes are not the issue. This is because the cramping one is experiencing is not caused by those variables being off.

I believe lower leg cramps are being caused by what we term “muscle overloading” or a severe fatigue cramp. And interestingly this sort of cramping is typically not an issue for a seasoned runner until they get past approximately the 20-mile mark. Simply and concisely put, this sort of cramp occurs when the nerve signals that are supposed to inhibit muscle contraction are depressed or greatly diminished, and the chemical and electrical synapses that cause muscle contraction are enhanced or turned up. The end result is an intense, sustained, and irregular involuntary muscle contraction. This type of intense contraction is not rhythmic, like the normal contractions are during your non-fatigued running. This sort of fatigued contraction is out of phase and extremely intense; thus the cramp.

So what we need to try and understand is why this sort of a fatigued muscle cramps happen even after you have trained long hard miles in preparation for a race effort. The answer lies in a breakdown in your running form late in a long race once your body becomes fatigued. A lack of overall strength contributes greatly. The less overall functional running strength a runner has, the more likely these sorts of cramps are to happen.

An interesting study was undertaken at the 2009 Manchester City Marathon. Using a high-speed video camera, investigators carefully filmed 936 runners at both the 10K (6.2 miles) and 32K (20.0 miles) time points of the marathon. They subsequently classified the runners based upon their foot strike patterns. At the 10K mark 88% were heel strikers, 3.4% were midfoot strikers, 1.8% forefoot, and nearly 6% were asymmetrical with their footfalls. Interestingly at the 32K mark, 93% were now heel striking and no one was identified as midfoot or forefoot striking.

What this data allows us to conclude is that in the late stages of a marathon the form a runner has changes, and begins to deviate in an undesirable way from what it was at the start of the race. If you have ever carefully watched someone during the late stages of a race this is not surprising to you. Form can begin to get very different and not as smooth or strong looking. When your form begins to breakdown, severe fatigued muscle cramping is not far behind.

Let me be very clear, I do not believe a change in foot strike late in a race is the issue that leads to fatigued leg muscle cramping. But I use this example as a way to illustrate, with published research, that form breaks down for many runners late in a long race, like a marathon. And the breakdown of running form is what causes the fatigued muscle cramps runners experience in the latter miles of longer races.

When one muscle or muscle group becomes greatly fatigued as a result of mile after mile after mile of repetitive contractions, your body will always compensate by employing a sort of rerouting in order to accomplish the work that needs to be done. For example, if a gluteus muscle becomes greatly fatigued and is not firing correctly any longer your leg does not simply stop working. Rather your brain will reroute the neural signals to the muscles in your calves and they will contract with more force in an attempt to make up for the fatigued gluteus muscle. This sort of physiological mechanism is not something an athlete is even aware of, it happens seamlessly. But make no mistake it causes form to be altered, and ultimately will result in a severe cramping or even an injury.

One of the primary root causes of fatigued muscle cramping during the marathon, especially in the three muscles that comprise the calf muscles, is a direct result of reduced hip extension. Recall that the movement of hip extension is driving your entire upper thigh (and entire leg for that matter) backwards after your foot contacts the ground. The power for this movement is generated primarily from the hip extensor muscles and the gluteus muscles. And make no mistake hip extension is the single most important factor in your ability to run faster. The more powerful your hip extension, the faster you will run. Long distance runners are notorious for having very weak hip extensor muscles and gluteus muscles.

As you get further into a long marathon distance race, the forceful contractions required from the hip extensor muscles and gluteus muscles to sustain a fast pace become more difficult to generate. To compensate for the hip extensor muscles and gluteus muscles becoming fatigued, the body recruits the muscles of the calf and quadriceps to assist in the generation of necessary power to maintain your marathon race pace. Since the muscles of the quadriceps, and especially the muscle of the calves, are not accustomed to such a large workload, they quickly become highly fatigued, contract irregularly, and begin to cramp. Note this severe fatigued muscle cramping does not typical happen during long training runs because your pace is far slower than race pace. And even if running form is deviating away from ideal the slower pace of the training run is far easier for your muscles to maintain without cramping.

Another example I want to emphasize is that many runners begin to almost slouch or lean forward as they become fatigued late in a race and once again their running form breaks down. Maintaining your shoulders, back, and chest in a neutral position for the several hours that are required during a marathon is a difficult task for your core muscles. Indeed most runners lack adequate core strength to maintain an optimal upright running posture for several hours. Consequently they slouch or lean forward late in a race. The leaning forward manifests with the butt being set further back in an attempt to counter balance the forward lean of the upper body.

If you are leaning forward from late race fatigue, and your butt is further back, the result is you will almost certainly over stride with each step. The over stride causes your foot to land out in front of your center of mass, as opposed to directly under your center of mass, and greatly increases the force that travels up the leg as your foot lands. Additionally, and importantly, over striding also results in the hamstring muscles in the back of your upper leg being forced to do more work to pull your leg through since your gluteus muscles will not be activated as efficiently. The result is often severe hamstring or gluteus muscle cramping. All of this is due to a breakdown of form caused by fatigue of weak skeletal muscles.

- Steve Devor, Ph.D

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Reprint from a Runners Connect e-blast. This is not only important for runners but for anyone that experiences chronic musculoskeletal pain following exercise. As Gray Cook would say, "don't layer fitness on top of dysfunction." If it hurts, have your coach evaluate your movement patterns, then see the appropriate sports medical professionals to get them fixed.

