Blog Articles 1

Headed For Burnout Or Are You Already There?

Most businesses really don’t seem to care about their employees’ overall wellbeing, including mental as well as physical. Expectations of high productivity no matter what the cost to the employee seems to be the norm. If production isn’t met the implications are that anyone can be replaced.

I know from personal experience what it feels like to hit burnout after being in the same profession and workplace for over 22 years. I realized the direction the company I was working for no longer matched my values nor did they have realistic expectations on ethical job performance, so I walked away. I realized that the money was not worth my health and happiness and I needed to break the chains from the merry-go-round that held me to the job. I did not want to wake up one day on my deathbed realizing I had been subjected to their expectations of what one is suppose to get out of life.

Hopefully by sharing my story of job burnout and the signs to look for I might be able to help others realize the true meaning of life and their self-worth.

It is difficult to quantify burnout on a statistical level but it appears to be higher in jobs such as healthcare, teachers, policemen, social services etc.

What is Burnout? It is known as at state or level of exhaustion in these areas: emotional, physical, mental, and functional levels due to repeated long tern exposure to demanding situations in the work place. Often appearing in a combination of exhaustion factors due to being highly stressed on a regular bases or working extensively long hours. This leads to poor overall health and wellness due to one neglecting the needs of their body.

What are the signs of Burnout?
• Lack of energy
• Boredom with one’s job
• Lack of desire to excel at one’s job/going through the motions
• Depression
• Rather be doing anything but what your current job requires
• Lack of focus
• Decrease in overall productivity
• Becoming tardy for work or calling in frequently
• Anger and frustration focused on those at work causing issues
• Lack of ability to rest/relax
• Medical/health issues associated with burnout
• Lack of the ability to feel compassion for others
• Turning to food, drugs and alcohol to deal with it

How do we deal with Burnout? First acknowledge it by asking yourself the following questions:
• What is causing the stress and burnout?
• What exactly is it that is getting to me?
• How can I fix it ?
• Do I need to change how I perceive the stressor, how do I react to it?
• Do I need to own the stressor by taking action to address it?

Once you figure out the root of the cause for the burnout attempt to make the necessary adjustments to reverse the burnout level.

But during this process it is important to do the following steps in order to stay healthy:

Take care of you and your needs:
• Get sleep
• Try to improve and enrich your work life by doing other things.
• Improve your life outside of work, exercise, hobbies etc.
• Diversify your life
• Do the best to limit hours worked, do not always be the doormat for the whole department
• Attend workshops for improving one’s skills
• Take your life back, get your control back
• Get help if needed
• Do not forget cardio, which has been shown to decrease burnout significantly in just 4 wks.
• Mindful mediation, deep breathing
• Prayer
• Seek employment elsewhere

Here are some additional tips on burnout prevention with the following exercise methods:
• High/energy exercise: Aerobics
• Yoga: Activates the natural relaxation response of the body
• Tai/Chi
• Pilates
• Group classes or team sports
• Resistive exercises

By introducing one or a combination of exercise methods your body responds by releasing endorphins and hormones that help fight stress. It also takes the focus off of work and on the task at hand when exercising.

Also remember that you must have fuel for the body to be healthy, so if you put cheap gas in your body it does not perform at optimal levels. If you put high-octane gas in your body it will react with optimal performance resulting in a healthier lifestyle. Be sure to get a healthy, complete nutritional intake on a daily basis to help fight burnout.

I hope this article helps if you are feeling stressed, burned out or just want to throw your hands up and walk away from it all. The most important thing is to do what’s best for you and your health. Don’t let someone else dictate how you live your life.

Cindy L. Howard 12/15/2018


Preventing & Assisting Surgery With Exercise

Have You Had An Orthopedic Surgery? What About A Hip Replacement?

My experience with post surgical hip replacement success rates vary depending on the severity, procedure, patient health, quality of post-op Physical Therapy and overall medical services.

Having a client may be a daunting prospect for the average personal trainer but with my 22 years of experience as a Physical Therapy Assistant, I find it refreshing that the client wants to progress above and beyond the basic and often limited therapy programs due to insurance limitations and etc.

