CategoriesBlog Live Fit. Move.

Sculpt a Better Life With a Strong Core

** This post contributed by Dr. Traci Grandfield

Core strength is one of the major foundations to our health and, consequentially, quality of life. The definition of core is “the most central or most important part of something.”  The core is where we generate the power to drive our bodies in every action they perform. From major stressors, such as lifting weights at the gym, to small actions, such as chores around the house, our core is responsible for supporting our spine and the rest of our skeletal framework. Without core strength, your body will always struggle to hold balance and alignment and injury is much more likely to occur.

What muscles make up the core?
The core is not simply the lower abdominals.  It is composed of many muscles working together: muscles of the trunk including the abdominals and little muscles surrounding the spine called paraspinals, muscles of the hip girdle including the gluteals and upper leg muscles, and the shoulder girdle muscles. These muscles are constantly working together to stabilize your core. Core stability comes from the strength and ability of these muscles to hold it together, literally.

Benefits of core stability

Injury prevention, maintenance of low-back health, athletic performance and spinal stability are just a few benefits of having a strong core. Injury can occur to the discs of the spine, such as a herniated disc, due to lack of support during a simple activity like bending over. Without proper gluteal firing and hip stability, stress on the knees may be overwhelming. This can lead to arthritis over time or knee ligament injury.

Core stability is necessary for movement of arms and legs in athletics. If you’ve ever carried groceries, moved boxes, swung a baseball bat or golf club, shot a basketball or served a volleyball you felt the activation of your core beginning in your abdomen or trunk before the transfer of power out through your arms and legs. In fact, the more core strength you have, the better you perform in any of those activities.

While performing well is satisfying, remember that avoiding injury while playing your favorite activities is paramount. Some research has proven that optimal performance comes from optimum production, transfer and control of force and motion to the extremities in athletic activities. This means that power from your arms and legs is dependent on the strength and stability of your trunk and core muscles, which produce and transfer forces across the body.

So remember:

Core endurance = Spinal stability
Core strength = injury prevention and better athletic performance
Both endurance and strength = better balance
If you want to feel better and improve your quality of life, contact Dr. Grandfield to find out how to get started. Getting aligned is the first step to empowering your body and mind in any endeavor. 

CategoriesBlog Live Fit.

Massage.  A luxury, or necessary component of taking care of your body?

If you’re like most people, you might consider massage to be a luxury.  Something you do every now and then on a “spa” day.  Yes, a massage is relaxing, but it’s so much more than that.
Here are three healthy reasons to book a massage today:

Relieves stress.  Experts estimate that upwards of ninety percent of disease is stress related.  Nothing ages us faster than high stress. Guess where that stress shows up??  In the body.  More often than not stress tends to manifest in the shoulders, neck, and abdomen.  While eliminating stress altogether may not be possible, a massage can, without a doubt, help manage your stress. Nothing beats the power of human touch.

Improves Flexibility & Circulation.  By working on muscles, connective tissue (fascia), tendons, ligaments, and joints, regular massage can improve your flexibility and range of motion to help keep your joints more fluid and less injury prone.  A chain reaction of fluidity in the body is better blood circulation that occurs as a result of receiving massage therapy on a regular basis.  Massage therapy can also help heal old, and new injuries and has been used for centuries to manage pain in a natural way.

Improves the Immune System.  A surprising benefit of massage therapy is that it can actually increase the white blood cell count in the body.  These are the cells that protect our body from diseases and infections.  Although the best thing to do when you are feeling a cold coming on is to stay home and get plenty of rest, receiving a massage once you are no longer contagious can help ease the recovery process.

As if that wasn’t enough, a regular massage helps improve your quality of sleep, which is a big part of any recovery process and good health in general – and there’s so much more!  Do yourself a favor, and book a massage today!
As luck would have it, we have two massage therapists on site.
Contact them today:
Anna Alpert and Amanda Baker.
Flow Members receive $15 off of their first massage.

CategoriesBlog Live Fit. Nourish.