For most runners, the onset of an injury is immediately followed by frantic icing, stretching, massage, popping some NSAIDs, and likely massage. While we could argue the merits and potential pitfalls of each, the real issue is that we immediately focus on eliminating the specific pain, inflammation or tightness. This makes sense since the faster the pain goes away, the sooner we can get back to running.

Many runners end the injury and recovery process at this point. Once they've mitigated the problem, they return to training and hope the issue doesn't pop up again. However, some of the more experienced and savvy runners know the injury process isn't finished yet. They'll begin to look at why they felt a specific pain. Were their calves tight, which resulted in a tug on the achilles? Did a tight hip cause that IT band pain? Once they've identified potential issues, they'll work diligently to fix and ensure that their calves never get tight again.

This is typically where the injury and rehab process ends. For recurring and stubborn injuries, runners will continue to focus on strengthening the specific area and keeping the muscles loose and pliable. But, as many of us injured runners know, this doesn't always work. If I had a nickel for every eccentric calf raise I did to strengthen my achilles, I'd be writing this from the Bahamas. Yet, achilles issues remained the bane of my running existence no matter how hard I tried.

So, what is the solution?

If you're someone who is plagued by a stubborn and recurring running injury, I think there is another level we can take our rehab to. One that 99 percent of runners either don't consider or can't connect how it might relate. Looking at our running form.

Drilling down by looking at running form

The body is an interconnected chain. This is what makes diagnosing the underlying cause of many running injuries difficult. It's hard to imagine how sitting in a chair all day can somehow increase the chances of injuring your achilles. But, it can; and it does.

While it can be extremely complicated, the most important thing to remember when trying to understand how the body, brain and muscles work together is that your body will always compensate to get the job done. Meaning, if your glute muscle is inhibited and not firing correctly, your leg won't simply stop working. Instead, your brain tells your muscles, "hey, this glute isn't getting the job done, let's fire the calves more forcefully to make up for the lack of power." This "rerouting" occurs unconsciously and often you'll never even realize it occurs.

When this happens occasionally, it's not a major issue and we should appreciate how amazingly our body adapts. I certainly wouldn't want my leg to lock up in the middle of a run simply because my glutes got tired or inhibited.

However, this becomes a problem when it occurs every run. This is when the body makes long-term compensations that continually place additional stress on other muscle groups not designed to handle the extra workload.

When bad form results in injury

Calf, achilles and plantar fascia issues.

Again, using the glutes as an example. We know that the glutes are one of the strongest muscle groups in our body. More importantly, research shows that they generate a majority of power during the stride - being active at strong levels at the end of swing phase, during the first third of stance, near the time of footstrike, and to aid in contraction of the hamstrings.

When they glutes are not activating, which is often the result of poor running form, this power needs to be generated elsewhere. So, the body shifts the work to a muscle like the calves. The problem is that the calf is not nearly as strong or fatigue resistant as the glutes, and the added stress is more than the muscle can handle. The result, calf strains, achilles issues and potentially plantar problems.

Shin splints and stress fractures

There aren't many aspects of running form that all experts agree on (part of what makes it so difficult to teach), but there is one element that no biomechanist believes is good - over striding.

Over striding occurs when your foot lands too far out in front of your hips or center of mass, typically with a more straightened leg. It doesn't matter if you hit the ground with your forefoot, mid foot, or heel, if you over stride, your impact loading rate is going to increase dramatically. This adds a significant amount of stress to the muscles, ligaments and bones in the lower leg.

When most runners develop shin splints, they immediately ice the shin and begin to strengthen the muscles in the surrounding area. This is helpful, but if you don't first fix the potential issue of over striding, your shin splints are going to come back no matter how strong your shin and calf muscles are.

Runner's knee and It band injuries

During the "stance" phase of the stride, the body is supported by only one leg. So, when your right leg is planted, it means your entire left side is "cantilevered" over your left hip. If the right hip muscles aren't firing correctly (either because of weakness or just bad neural patterns), the pelvis and upper body will tilt downwards on the left side. This is what running coaches would call "excessive hip drop".

We know from numerous studies that this hip drop, or excessive adduction and internal rotation, results in increased stress on the knees.

So, while you may be massaging your IT band to get it supple and strengthening the quads to help support the knee, your IT band or Runner's Knee issues will continue until you're able to fix your hip drop.

These are just a few examples of how minor flaws in your form could potentially result in injuries far down the kinetic chain. If you suffer from recurring injuries or have issues you just can't seem to shake no matter how much stretching and strength work you do, consider taking a deeper look at your running form and how your injury might be connected.

- RunnersConnect, 40 Cameron Street, Brookline, MA 02445

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Kim saw her in-laws last week, it had been awhile, they looked at her and said, "Kim, you're not fat anymore." Figured that would be a good title.

Kim (right pic) one year ago March 2013, Kim (left pic) March 2014.

Started back with MM Team Fitness in the Fall of 2013 after relocating back into the COL area for her job, weighed about 177 lbs. Weighed in last week at 152 lbs. Has gained about 3 lbs of lean mass (iDXA measure), net fat loss of about 28 lbs.

Consumes a zone based/block diet. Takes a multi-vit, glucosamine, Vit D, Calcium, protein and creatine monohydrate pre/post WOD. Team trains 3d/wk, one day of treadmill intervals on Saturdays, about 5 mi total.

Time trialed an 8 mi tempo run last week in 57 min. About a 7:10 pace. That would put her under an estimated 1:40 time for the Cap City in May. If she has time to run more than the tread intervals over the next few weeks, she will likely post a better 1/2 time than she did before she began HIIT training in 2009 while running 43 mi avg a week. Best 1/2 time then around 1:48. Still has a ways to go to beat her Cap City win in 2010 with a time just under 1:26, but its a start.