As with any client starting a new exercise program it is important to get clearance from the primary care Physician and in the case of someone who has had surgery, from their Orthopedic Physician.
I find it helpful, due to having a working relationship with many orthopedics in my area, to personally contact them informing them of their patient being my new client. This is in case there are any restrictions that I need be aware of, within HIPPA parameters.
Research suggests that 25% of the US population will suffer from osteoarthritis by the age of 85. At the time of this research there were more than 75,000 successful hip replacement procedures completed in the US. On a local level in my observations during my career, depending on the Orthopedic, it ranged from 1 in 5 patients having problems to 1 in 20 having problems after surgery.

Some factors I observed that could hinder a patient’s progress were pain medication disbursement delays by nursing. Another was nursing not putting the patients back to bed after Therapy services had been completed, especially if the patient was obese and often the patient would be up 4 or more hours at a time. Extreme examples of this were when the nurses and techs left a patient up from an AM session, awaiting PTs PM services to place them back to bed upon which time the patients PM session was limited due to exhaustion and pain. This always confused me because the patient was able to work with one PT staff member but a nurse and tech could not place the patient back to bed. I personally placed the sling under difficult patients, but often the patient still suffered from having to be up for long periods of time, which increased their risk for skin breakdowns due to limited mobility and weight shifting abilities. I say this to bring awareness to family members and future patients of possible issues and that these issues can result in complications hindering a patient’s progress and success after surgery.

Also it is not true that PT staff must put the patient back to bed. All medical personnel are trained in proper transfer techniques. It is also fraudulent to have a PT place a patient back to bed without working on teaching them properly, etc, and they should not charge for it. I do not mean to sound jaded because I have put many patients on bedside commodes, back to bed, and changed wet beds, diapers, etc, but I refused to charge for it! To me it was the humane thing to do instead of allowing them to sit up too long or have to wait extended periods of time to use the restroom. Treat everyone as you want to be treated! Many healthcare facilities no longer place the patient’s wellbeing first. It’s about profit with limited staffing, especially techs! This is one reason among many I decided to retire as a PTA and become more proactive as a CPT.

The total hip replacement has seen advances, but it is one of the oldest and most successful replacement procedures. One of the first hip replacement procedures was attempted in Germany in the late 1800s.

Here are a few observations and suggestions regarding orthopedic surgeries:

Short-term Post-op Limitations:
1. Damage done to the joint capsule during the procedure, movement limitations
2. Movement restrictions in traditional replacement for several weeks are: Hip extension, adduction, and external rotation (needs to heal). Note: the proximal hip replacement procedure has fewer restrictions, but candidates must qualify weight wise to have this specific procedure.
3. Soft tissue injuries
4. Rehab protocols to prevent dysfunction

Long-term Post-op Limitations:
1. Bone growth is slow and needs time to heal for stability (Wolfs Law)
2. Limited high impact activities
3. Limited movement due to possible dislocation events
4. Limited overall activates

Mental Stressors
1. Stress of physical limitations
2. Stress of being away from home; hospital, rehab, etc
3. Inability to get quality sleep
4. Fear of dislocation

Total Hip Rehab/PT
1. Bed mobility, walking and exercises
2. Proper pain management
3. Increases to include daily activities and increase total body exercises
4. Increase strength with strengthening exercises
5. Prevent movement compensations by focusing on core stabilization, coordination and strength

In-Home Or Fitness Center Personal Training:
1. Follow Doctor recommendations
2. Follow a customized program
3. Start slow do not overdo it

Sample workout program (first 2 weeks) 1-2 sets for 10-12reps
1. Soft tissue workout: possible roller massage hand held only not with body weight Roll: quads, adductors, hip flexors, and hamstrings 45seconds to 1 min
2. Core: proper breathing techniques can use small weight in prone position if tolerated to help focus on breathing
3. Hip rocking if tolerated
4. Tall kneeling if tolerated

Weeks 3 and 4: 1-2 sets of 12-15 reps
1. Continue to use hand held roller for same areas
2. Core: wall plank
3. Standing Y-T-A’s
4. Tall kneeling chops
5. Balance and stability stagger stance row
6. Hip strength: hip hinge modified with body weight
7. Weighted one arm farmers carry

You cannot stop being active because if you do stop you will loose what you have gained. Never give up and keep fighting and living life to the fullest!

Just because a client has had a hip replacement does not mean trainers should not treat them differently. We should follow a customized program specific to their needs modified to fit their current limitations by following doctors orders. As with any client we need to be aware of the overall client physically and mentally and progress accordingly.