You Can’t Out-Exercise Bad Eating Habits

As we  begin 2016, on top of the list of goals for the year is to get healthy.  This can take many forms: losing weight, going to the gym. running a marathon, eating better, moving more, better posture, eight hours of sleep, etc.

However, many of us run into pitfalls on our way to health.  Here are three popular roadblocks and ways to combat them:

1)  The Reward.  When you reward yourself for making it to that early morning class, or holding your own at the evening bootcamp, do you immediately think of food?  Have you ever thought, “I’ve been so good today about eating and exercise, I totally deserve a brownie!“?  For many of us, food is a reward.  And that type of reward makes sense, if you’re punishing yourself with your diet or exercise routine.
However, in the long run, these rewards don’t work.  Why would you reward yourself for exercising or eating “right” with junk?  Don’t get me wrong, having a piece of chocolate or brownie isn’t going to kill you, but bribing yourself to get to the gym or eat vegetables with the promise of a sugary reward (be it food or drink) is not the way to develop healthy eating habits.
Instead of using food as a reward, find something else that motivates you:  Free time. Pampering.  A luxury item.  Adventure.  Reward yourself with something that adds to your life, and gets you closer to the person you want to be.

2)  Eliminating Fat.  Embracing a low-fat or no fat diet is something we’ve been encouraged to do by food marketing.  However, foods that are labeled No Fat or Low Fat do not mean you can eat more of them.  In fact, most of these foods are full of ingredients no one can pronounce.  Fat is good for you (go ahead and repeat that).  You need a decent amount of good fat in your diet, as all of the cells in your body are made up of two layers of fats, which will be composed of healthy fats or harmful fats, depending on what you eat.
Go ahead and eat real food.  Use real butter, or olive oil.  Eat avocados, walnuts, almonds, and salmon. Ban anything labeled low fat or no fat from your kitchen.

3)  Starting your day with carbs.  Cereal.  It’s easy right?  But not so great for your mind and body. Not only is cereal loaded with carbohydrates, it also tends to be high in sugar as well.  If you begin your day with carbs and sugar, you’ll trigger an insulin response and end up feeling a little foggy in the brain, with no energy.  Most people counter this with caffeine – which begins a vicious cycle throughout the day.
Better to begin your day with protein and a healthy fat.  This will help keep your blood sugar steady, your energy even and your brain ready to go.  An egg and avocado toast anyone?

Support your training with a well balanced eating plan.  This will ensure you’re not wasting your time at the gym.

CategoriesBlog Live Fit. Move.

5 Tips for Successful New Year’s Resolutions

As we round the corner and enter the last stretch of 2015, your thoughts may turn toward the New Year, and resolutions. Between 40 and 50% of us actually make resolutions, and losing weight or being fit and healthy rank among the top resolutions made each year.  However, 25% of people give up their resolutions inside two weeks, and 46% throw in the towel after five months.
Making a resolution doesn’t have to be difficult.  Here are five tips to make achieving your New Year’s goals easier:

1)  Start Small.  Steer clear of lofty or unreasonable resolutions.  Yes, you might want to be fit and healthy, or lose weight, but it’s not going to happen over night.  Resolving to go to the gym every day when you haven’t been in for months is a tad bit overzealous.  Begin with two-three days a week.  Get a feel for success, and then up the ante.

2) Schedule It.  If your resolution isn’t planned into your calendar, when were you planning on achieving it?  As a whole, we are terrible at scheduling time for ourselves, but oh-so-willing to fill our schedule pleasing others.  Not this year. Make a plan and schedule it in.  Treat your resolution as a commitment to yourself.

3)  Let go of deprivation.  One of the number one resolutions is to lose weight.  In order to do this, many people adhere to strict diets or intense exercise regimes.  Neither of which are sustainable in the long term.  In setting resolutions or goals, choose ones that make you feel good ~ that energize and excite you, rather than make you want to hide under a blanket.