For more background info, see the blog, "Productivity is not an accident." It will help you understand her mindset and how she makes it all work.

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Recently there a was blog post circulating that included a list of commercial protein supplements to avoid (see attached photo), on that list was EAS Myoplex. Now I believe EAS products to be some of the best nutritional supplements on the planet, and I felt this particular blog deserved at the very least a rebuttal from someone well versed on the product line. I emailed Dr. Keith Wheeler, Global Director of Performance Nutrition Research, Development and Scientific Affairs with Abbott Nutrition and asked if he could briefly comment. Here is a summary of what he had to say.

This extreme type of nutrition quackery is very difficult to respond to because people like this are typically “self” proclaimed nutrition experts. This person in the link you sent is obviously not trained in nutrition, and clearly is not a nutrition expert, but a politician (and apparently a good one with the following she has). While some of her information is really just an opinion, most of it is incorrect and used as a scare tactic, that most politicians use to bring people to see and approve of their personal radical point of view. The “heavy metals” article and perspective is totally wrong, and actually the Myoplex tested complied with the maximum standard established for foods. Of course this person would not know this because she does not understand either the test being run, or the interpretation of the USP standard. Her comments on whey isolate as a bad source of protein, is just absurd and the comments on antibiotics proves she has not a clue of the food supply or processing requirements or standards. The GMO issue itself is highly polarizing, but she presents her view as scientific fact, when in actuality, it is just her opinion.

I am not sure what else I can say except that this motivates me to create an article for the EAS Academy site entitled Nutrition Cultism: Facts and Fiction (based on the 1980s book written by Victor Herbert)! This new article would give 16 tips on how to spot food quacks and nutritional frauds on the internet and around the world. Like days gone by, the modern food quack is a super salesperson. These frauds play on the fears of the public, and they cater to the hopes of those trying to improve their lives. Seldom do the victims of such fraud realize how often or how skillfully they are being cheated and lied to. Most people think this quackery is easy to spot, but it isn’t! The modern quack wears a cloak of science. They speak in scientific terms. They write with scientific references. They are introduced on the talk show as experts “ahead of their time”. The very word “quack” may allow the reader to think of an old, broken down person selling snake oil from the back of a covered wagon! Well, maybe snake oil isn’t the issue of the today, but GMOs, heavy metals, lies about organic foods, whey isolate, processed foods, gluten, artificial sweeteners and other items that will shorten our lives and bring humanity as we know it to an end…are the issues of today. Sincerity is a very important asset in the “quacks” approach to education. Many examples exist within the attached website, that clearly show just how sincere this quack really is! Our responsibility, your responsibility, is to expose these frauds for what they really are….a thief who takes advantage of human weaknesses!

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I've been training clients for about 18 years, the more I work with people, the more I wonder why some are so productive and others are not. Why one client can handle insurmountable problems in their life and not miss a beat, and another crumbles because their BMW doesn't react well to snow (well not crumble, but they get really whiny).

This morning I asked a returning client, one that for job reasons had to move out of the area and is now back, some thought provoking questions about commitment, communication and motivation.

This client is female, has a one year old child, lives about 30 miles north of Columbus, works on average 60 hours a week, gets about 6 hours of sleep a night if the one year old permits, and works a high level, high pressure corporate job with about 850 people that answer to her, and then she has to answer to people at the very top who only want the right answers.

Lots of reasons to "no show", drop off the radar, fail to email for scheduling, fail to communicate effectively, fail to be consistent with training or dietary intake, meeting expectations, you name it.

So I asked her how and why, given the level of complexity and demands in her life, she very rarely misses a session, has in all the years I've trained her, NEVER "no showed", always emails in advance with scheduling, travel or any simple issues or questions, and will always make time for a phone call or face to face if a matter requires a higher level of communication. She is always on time despite a long drive even in the winter, is a team player, always focused, listens, learns, never complains or whines and remains friendly and professional even after she has or is about to face a s***storm at work.

Here is the Q & A.

Q: Given all on your plate, what motivates you to keep training?

A: I know I will do better at everything if I am happy with myself from a health and physique perspective. Being healthy and physically capable to live life also fuels my mind. I am a very goal oriented and achievement is a key motivator, thus being good at “life” continues to perpetuate the desire for accomplishing even more. MM Team training not only allows me to accomplish things I NEVER thought would be possible (like climbing a rope, body weight dips, etc.), it continues to challenge me because of the variety functional training provides and even when one “masters” a move there is always a way to take it up a notch through more weight or an added variable.

Q: It would be easy for you to "no show", not have time to communicate, etc. Given the levels of priority in your life, the trainer (me) could easily be the lowest. Yet, you are rock solid consistent and always make time to communicate effectively. Why?

A: You personally have an unprecedented level of commitment to what you do and your clients. You aren’t just “showing” up for your sessions, you pour yourself into the preparation for the routines, research of articles, sending tutorials, answering questions, making time for advice and on and on. Not only am I committed to my personal wellbeing, when I started training with you I made a commitment to you. I go all in with everything I do or I don’t do it……my grandfather always said “you either pay me now or you pay me later but if it is later it will be with interest.” His message was meant to do it right every time. It goes against who I am to not honor commitments and because of who you are and what you put into your clients and me personally being a no show goes against my commitment to you.

My experience has been that most issues either at work or personally boil down to communication. It is very easy to react to what is said and tell stories to yourself to either validate or build a “case” for the message you want to hear. Understanding the intent behind what is said and knowing that if someone is taking the time to talk about an issue is a sign they care enough to talk about it. I use questions to really get to the intent as well as the facts so I don’t end up telling myself a story. I can’t begin to count the number of times that issues have come up that created negative consequences and only if “I had known about them” could have been avoided……so I make it a point to communicate as I am sure I am not alone with these experiences.