To the individual who has had the hip replacement, you do not have to give up living your life! We as CPTs are here to help you succeed no matter your goals!

Cindy L. Howard 11/26/2018

Beat The Yearly Holiday Curse Of Weight Gain And Stress

The party invitations begin to roll in with Halloween. They increase through Thanksgiving leading up to the chaos of Christmas, ending only with the New Year which then leads to New Years resolutions and eating regrets. The parties at the office, with friends and family or at other social gatherings all come with excess or unhealthy food. This easily contributes to holiday weight gain, exacerbation of disease and medical conditions.

You can relieve stress, burn extra calories and decrease holiday depression by incorporating workouts before, during, and after the holidays to help minimize extra weight gain and holiday blues.

The 15-Minute Dessert Workout
Can be done anywhere with basic equipment such as resistive bands, dumbbells or body weight. 3-5 Sets For 10-12 Reps In A Circuit.
1. Squat to overhead press
2. Plank
3. Dumbbell row or inverted pull-up
4. Walking lunges with twist
The 30-Minute Holiday meal workout
Can be done anywhere with basic equipment such as resistive bands, dumbbells or body weight. 3-5 Sets For 10-12 Reps In A Circuit.
1. Squat to row
2. Floor chest press with dumbbells or push ups
3. One leg triceps press down
4. Plank
5. Jumping jacks or jump rope
6. Bicep curls
7. Lateral lunges

The Rudolph Holiday Workout
Can be done anywhere with basic equipment such as resistive bands, dumbbells or body weight. As many sets as possible with 15 reps per exercise in a 20-25 minute session.
1. Tuck jump squats
2. Push-ups (any variation)
3. Mountain climbers
4. Jumping lunges
5. Bear crawl
6. Lateral lunge
7. Pike to standard push up
8. Burpees
9. Box jumps
10. Plank
Nutrition Tips
1. Eat a wholesome breakfast
2. Avoid grazing
3. Fill up your plate and don’t go back
4. Don’t forget to include those healthy veggies
5. Stay hydrated with water
6. Eat slowly
7. Don’t arrive hungry
8. Do not try to diet
9. Be realistic
10. Eat 2-3 favorites only

How To Beat Holiday Stress
We often overlook the reasons for the holidays, all to often allowing commercialism to dictate our happiness and reality of the holiday. How can we combat it?
1.  Meditation with the muscle and mind: (Deep breathing and muscle tightening and relaxation)
2. Get a massage
3. Relax with your favorite music
4. Yoga
5. A good workout
6. Visual imagery
7.  Learn that saying no is ok
We can enjoy the holidays with family and friends while reaching a healthy balance for our health and wellness all while avoiding the dreaded holiday curse of weight gain and stress.

Hopefully this article will assist you in reaching your own balance during the next few months.

Cindy L. Howard 11/18/2018


Clarifying One’s Fitness Goals - S.M.A.R.T

We often use phrases to clarify or identify our fitness goals to others, and to ourselves. This can lead to frustration, unrealistic expectations and ultimately stop trying all together.

We can properly develop our fitness goals so we can focus on the process and not the final product by breaking the goals into stepping-stones with clear and precise steps. This will give us a better chance at succeeding with our fitness objectives. It also comes down to on how hard we are willing to work to meet our goals.

Here is a method to assist in making our goals realistic:


S = SPECIFIC: Clearly identified
M = MEASURABLE: Quantifiable
A = ATTAINABLE: Challenging, but can be accomplished
R = REALISTIC: Objective, one is willing and able to work toward
T = TIMELY: Specific date of completion

Once we know what is needed to have a realistic goal we need to develop a game plan.
• Ask yourself what is your main objective or goal?
• What is your date for achievement of the goal?
• How and what do I need to achieve the goal?
• What are the barriers that could prevent me from meeting my goal and how do I overcome them?

Once these questions have been answered you can start toward your goal achievement, but we need to understand that regular reviewing of your progress is critical to staying on track for success.
This can be done by taking measurements, photos, keeping a fitness journal and having other assessments taken by a certified personal trainer.

Cindy Howard 9/23/2018

Exercise Program Suggestions For Children

Many children do not have access to a gym or get to play sports. Some schools even have to limit or cut out daily physical activity altogether. Combined with heavier use of technology such as video games, computers and television, children are becoming increasingly sedentary. This can result in functional and developmental limitations, increased risk of sickness and diseases that form much earlier in life, especially if they have a poor nutritional intake.
When developing a fitness program for children there are fundamental physiological differences from adults that need to be addressed.