4)  Minimize decision making.  Many of us suffer from decision fatigue and don’t even realize it. Decision fatigue (according to Wikipedia) refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual, after a long session of decision making.  Think of this long session as your typical day:  choosing what to wear to, what to eat, how to get to work, and the list could go on.  Minimize your decision making by automating some decisions:  eat the same breakfast each day.  Wear your gym clothes to bed.  Exercise every Monday/Wednesday/Friday.  Make it easy with decisions pre-made for you.

5)  Learn to say no.  Saying yes to one thing, can mean saying no to something important.  Remember what your goals are as you make choices.  Saying yes to happy hour can mean saying no to that workout, family time, or down time that you’ve been craving.  Know what you want, and where you’re going, and make decisions accordingly.

Remember, change happens daily.  If you want to see big things happen in your life, start with tiny steps.

Flow Fitness Seattle - Blog - Five Reasons - Gym, Health Club - South Lake Union, WashingtonCategoriesBlog Live Fit. Move.

The Holiday Season is here, will your work out suffer? Five reasons to exercise.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, with December hot on it’s heels. If you’re like most, your exercise routine suffers during the holidays. In December a workout gets squeezed out by shopping, parties, family time and other various activities. Many people look ahead to January, with plans to start again with a vengeance once the new year rolls around. At Flow, we challenge you to stick with your routine, even if you have to modify it to make it happen. Here are five reasons to get your workout in:

  • Exercise reduces stress, and increases energy. Stress is an inevitable part of life – especially during the holidays, with many demands on your time and patience. Exercise is an excellent coping mechanism. Studies show that it is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and enhancing overall cognitive function. If your body feels better, so does your mind.
  • Exercise boosts your immune system. Who wants to miss out on holiday fun because of a cold? Physical activity may help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. This may reduce your chance of getting a cold, flu, or other airborne illness – reason enough to exercise each and every day!
  • Exercise can help combat holiday weight gain. Most of us indulge, if only just a little, during the holidays. Why not burn some of those extra calories with a good workout?
  • Even a little goes a long way. You may not have time for an hour long work out – but don’t hang on to to the “all or nothing” attitude. You can benefit from bouts of exercise as short as ten minutes. Sneak in movement in any way you can. Another tip: schedule it in. Many people give up exercise this time of year as something that takes up too much time. Be strategic, and plan ahead.
  • Exercise will be easier when January arrives. Instead of having to start over again in January, keep the momentum going and simply continue your current routine – even better: mix it up with a new class or two. The body loses fitness gains fairly easily, so do yourself a favor and maintain all you have worked toward this year!

Whatever you do, don’t think of exercise as just one more thing on your to-do list this holiday season. Think of it as a valiant act of self care. Move your body today!

CategoriesBlog Live Fit. Move.

I don’t have time to workout.

You’ve heard the excuse.  You may have even used it yourself.

And yet, it’s likely not entirely true.

Have you ever stopped to think what might happen if you don’t exercise?

We often don’t think about health, until it’s too late.  Better to make it a priority right now, rather than wish you did, on your way to yet another doctor’s office.  Exercise has incredible benefits beyond simply being fit and losing weight. Regular exercise improves your mood, slows the aging process, promotes better sleep, boosts energy, reduces stress and actually helps you to get more done.

Four tips to making health a priority:

Me time.  It’s hard to exercise if you’re overwhelmed and can’t fit anything more into your day.  Learn to say no (even if you feel guilty), and build in time just for you.  Tip:  Start small.  15 minutes

Move more.  Walking is cheap and easy.  Walk as much as you can during the day ~ down the hall, out to lunch, running errands.  Schedule your meetings to walk and talk.  Here are seven powerful reasons to do so.

Know your why.  Exercising is not always easy.  There are days when you want to skip the gym or stay in bed rather than run – and that’s fine, every now and then.  If you know your why – and it’s strong – you’ll be more motivated to get moving. What’s your why? 

Make it fun.  Hate the treadmill?  Not coordinated enough for step class?  Don’t do it. Working out is easier if you love what you’re doing.  Find exercise you enjoy and get moving.

Move more, not less.  You’ve got time.  Make health a priority today!