Q: On your worst days, you never show it, always a team player. How do you manage that?

A: Everyone has issues and everyone has a different ability to deal with their issues. No matter what mine are, it can always be worse. My 3 hours a week with you are for me. I need those so I decide to check my issues at the door and pick them up on my way out. If I don’t, I won’t be fully present and my performance won’t meet expectation, ultimately not fueling me (in fact having a negative effect) and not honoring my commitment to you.

Not whining or complaining….one of my life approaches is love it, leave it or change it. With this mindset it doesn’t allow for complaining, it drives either acceptance and getting on board, leave it behind or change what is bothering me.

I played team sports since I was 5 so understand the dynamics of a team environment. Been on great teams and horrific teams so I know how to operate in that range. I never want to be “that girl” on the team. The world is much bigger than me.

Q: Any final thoughts?

A: My grandfather always told me that I can sleep when I am dead and to make sure I leave the world a better place than when I came into it. While I am not changing the world on a global basis like Issac Newton or Albert Einstein, I do feel that my job allows me to improve patients’ lives around the world by making quality medicines and the people I touch through my leadership at work helps them to be better people professionally and personally. I wouldn’t be able to do this without feeling good about myself, therefore the desire to train.

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I returned to MM Team Fitness in April of 2013. I had been away from training for about 6 months because of 60+ hour, on-call work weeks. I ultimately changed jobs as I realized that lifestyle was going to kill me. When I returned to training, I found that I couldn’t finish the routines. One of the problems with dropping out is that everyone continues to move forward and you regress, rapidly. Everyone swears they will keep up with exercise, the reality is, it doesn’t happen. Those 3 hours a week are quickly replaced with something other than exercise and it takes an insidious physical toll. You never know it until you have to do something physical in an unfit state.

My first two months back were a struggle, the teams encouraged me to do what I could and to keep in mind that reentry is never easy. At that time I wondered if it was worth it. The key motivator was turning 50 in June of 2013 and seeing the decrepit physical condition of my friends. I didn’t want to be like them, I knew I had to get back in and make it part of my lifestyle going forward.

 


When we’re young, we measure our fitness level by how we look, how we impress others with max lifts, washboard abs and big biceps. By the time you’re 50, your fitness level is measured by how much you can still do in life outside the gym and the stuff you don’t think about when you’re younger like heart disease, obesity, diabetes and other lifestyle related diseases. The kind of stuff that can put you in a grave well before retirement or make retirement a physical and financial nightmare.  


 

I remember when I first started back with MM Team Fitness in early spring, I could barely cut my grass with a self-propelled mower without back pain and feeling wiped out the rest of the day.

In late fall, a friend asked me to come out to his farm and help him clear some land. I was hesitant because I knew that I had to cut and bag all the grass and leaves in my yard the same day as the weather was turning, but I decided to go regardless because he needed the help.

I spent the day using a chainsaw and ax cutting down and cutting up trees, loading them in a hauler and then stacking the wood on his property. We worked about 6 hours, non-stop. I went home tired but felt good about what we had accomplished. When I arrived home, I cut and bagged the grass and wet leaves in my yard, adding another 2 hours of manual labor to the day. Despite the long day, I still felt better than I used to after just two hours of hard yard work. I got up the next morning and wasn’t even sore, joined my 10a Team for a good workout.

At that point I realized the importance of maintaining a high degree of physical preparedness. It took me 7 months to get back into shape after dropping out, and it was well worth it. It’s an investment in me, for my future as well as my family. I am grateful that I can once again enjoy everyday activities of life, pain-free and without struggle.

- Mike Lamont

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This morning I shared a picture on FB of a gym devoid of rows of cardio equipment and selectorized machines. The caption, "Space, the final frontier, a place where the bold have dared to go to explore strange yet highly effective exercise programming, and seek out new members and civilizations of fitness participants in a maturing fitness business universe."

When I opened my email afterward, I was greeted with a newsletter from FBC (Fitness Business Council) summarizing preliminary industry data from 2013 and commentary by various fitness industry leaders and veteran consultants. What was interesting as I read through the newsletter, was that it reminded me of a conversation I had with a female client yesterday regarding the importance of exercise as a component of wellness in the corporate setting, specifically among women business professionals with real lives. Below are a few comments/quotes from the article.

When we open the cover of most fitness industry magazines, over 90% of ads feature young, hard and sexy participants that look like they spend most of their lives dieting and exercising. Yet, the average club member is over 40 years of age, generally overweight and lucky to make it into their facility of choice twice a week because they live real lives (kids, jobs, travel, etc.). The over 40 and not so fit are looking for something simple and all inclusive as a component of their wellness needs (exercise is a component of wellness). They have no aspiration to possess washboard abs or post selfies on FB (sorry selfie friends, just talking about the business here). They just want to live better lives, and perhaps more functional longer lives with less risk of acquiring lifestyle related disease.

Clubs however continue to add more, more and more offerings making an already difficult decision even more difficult for potential members that have less time in their day, with each new day.

Equipment manufacturers continue to create more expensive, "shock and awe" machines to accomplish the same fitness goal that most could manage with a kettlebell, band and rope. They are not creating new products that are responsive to consumer needs with the exception of Rogue Fitness perhaps. Simply more of the same, and more expensive to purchase and costly to maintain for the club, and something that doesn't require long-term coaching to operate (many now have QR codes linked to, how to videos), thus reducing the potential for the increasing important ancillary club sales (coaches).