Physiologic Considerations
• Vo2 peak is similar to adults when adjusted for body weight. It is higher in young females
• Submaximal oxygen demands are higher when walking and running, and is less efficient than adults
• Sweating rate is delayed response, due to immature thermoregulatory system
• Sufficient levels of glycolytic enzymes; sustain high-level of intensity when training

Implications of exercise with children when compared to adults
• Perform endurance tasks well
• Greater chance of fatigue
• Sustained heat production with high intensity training
• Less efficient at performing long bouts (10 seconds to 90 seconds) of high intensity training
• Difficulty with high levels of heat, humidity and other environmental stimulants
Considerations for health and fitness programs in children
• 60 minutes of physical activity daily
• Focus on developmentally age appropriate activities for elementary school age children
• Adolescents need moderate to vigorous physical activity, 60 minutes each session 3-5 days a week; 3 days a week if vigorous

Resistant training for children/adolescents
• 1-2 sets of 8-10 exercises
• 8-12 reps per exercise
• 2-3 days per week, 30 minute
• Add additional 5-10 minutes for proper warm-up and cool-downs

Considerations in athletic training for children
• Progression of aerobic training volume should not increase more than 10% per period of adaptation
• Intense aerobic exercises exceeding 10 seconds could be harmful due to low tolerance levels; stage training may be helpful to balance aerobic levels based on each individuals fitness tolerance and abilities
• Resistance exercise should focus on proprioceptive skills with challenging yet controlled movements with 6-8 repetitions per set for strength training or 20 reps for increasing endurance
• 2-3 days a week
• Increase overloading initially by increasing the repetitions and then resistance

Basic training guidelines for children/youth exercise programs
Walking, running, games, activities, sports, water, resistance etc
5-7 days a week
Moderate to vigorous cardio training
60 minute sessions per day

Assessments analysis:
• Overhead squat
• 10 push-ups if tolerated
• Single-leg testing (3-5 single leg squats if tolerated)
Will be dependent on phase of training (static, active-isolated, dynamic)

Resistance training:
• 1-2 sets of 8-12 repetitions
• 40-70% level 2-3 days a week
• Phase 1 mastered first
• Phases 2-5 reserved for mature adolescents on basis of physicians orders and dynamic control

Special considerations:
• Progression based on postural control
Additional research on resistance training with children/youth/adolescents have concluded that it is safe and effective, improving their health and fitness levels which decreases risk of injuries when compared to contact sports.

The most common injuries associated with resistance training are:
• Sprains
• Strains

Both injuries are usually due to poor, non-integrated training methods. Rarely do injuries result from a well-designed scientific program.
Most research shows improvement in strength, greater than what happens with normal non-exercise related growth development. Untrained children can improve their strength 30-40% after 8 weeks with a progressive resistance program and with improved motor skills and performance.

In addition to cardio and resistance training there are Speed, Agility, and Quickness programs that are available for youth. It is an effective way of exposing the youth to a variety of physiologic, neuromuscular, and biomechanical demands, which help develop a stronger foundation of improved physical abilities.
It can also decrease the risk of sports related injuries and increase exercise participation chances later in life. It also can help improve their overall health and wellness.

Examples of SAQ program for youth:

A: Red Light, Green Light

• Children line up shoulder to shoulder along the base of a designated field (min 20 yards long)
• One child is chosen to be the stoplight. Place this child at the opposite end of the field
• The stoplight turns his or her back to the other youth and yells green light
• Still with his or her back to the others, the stop light yells “ red light” and then turns around
• On hearing red light the other youth are to stop movement and remain still/ motionless
• If the stoplight sees anyone moving he or she tells him or her to start over at the base/starting line of the field
• This is repeated at arbitrary intervals until someone is able to reach and touch the stoplight
• This participant then becomes the stoplight

B: Follow the Snake
• Instruct the trainer to lay 5-10 jump ropes or one long rope on the ground in a random S pattern
• The youth line up on one side of the rope(s) and keeping a foot on each side of the rope they follow the pattern of the rope first forward to the end and then backward to the beginning
• Time each youth to create a competition
• There are many ways to incorporate strength, endurance, and cardio by entering the child’s/youths world by using games, completions, challenges etc