Obesity continues at epidemic proportions and the healthcare community along with corporate wellness is moving away from treatment and toward prevention that focuses on exercise and lifestyle change. Exercise being the polypill replacing medications as summarized in a publication by Fiuza-Luces et. al, 2013. Yet industry publications feature little in the way of ads targeting weight loss, weight management and wellness programming.

IHRSA (International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association) now considers the fitness industry as mature, no longer a growth industry. Clubs are making different capital purchasing decisions, allocating more space to functional training and outfitting these areas with training tools that support "free-form" programming. Treadmill, elliptical, recumbent, stair-climber and stationary bike use are down anywhere from 7% - 16%.

Preliminary data for 2013 suggest that membership sales were up in less than 50% of clubs. One-on-one and group personal training continued to grow slowly, but GEX (group exercise classes) growth appears to have stagnated.

What does this all mean for 2014? A continuing fundamental shift away from washboard abs to wellness, away from membership sales to programs that attract and retain more participants to existing facilities and generate greater ancillary sales. A focus on marketing and programming for the 40+, overweight participant with little time for exercise that desperately needs it to live a better and longer life, and has the means to afford the necessary tools. All they need is someone to care about THEM, not the already fit crowd. In essence, employ the KISS principle, keep it simple and straight forward and make it something designed to prevent or treat injuries, and enhance emotional well-being. What we don't need is more space junk.

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After posting this morning’s album of the girls SDL’ing 6 sets of triples with some decent weight, I receive an email from a FB friend asking why I have these women, especially the older ones (not sure what she meant by older) lift so much weight. Well, it’s really not that much, certainly not powerlifter status, but they are not training to be powerlifters, just to live a better life. She was concerned about injury.

Supertraining author Mel Siff defined work capacity as "the general ability of the body as a machine to produce work of different intensity and duration using the appropriate energy systems of the body." I would add to that, and not get injured in the process.

The goal of MM Team Fitness is to enhance “general” work capacity to as a high a level as possible in any client given their age, physical limitations and abilities, without increasing the risk of injury.

So then, why would any non-competitive female aspire to deadlift 200 lbs, flip a tractor tire or clean a 62+ lb kettlebell, for reps, correctly?

Last Summer as I was loading up hardware supplies in the Lowe’s parking lot for a fireworks shoot I noticed a woman and her two young boys (looked to be about 8 and 12 yrs old) skinny as bean poles, pushing out a cart with about a dozen 0.5 cu ft bags of paver sand. I figure they were about 75 lbs a piece. She opened the back of her SUV and they attempted to load the sand. First, the two young lads grabbed a bag, one dropped one end then the other dropped his end. The bag broke open across the cart, mom was displeased. Second attempt was mom and the elder son, again the elder son dropped his end and mom with her legs straight, back rounded like a half-moon took the brunt of the dropped bag in a very compromised anatomical position. Instantly she fell to her knees grabbing her lower back, clearly in severe pain. An attendant from Lowe’s came running over to assist her onto the back of the SUV and there she sat unable to move. As I was pulling out of the parking lot she was on the phone, probably calling her husband on the golf course to tell him to take her to the hospital and the boys and sand home.

Back to work capacity. At a talk a couple years ago, Dr Barry Franklin, a well respected cardiovascular exercise physiologist from Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak was explaining why it was important for cardiac rehab patients to include resistance training in their exercise programming. It had to do with developing work capacity relating to strength. We tend to refer to effort in terms of a percentage of our maximal capacity whether it be aerobic, a mix of aerobic/anaerobic or muscular strength/endurance. For example, if a subject is trained to lift 200 lbs, then that 75 lb bag of sand is 37.5% of their maximal lift, it will be perceived as an easy lift, both by the mind and the body. If the subject only trains to lift 35 lbs, then lifting the 75 lb bag of sand will seem insurmountable and likely result in serious physical injury.

Likewise, if a person has a VO2max of 40 ml O2/kg/min, that person would last about 1 minute on the treadmill at that workload. If the same person was able to achieve a VO2max of 55 ml O2/kg/min through physical training, running at a VO2 of 40 or now 73% of the maximal aerobic capacity would be easy and sustainable for hours, not minutes or seconds.

What does this have to do with life? Well, the mother cited above is one example, but simply raising kids that weigh 40+ lbs, moving furniture or having to do things you have to do yourself because no one else is available to help are all good examples of why being able to clean a 63 lb KB or deadlift 200 lbs allows you live a better life and stay out of the U$ Health Care System.

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It has been two years since Kathy’s last iDXA, she is now over 50 and has been training with MM Team Fitness for 3+ years. Her performance continues to improve and she has consistently maintained a fat free mass of 116.5 lbs on her 67” frame at a bodyweight of 141 lbs and 18.1% body fat. Her total bone density is 2.6 standard deviations above that of a healthy 20 year old female. Since her last iDXA she has increased her total bone density by 2.5% at a time when most women her age are losing bone density. Certainly genetics play a roll, but her consistency with dietary intake (macros and micros) and the level of intensity she puts forth during her training sessions contribute in large part to these long-term results.

While we tend focus on what we see in the mirror, it tells you little about what is going on under the muscle. Restrictive weight loss programs, excessive cardio, excessive leanness and unbalanced diets can take an insidious toll on bone density. You won’t know it until there is a problem and at that point, it’s very hard to reverse the damage.