Other Exercise Programs

A. Freeze Tag:

• No standing if not frozen, everyone must be active in someway
• Round 1 frozen player must stand on one leg until unfrozen by a player frozen player must task such as 10 squats that is picked by the tagger from a list of 5 exercises on dry erase board
• Round 2 frozen player must have must stay in plank position until tagger unfreezes them pick an exercise from the list again
• Repeat 12-25 minutes for cardiovascular fitness session

B. Relay-Race:
• Set up 10 cones approximately 3 ft. apart in a vertical line
• Set the last cone 6 ft. from the 9th one
• Round one zigzag line stop last cone do 10 push-ups the run backwards zigzagging backward through the cones, at starting cone do 10 squats
• Then tag the next teammate, (keep up with times if only doing one line) next player must do 10 squats before running
• Repeat until everyone had run the cones and the winning team gets to pick and extra exercise to be done by the loosing team
• Round two can become more complicated by adding a speed ladder completing 3 speed ladder drills
• 2-3 races for 15-25 minute time frame

C. Spartan Race:
Spartan races, or tough mudders, are popular races for adults that have began including youth. Design an obstacle course.
• Set up 5-10 stations
• Station 1 - abdominal exercise
• 5-7 hurdles they must jump to get to station 2
• Station 2 - light dumbbells 10 squats, standing shoulder presses, push-ups
• Must zigzag through the cones to get to station 3
• Station 3 - 10 banded bicep curls, rows assist youth for safety
• Speed ladder between station 3 and 4 perform speed drill to get to station 4
• Station 4 - light medicine ball 10 roman deadlifts, squats, ball squat jumps then sprint to the finish line
• The winner gets to choose from a list 3 new exercises to complete in order to get to each station
• Repeat 2-3 times, 30-45 minutes

After ensuring that the programs are safe, effective and appropriate for the youth the most important thing is to make it fun so the youth are left with a positive relationship with physical fitness.

For those youth who are already competing in sports, a fun program can always be designed in order to assist them in enhancing performance and decrease the risk of injury.

Cindy L. Howard 07/24/2018
References: NASM, CDC & Spartan


What Are Your Priorities?

Last fall I was with my friend and fitness expert Erin Stern. We were discussing my training progress and I commented that I was considering a career change. I was thinking about doing something different than physical therapy. She had been with me throughout my fitness journey, so she knew my history. As we were enjoying a post workout snack I made a joke about my training and said, “well, its not like it’s my job”.

I could tell it bothered her that I would make such a statement. She called me out on it pretty quickly. For those who know Erin, you know it was coming from her heart, from a desire for me to reach the optimal level of success personally and professionally.

At that time Erin seemed to know before I did where I belonged in my career, as a personal trainer. She told me that I just needed time to figure it out and to get my priorities lined out. I had forgotten about this conversation until I was recently reminded of it when a client stated that their finances where tight and they needed to hold off on any further training. I understand that things can happen and we need to find balance in our life and with our finances, but I also know from personal experience how easy it is to put other things ahead of our health. I kept doing the same thing years ago before getting serious about my own health. I finally came to the realization that my health was far more important than other material things.

My grandmother says it better than just about anyone when she asks, “Is it a want or a need?” We need our health but we want someone else to take responsibility for it. As technology has progressed, so has our access to more material things and entertainment. Our grandparents and even parents did not have access to these things just a few years ago. My grandmother lived through the depression. She did not have access to large grocery stores, fast food on every corner or credit cards. She often had to get a line of in store credit at the local family owned grocer just to put food on the table. My parents did not have the same privileges we do today. I did not have a cell phone until I was in my twenties and I survived without one back then.

As a society we seem to be regressing rather than progressing in some ways. With technology and modern conveniences many do not take real responsibility for their actions. They do not set realistic priorities nor do they take proper positive action to make their lives better, especially when it comes to their health. Many people seem to live only for conveniences, entertainment and a lifestyle that can lead to a lack of quality living dues to poor health. To achieve these things we can end up sacrificing family, friends and health, even working 60-80 hours a week to end up living from paycheck to paycheck, but never achieving real happiness.

I am not saying this fits everyone, but it does happen. Does this sound familiar? Children getting ready for school all the while focused on their tablet or smart phone while eating processed, high sugar foods such as cereal or pop-tarts. They then head off to school, then to a part time job or an after school activity with no time to eat a proper meal. The quick and easy method is to stop in at a fast food place to pick up something to eat, very little of which is healthy and properly nutritional.