Women are programmed by the media to train with light weight and high reps, do lots of cardio and live on salads and tuna. Will this give you abs and that long lean look, perhaps if your genetics permit it and you are able to tolerate the lifestyle required to maintain it. Problem is, taken together it is a prescription for early osteoporosis. Peak bone density occurs early in life, and high peak bone density reduces the risk of osteoporosis in later life.

We know that long term caloric restriction and excess exercise of any kind is a set up for metabolic damage. Muscle disappears, performance declines, you’re getting fatter, more cardio and caloric restriction is no longer effective and that all powerful reinforcing buff image in the mirror disappears. Positive self-esteem morphs into depression. Your friends start asking you if you’ve been sick and it just gets uglier from there.The bright side if there is one, is that the metabolic damage and self-esteem is repairable, though the journey back to a normal metabolism is rough. Reversing the damage done to bone density however, is less promising.

At MM Team Fitness we believe in science based training. We use VO2max/AT testing for endurance performance assessment and exercise prescription, and iDXA for all participants, particularly women. iDXA is a very accurate, research grade tool used for assessing body composition (total and regional, fat and lean mass) and total and multisite bone density. In addition to baseline data collection, we refer clients to licensed sports nutrition professionals for guidance on sustainable weight loss, performance enhancement (endurance, strength and physique) and just living a better life.

Train for a sustainable healthy life and you’ll still end up looking good in the mirror. Train for the mirror and you’re unlikely to live a healthy life. Interested in an iDXA, see: www.mmteamfitness.com/about-mm-weight-loss for more information.

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I began training with MM Team Fitness® in May of 2013 following an Internet search for personal training. I was interested in doing some kind of personal training and I had heard about TRX®. So I did what I always do, began my research to see where it would take me. I found a location that offered TRX® training once a week but it was far from my home and I was going to spend more time on the road than I was training. As I continued looking for places closer to home with TRX® training, I came across locations that offered a variety of other training services and one style that intrigued me was CrossFit™. I had never heard of CrossFit™ before and had no real idea what it involved. I found MM Team Fitness® and I liked the philosophy of the CrossFit™ based training. Not as intense as the competitive CrossFit™ you might see on ESPN, but still far more productive than the traditional personal training one usually finds in most regular health clubs and gyms.

Never-the-less, when I saw the “action” pictures and the list of equipment that the MM Teams used, I was intimidated. I filled out the on-line form for a free assessment several times before I actually submitted it! Finally, after a week of contemplating, I got over my fear and hit “enter”.

Wow, was my assessment an eye opener!! I had completed a triathlon prior to turning 50 and 3 years later I was struggling to do squats, lunges and other basic assessment movements. As Olivia, Mark’s summer intern said, “I was a hot mess!!” I began attending sessions 3 times a week and it has been one of the hardest things I have ever done. Trying to learn the lingo was like learning a foreign language. I had no idea what a WOD, AWUW or DB Burbee was. Luckily, I had Olivia to act as my translator. She was my lifeline during those first few weeks.

I am now doing things that I never, ever thought I would be able to. When I first began this journey, I couldn’t jump rope for more than 15 seconds, doing 500m on the rower would have taken me all day, and lifting weights was something that I only dreamed about. I still have a long way to go, but I am getting there step by step. The people that I train with are a large part my success. They have been where I am and keep encouraging me to do even more.

MM Team Fitness® has helped me to do two things that have truly transformed my life. One, I quit smoking about 3 months ago and two, I now love to exercise! If I miss one of my sessions, I feel like I have missed an important part of my day.

Last week I had a follow up iDXA with Dr Jackie Buell at The Ohio State University. After 6 months of training, I was concerned that the 5 lbs of weight I put on since I stopped smoking was fat. Mark told me to relax and see what the results of my second iDXA were. As it turns out, I’ve dropped my body fat by 2%, added almost 6 lbs of muscle to my frame and have begun to increase my bone density.

It will be interesting now that I can actually lift more intensely, what the next 6 months will bring. I’m very excited!

- Lauren Davis, age 53

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Results to date for the 1000 m under 4 min club.

 

Rob 3:32

Alan 3:41

Eddie 3:43

Dan 3:47

Abdul 3:49

Sascha 3:50

Robbie 3:51

Audrey 3:52 

Jon 3:52

Jeff 3:56

Bonnie - I am just happy that I lived to tell about it, and maintained my usual 500 meter split with a 5 min 10 second time.

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This original blog was written in August of 2013. Yesterday Michele ran the Wine Glass Marathon in 4:11, after 5 years of struggling to beat her former PR, she crushed it by 20 minutes. No easy task for a 46 yr-old single mom with 2 young children, and full-time job with travel. Here is her story.

 

My goal is to train smarter and become stronger, and every day I do just that.

Years ago I trained with Mark (back in the bodybuilding style lifting days) before, during and a couple of years after I had my first and second son. I ran my first ½ marathon when I was pregnant with my second son and became hooked on running. I eventually started running longer distances, and the more I ran, the less I weight trained until I eventually quit resistance training completely.

Many of my running friends keep track of their mileage on websites where all runners, cyclists or swimmers gather to log their workouts and motivate each other. However, the motivation slowly became an “unhealthy” competition. Many of us would run just so we could post longer mileages each day and before I knew it I was running 45-60 miles a week trying to keep up with the next person.

The problem was that none of my runs were considered quality runs. They were becoming slower but longer and my race times were not getting better. I was plagued by hip pain and would limp for a couple of days after a long run. The most depressing part of all was that I started to gain weight and it wasn’t muscle.