We live in a fast pace society where our priorities have become skewed due to a “hunger” for material things. Things that often come before our spiritual and physical wellbeing, two of the most important aspects of our existence. Our health priorities often get ignored and we run to the Doctor to get our symptoms addressed, but often never address the real cause, neglecting our overall health.

Each of us needs to take a moment and ask ourselves:
“What are the three most important things in my life?”

A few years back I had a patient who shared with me the following story. She and her husband had both worked long hours for many years. They sacrificed time with her children, and made bad health choices along the way in order to accumulate material wealth and enjoy material things. Yes, their children were privileged, had nice new vehicles, expensive clothing, and went to good colleges, but as the tears rolled down her cheeks she told me, “The kids do not come around anymore. We only get occasional phone calls and sometimes get to see them on holidays.” She told me this as her husband lay in a hospital bed with only a few days to live. He had been told many times that he needed to change his lifestyle, eating habits, physical activity and to decrease his stress. He did not listen. He thought he could wait for retirement to worry about it where he could then enjoy life with his wife and travel to go see his kids and grandkids, but it was not to be. Three days after his retirement party he suffered a major medical event. It ended his life 6 days later. As the family came in and out of his room, tears continually falling, his only wish was to have just a little more time. The three things this gentleman thought were the most important, wealth, status, and enjoying himself ended up costing him everything.

The top two excuses when it comes to proper fitness and nutrition are:
#1 I do not have the time
#2 I do not have the money

I Do Not Have The Time
What is time? Time is a point measured in hours and minutes past midnight or noon; indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future.

A Look At Time Management
• Planning and exercising conscious control of time spent on a specific activity
• Increase effectiveness, efficiency, or productivity
• Prioritizing demands of social, home life, employment, personal interests and commitment to a healthy life style through fitness and nutrition
• Meta-activity; goals to maximize overall benefits for you

How To Be Successful With Time Management
• Use a journal to write down time spent on your daily activities
• Create a conductive environment for effectiveness
• Set priorities, carrying out daily life activities around the prioritization
• The related process of decreasing of time spent on non-priorities
• Incentives to modify behavior to ensure success
• Organize and give family members chores to help free up time (reward/consequences for lack of follow through with the children)

Examples Of Time Usages:
• Tasks that are urgent and important = Crying baby, fire in kitchen, dog needs to go out
• Tasks that are important but not urgent = Fix dinner, pay bills, exercise
• Tasks that are unimportant but urgent = Interruptions from family
• Tasks that are unimportant and not urgent = Social media, TV, surfing internet
• Learn to say NO. Your time is valuable and you do not spread yourself too thin by always putting others first

Lack Of Time, Fitting In Fitness & Healthy Nutrition
When priorities and goals are set, fitness and healthy nutrition can be achieved.

Nutrition Excuses & Solutions:
• Excuse: I do not have time to go grocery shopping
• Solution: Most major chains have drive up grocery pick up, just as fast as going through a drive through
• Excuse: I do not have time to cook
• Solution: Use a crockpot. Placing frozen vegetables and meat into a crockpot will take less than 15 minutes a day and cook while you are at work. An insta-pot also works well and can have a meal prepared within 15 minutes. Set aside time on the weekend to do meal prep with meats and vegetables, and freeze them to eat on throughout the week.
• Excuse: My children wont eat anything but fast food.
• Solution: As adults we should not let children dictate what they eat. Re-train them by fixing healthy versions of their favorite foods such as baked crusted chicken strips with baked potato wedges. A close friend and mentor who was also a Doctor wanted one of his grandchildren to start eating healthy and to stop demanding junk food every night. He prepared baked pork chops, potatoes and green beans, which the child refused to eat so he let her go to bed hungry. He later observed his grandchild eating a pork chop in bed, loving every bite.
• Excuse: I do not know how to eat healthy.
• Solution: There are many free educational materials available on nutrition to anyone who wants to learn. Places such as the local health department, health food stores, your family doctor, registered dieticians, and qualified local personal trainers.

Fitness Excuses & Solutions:
• Excuse: I do not have time to go to gym
• Solution: Cut back on entertainment such as TV, social media, internet, gaming, etc.
• Excuse: I can’t afford to go to a gym.
• Solution: Exercise at home or a local park. There are effective programs that can be done in the convenience of your home and neighborhood using only body weight or inexpensive equipment such as bands.
• Excuse: Watching TV is quality time with my kids and spouse.
• Solution: Spend time with them doing a physically active game or sport, go to a local park and spend time talking while walking, lead by example.

Not Having The Finances To Stay Healthy
A good place to start is by budgeting your finances and see what might be reallocated.

Some interesting data from the 2016 US Bureau Of Labor Statistics
• How often are you eating out? The average American household spends $58.00 a week or $251.00 per month (Above and beyond regular grocery expenditures)
• How much are you spending on entertainment? The average American household spends $56.00 a week on entertainment or $243.00 per month
• When added together these come to $114.00 per week or $494.00 per month.
• The average personal training package which includes two 60 minute sessions per week costs $280.00 per month. Add to that an average of $30 per month for a gym membership and that totals only $310.00 per month.
• For the average American this would leave $46.00 per week or $184.00 per month for other things.

Do I Need A Personal Trainer Or Gym Membership?
Gym memberships and trainers are not necessarily needed for getting healthy, but they are extremely useful in establishing a good foundation when it comes to ones fitness and nutritional knowledge. For someone that does not have any experience in fitness and nutrition, a personal trainer could be the best place to start. Qualified personal trainers will perform an in depth fitness assessment and then develop a customized plan that will address the individual’s needs and goals. They do this by providing a safe and effective program designed especially for the individual and then will adjust the plan as the client’s goals progress and change. A qualified personal trainer has also spent their personal time and money to obtain their certification, so remember the laborer is worthy of their hire and should not be expected to train you for free.

Still not convinced? Some food for thought.
In 2016 the average American spent over $10,345.00 per year on medical expenses including insurance. This could be reduced by each of us living a healthier lifestyle and becoming more physically fit. Obesity is a growing epidemic that is now drastically affecting our children. Obesity results in other diseases being seen earlier in life such as type two diabetes and heart disease in children as young as 12.
• 75% of all diseases can be prevented, reversed, or improved by the standard recommended daily fitness and healthy eating guides.
• Healthier living can slow the aging process along with improving balance and mobility in older individuals, which in turn assists in prevention of injuries related to falls and accidents.
• Healthier living can decrease missed workdays, work related injuries and improve productivity of employees.
• Healthier living can reduce medical costs for the individual and employers.

A Few Questions For Us To Ask Ourselves
• Do I need to re-prioritize?
• Do I want to live longer?
• Do I want to have a higher quality of life?
• Can I complete daily activities without being exhausted?
• Are material things worth more to me than my life?

Each of us needs to give ourselves the best chance possible at a better life by pushing the reset button and realigning our priorities with our fitness goals. I took that opportunity several years ago and built my new wellness foundation. It is from my own fitness journey that I would like to give everyone food for thought when it comes to living the best life possible. It is in reach for everyone.

If you find a personal trainer who is truly passionate about helping others they will work with you and help you to achieve your goals.

So what are your priorities? How much is your health and life worth?

Cindy L. Howard 07/04/18

Exercise Imagery:

Imagery is a cognitive process during which people use their minds to create (or recreate) experiences that are similar to real-life situations. It is a self support system that can assist with ones fitness journey.

The individual imagines or internalizes experiences that assist and improve performance while exercising. This form of stimulation occurs in the mind, which cannot determine what is real, verses what is imagined. The mind can turn the positive imagery into a powerful tool to assist in the achievement of ones goals.

Research shows that if an individual visualizes while using all of their senses, focusing on a particular exercise or training session, it produces positive feelings that increase confidence and focus which provides a better outcome when training. This assists with exercise adherence, increasing the rate of success toward the individual’s fitness goals.

Who uses Exercise Imagery?

One group who utilizes this method of visual imagery is Olympic athletes. If you watched the most recent winter Olympics you might have noticed the athletes listening to music while moving their bodies in rhythmic patterns. Why? They where using this technique to visualize the course and their routines before it was time to compete.

• Visual imagery allows a person to get the most out of their training session
• Increases focus therefore increasing efficiency
• Increases performance ability while decreasing time to a goal success
• Staying motivated
• Maintaining proper form and optimal performance

How does one get started with positive imagery while using all their senses?
• Practice
• Quality visualization over quantity
• Set your own realistic scene
• Plan ahead for real time application
• Block out all distractions

This is just one method on how to enhance ones performance, and exercise adherence. It can often be combined with other methods such as listening to music, self pep talks, etc.