Two years ago I started back with MM Team Fitness mainly to add some CrossFit based training to my routine and strengthen my core. Six months into training, after finishing a long run I realized that I no longer had hip pain! I also lost some weight without changing my diet and started to see a positive change in my shape. The CrossFit style training also reduced my race recovery time. Instead of taking 5- 7 days off after a marathon, I am usually back on the road within 2-3 days.

Although Mark had been on me to run less but more productive miles, psychologically it was difficult to let go of the traditional “more is better” runner mentality. In what may have been a blessing in disguise, because of some time constraint issues in my life, the high mileage routine had to stop a few months ago. There just wasn’t time for miles of long, slow distance.

Needing to cut back the “time on feet” meant I had to cut back mileage and make each run count. I was practically forced to become a more efficient runner. I now run an average of 4-5 miles vs. 8-10 miles and each minute and mile “counts.” No more junk miles.

Speed workouts with my running coach Peter Arbogast now have a different meaning. They are not just an uncomfortable run where I huff and puff and sweat a little. They are intense enough to give me “Jell-O legs” for at least 24 hours. I am running 38-40 miles a week to train for a marathon which may still be a bit high (if you ask Myhal) but a considerable improvement compared to 45-60 weekly miles. Best of all I feel stronger, training pace and endurance has improved considerably and I have more time in my life, for life.

The true test will come in October with the Wine Glass Marathon in NY. I have been a distance runner for the past 9 years and have had my share of bad races despite good training seasons, so I am a little nervous about the change in training style. If I have a chance to beat my old PR from 5 years ago, this is the season to give it a shot. I plan to give it my all and leave no mile behind.

 


If anything, the CrossFit based workouts have conditioned me mentally and physically to push past the limits I once set for myself.


 

I am by far a tougher and more competitive endurance athlete because of it and it definitely helped me run the Big Sur this year under 4:36. Quite an accomplishment for me.

- Michele

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I started training with MM Team Fitness in July of 2013. My husband a former competitive bodybuilder knew Mark from the old days, was following his clients on Facebook and felt that his new style of functional team training would be a good fit for me. I had been working one on one with another trainer and felt that I needed to step it up. I had never worked out in a group setting, had no clue what to expect or what this "CrossFit Based” style" of training was. I couldn’t even begin to understand the workout lingo (AWUW, WOD, Suicides, and Death Marches)!

During the initial week I asked my husband to work out in the gym during my first few classes for moral support. Just knowing he was in the same building made me feel more confident. Mark assigned his summer intern Olivia to me to assist and direct me through my beginning sessions.


During my second class I wasn’t getting it. I couldn't keep up. I didn't have any strength or balance and felt defeated. I started to cry and turned to Olivia to tell her that I just couldn't do this.


That evening after class I told my husband in the parking lot that I couldn't do this. One of the girls in my group (Natalie Weekly) came up to us and assured me that I could do this and that we all start out in the same place. The three of us talked for a good while in the parking lot that night and between what Natalie and my husband said, I decided to keep at it.

It's been four and a half months of hard work, perseverance and consistency and it is really paying off. I am doing things I never thought possible and building a leaner, stronger and more functional me!! I thought I was training with my previous trainer, Mark told me I was just renting a friend, not training.

I honestly never knew how much fun I’d have climbing ropes, flipping tires and swinging kettlebells at age 53. I love this stuff now. What I learned from my teammates, many of them women in their 50’s, is that it doesn’t matter what you can do when you start, only that you have the right attitude and desire to be challenged to be the best you can be. They all tell me the same thing, they wanted to quit because it seemed impossible, now they are all doing things physically inside and outside the gym they once thought, were impossible. It’s only impossible if you choose to make it so.

The first few weeks will define who you are and whether you fit the MM Team Fitness culture. It’s only 3 days a week and costs less than most other personal training programs but is very effective. The workouts are challenging and the results come quickly. The program will make you leaner, stronger and faster. Mark will coach you and the teams will guide and support you. He also uses a referral base of sports nutritionists, sports medicine physicians and physical therapists to address additional client needs. You bring commitment and the right attitude, and understand that it won’t be easy. I had easy doing one on one, I never realized what real training was like or what it could do for me personally.

Thank you so much Natalie Weekly for pulling me back from the quitter’s ledge and believing in me!! Thank you a million times Mark Myhal for pushing me to do what I never thought would be possible, and special thanks to my husband Abdul for inspiring me to just do my best and not quit. There are no goals, just a life transformation. I am sooooooo glad I didn't quit, looking back it would have been a huge mistake.

- Toni

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Audrey had a follow up iDXA this morning with Dr Buell at OSU. Since late April of this year, and with ½ marathon training beginning in late May 2013 that included one day of 400m, 800m or 1200m repeats totaling about 5 mi, and one long run 4 – 9 mi (varying RPE) on the weekend (total weekly mileage about 9 – 14 mi), she’s at 17.9% body fat (losing about 4 lbs of fat mass and gained about 2.5 lbs of lean mass since April). Yes, added lean mass while adding run training into her programming, with additional nutritional (caloric) support of course. Current bodyweight at 5’7” is 148.6 lbs. Remember she started her life transformation in early 2012 at a bodyweight in the low 190’s and a % bodyfat in the mid 40’s.

Diet is zone based with modifications for activity and performance. Added in creatine monohydrate and beta-alanine along with plant based nitrates for performance over the past couple months, and whey protein and a multi vit from the beginning. No other supplements, weight loss products or programs, just dialed in her diet with foods she likes to eat and stayed rock solid consistent with diet and exercise.

In her words, with 2 kids, a full time job and the drive time to MM Team train and run train with a running coach, it’s tight, but I'm happy, I don't  feel stressed, my life is balanced, and I would have never expected these results.