Cindy L. Howard 06/17/18


How To Choose The Right Personal Trainer

Personal trainers can play an essential part in your health and wellness, but a bad personal trainer can hinder your progress and cause harm.

Considering hiring a personal trainer is a big step in the right direction on the wellness journey to better health. If you are willing to invest your time, money, and trust in a personal trainer then you need to make the right choice.

So where do you start?
• A good place to start is a local gym or fitness center.
• If you are not comfortable with a gym atmosphere there are personal trainers that will come to your home. This could save you time and money by not having to buy a gym membership, which includes travel time and gas expense.
• You can also purchase just a plan without the one-on-one training. Qualified trainers can customize a plan to meet your needs, which you can then use to train on your own.
• A good place to begin is by doing an online search.
• Another way would be to ask around and see if someone you know has any suggestions or knows of a good trainer (word of mouth).

When I first began my search for a trainer I observed the ones at the local gym along with their clients. After several months I noticed that none of their client’s were making any progress and they seemed to be doing the same exercises over and over.

While talking to my cousin she suggested a personal trainer she had met once and was friends with on Facebook. After looking through other various trainer’s websites, client results, and overall training techniques I began building a plan for what I was looking for. I finally went with my cousin’s original suggestion and chose Erin Stern out of Tampa, FL.

We should not short change ourselves and try to find the trainer that best meets our needs and goals. We should not settle for a one size fits all personal trainer.

Warning signs:
• The trainer puts you on a machine and walks away (taking up a large portion of your session time)
• No noticeable progress with current clients (Yes, the client gets out of their session what they put into it; however, as a trainer it is our job to hold you accountable and assist you with barriers that may be preventing you from progressing. Otherwise it comes down to ineffective training!)
• Body shaming to motivate
• Only using one style of training
• Does not develop a complete workout
• Not flexible with their time
• Ignores proper body mechanics and form
• Does not educate or empower clients
• Promises quick results
• Poor social skills
• Works out with their clients
• Does not develop a custom program to meet your needs (uses the same program for all clients)
• Frequently cancels appointments

Tips On Finding The Right Personal Trainer:
• Are they qualified to do the job and certified by a reputable organization such as: NASM, NSCA, CSCS, ACE, AFAA
• CPR/AED certified
• Insured
• Know what motivates you and choose the training style accordingly
• Ask for evidence of training success such as testimonials, additional education or referrals
• Define special conditions (if you have special needs or medical conditions make sure the trainer has the proper education and training to train you)
• Take your time, do not rush
• Do they regularly obtain continuing education and do research on latest fitness developments?
• Do they have contracts, policies and procedures on training?
• Do they offer free consultation that includes a fitness assessment?
• Does the assessment address individual deficits or is it a one size fits all evaluation?
• What are their rates and session lengths?
• Is their schedule adaptive or flexible?
• Are they passionate about their career?
• What is their strategy for preventing and dealing with injuries?
• Do they have specializations? (Nutrition, elderly, sports, injury, pregnancy, etc)
• How do they track progress?

A personal trainer will teach the client proper form in order to reduce injuries and address muscle and/or postural imbalances that are found during an assessment. The assessment should also determine the client’s current fitness level. This includes cardio, musculature and body structure used for developing a systematic, safe and effective plan that’s just for you.

The one-size fits all plan type does not belong in health and wellness when it comes to personalized fitness goals. Cookie cutter plans can emphasize limited parts of the body using only machines or limited weights and do not address core, flexibility or corrective exercise training.

If someone is going to offer a free fitness assessment or program, it is imperative that they create an individualized plan for every client. This allows them to address any imbalances a client may have. A good trainer will create a customized training program that matches their client’s current fitness level by focusing not just on their goals, but also by addressing their overall health and wellness needs.

Personal training is a passion for me. With it I can take a proactive approach to wellness rather than taking a reactive approach for over 22 years as a physical therapy assistant. It is about paying it forward and helping others to succeed in life.

We should provide our clients the tools necessary to be successful with their goals. We should hold them accountable, be a motivator, mentor, educator, and friend. A personal trainer should stand by their client’s side throughout their wellness journey, guiding them to a healthier lifestyle.

Cindy L. Howard 06/08/2018

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