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I started training with MM Team Fitness at the beginning of 2011 as part of the Climb for the Cure training event, doing legs only once a week. In October of 2010 I ran my first half-marathon. While training for that race, I developed plantar fasciitis. I also gained weight during training and I knew it wasn't just muscle mass. When I ran the race, I felt heavier and less in shape than I had six months before. I knew I had to change my approach to training and include strength and conditioning.

When I started training with MM Team Fitness, I was surprised what I couldn't do. I found out that most things I thought I knew how to do, I was doing incorrectly. I couldn't squat below parallel without bending over -- just didn't have the hip flexibility. I didn't know how to power clean a bar or work with kettlebells without bruising myself up. I made progress, slowly. With MM Team Fitness training, I often felt like I took two steps forward and one step back. It’s hard mentally and physically, but I appreciate that Mark demands proper form and technique because it's important to avoid injury and to translate what we do in the gym to real life.

Following my first Pelotonia century ride in 2011, I added a second day of team training. In early 2012 I came on board with the full 3d/wk program.

I started training with Mark because of his knowledge and expertise. What I didn't expect when I started was how much I would enjoy the team aspect of our training. Mark tends to draw high-caliber clients to his groups, not in the sense that they are highly fit to start, but they are all passionate and committed to living better lives, like minded driven professionals as others have described his teams.


I am inspired and motivated by my teammates and the improvement I've seen in others. The energy of team training brings out my “A Game” for every session.


This year, during the 100 mile Pelotonia ride, the people I passed were averaging about 12-14 mph, and I was easily passing them at 18-20. I realized at that point how much I have improved in 2 years and how important strength and conditioning is to endurance sports. When I started cycling in 2011, I was one of those people everyone else was passing.

Interestingly, my performance has improved significantly by riding only two days a week (one interval ride and one long ride), in addition to my three-days-a-week of team training. Moreover, I'm not spending near the amount of time on my bike that most of my friends are, but I have steadily improved with them.

As many other competitive MM Team Fitness endurance athletes are finding, improved performance comes with less total miles, more interval/speed/hill work, and strength and conditioning. Two years ago I would have never thought that. – Heidi Griesmer (age 42)

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I earned my IFBB Pro Figure Card in 2007. Priorities changed not long after that and I decided I wanted to start a family. After years of trying to become pregnant, finally there was in vitro success in December of 2011 with the arrival of my miracle baby Steele.  With all the hormone therapy, and actually having 3 back to back failed pregnancies lasting approximately 1-3 months for 3 straight years you can imagine what that does to a girl’s body and metabolism. Oh yeah, throw in eating whatever I wanted to that mix, and no exercise (per doctors orders)!  Early in 2013, at age 45, I decided I wanted my body back and was trying to figure out given the limited time I had for the gym and the financial resources for a trainer, the best approach. 

There was no way I could do daily or twice daily cardio sessions anymore, nor spend hours in the gym training. Living in the country, an hour from Columbus, working full-time and taking care of a new born, I had come up with something that made the best use of my time, and was affordable. 

When I first contacted Mark about training, he explained the CrossFit based programming he was using with his clients. Based on his observations coming out of the CrossFit community, he was convinced it was the best way to restore my body with what little time I had for training. He told me it would be different, skill based, require more mobility and flexibility than previous training styles but that it would increase my metabolism, add the needed muscle mass I wanted for a possible over 45 Pro Physique or Figure competition down the road, and minimize the need for additional cardio. He told me it would be frustrating and difficult, as well as mentally challenging getting my head out of what used to be my former lifestyle. He told me I could actually eat what I liked and the days of near zero carb diets were history. They were just not compatible with this style of training. I was skeptical for sure.  

My current diet is Zone/Block based, and not totally strict on portions. Not measuring or weighing things and I indulge in certain foods when I crave them (within reason), drink and eat normally on the weekends but nothing crazy. 

Cardio consists of 2 – 3 days of incline treadmill walking, about 30 – 45 minutes, and I am not allowed to hold the side or front rails!  

Post workout I consume a protein/carbohydrate drink, then follow that up with a mixed meal. I don’t watch sodium esp given how much I sweat and take Creatine monohydrate and Beta-Alanine as supplements. 

Total kcal intake simply matches my macro needs, try to keep the protein at about 1 g/lb body mass. 

I’ve been training consistently since March of 2013, the changes in my body composition and symmetry have occurred much faster than I expected. I’ve been told that my shape is better now that it was when I competed. I’ll take that. I certainly need to get leaner, but for now the focus is muscle and symmetry. I currently weigh about 153 and I am about 16% bodyfat as determined by iDXA.  

When I first started I told Mark I wanted glutes and hamstrings, he assured me that wouldn’t be a problem given all the posterior chain work in the programming. He was right. What we do is not easy nor is it for everyone. It was as mentally challenging as it is physically. But the results given the time I spend in the gym, much better than the old days. 

Obviously when I decide to get contest ready, the diet will tighten up, but it will stay balanced and include foods I like. There are no magic foods, only total kcals and the right macro balance. 

I haven’t decided on when or if I’ll compete. The goal is to get in the best shape I can, get leaner and work on my symmetry. If at that point I feel like I can be competitive in an over 45 Pro Division, and the prep will fit into my “real life”, we’ll see what happens. Until then, I keep it fun, enjoy working with my teammates and the community of MM Team Fitness.

Updated 7-8-2014. Competed in IFBB Pro Women's Physique, Wings of Strength Show in Chicago IL, on 7-5-2014, took 4th place out of 17 pro women. Thank you Mark for all you do!!!

- Pam York

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