(810) 750-1996 PH
Fenton Fitness (810) 750-0351 PH
Fenton Physical Therapy (810) 750-1996 PH
Linden Physical Therapy (810) 735-0010 PH
Milford Physical Therapy (248) 685-7272 PH

Learn more about Rehab, Sports Medicine & Performance

goals

Seven Habits for Long Term Success–Part 2

There are hundreds, if not thousands of diets that have been used throughout history. The intent of most diets is to lose weight and bodyfat. Diets that “work” will reduce your intake of calories. This can be done by reducing or eliminating certain food groups, types of food, or macronutrients. If the diet reduces caloric intake enough, then an individual will lose weight and body fat. A good diet will encourage the intake of vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and lean proteins, but these aren’t mandatory for weight loss and fat loss. The problem with dieting alone is that good nutritional skills and habits are not typically emphasized so they do not last. Once the “diet” ends, then we revert back to old broken habits and lose all of our progress.

At Fenton Fitness, we utilize the Precisions Nutrition system of habit-based nutrition coaching. We know that in order to change, our actions need to change. And in order to make lasting changes, actions need to remain changed. This is where a habit-based approach comes in. Most people know how to eat better or what they can do to lose weight. What they lack are the skills and action steps to make that a reality. With our Nutrition Coaching clients, we have a 52-week curriculum that helps clients work through obstacles and motivations. We introduce new habits every two weeks along with daily lessons that reinforce and teach the importance of each habit. Each habit builds off of the previous one, mastering one before moving on. For most people, two weeks is a good time frame to get a good grip on each habit, but If there is difficulty, we simply spend more time on that habit until the client is ready to move on.

The six habits which back up the foundation of our program will take most of our clients twelve weeks to work through. These six habits will serve anyone looking to improve their eating habits and can be adapted to virtually any food preference and goal. This series will describe the basics of our program.

Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, CSFC, Pn1

Stop when 80% Full: (week 2-4)

This is the second “anchor habit”. To lose fat, clients usually have to eat less than they do now.  “80% full” is not a specific number, but rather an idea: Eat until you are “just satisfied” or “no longer hungry” but not full or stuffed.  This habit continues to teach appetite awareness, building intuitive understanding and control of hunger/fullness. Over time, you will learn to sense your hunger and satiety cues properly, as well as distinguish physical hunger from cravings.  This habit helps you analyze eating habits as a process (rather than something that “just happens”). You can identify situations/cues that contribute to your eating habits and improve mindfulness.  This habit puts the burden of action on you–you have to struggle to figure this out.  This is a “hard” habit: harder to do, but simpler to understand so give yourself time to figure this out. This can be mentally, emotionally, or physically uncomfortable.  At first, you may not be able to feel hunger or fullness or any stomach cues. Try to keep learning, and pay attention to any signs that you are physically hungry or full, such as hunger cues, fullness cues, and satiety cues.  Hunger cues include “hunger headache”; light-headedness or “spaced out”; being “hangry” (hungry + angry); growling or empty-feeling stomach; etc. Over-fullness cues (ate too much) include feeling stuffed/bloated; heartburn; feeling nauseated or gassy; feeling heavy and sluggish; etc.  Satiety cues (ate just enough) include feeling energized and no longer hungry; feeling generally satisfied; feeling as though you could get up from the table and do something (such as go for a walk); etc.

You may need to learn what “100% full” or even “120% full” is first, before you can get to “80%”.  Once you learn your cues, you can learn to stop short of “stuffed” or plan to eat before you get too hungry to make good decisions. Rest assured that although you should start working on this anchor habit now, there is no time frame that you must have it mastered by. Those with chronic stomach upset may find that this habit plus the previous one actually help your condition, possibly to the point where you cut down or get off stomach medications.

Eat Lean Protein at Each Meal: (Week 4-6)

We need protein for almost every metabolic process in the body. Making sure to get enough protein will help preserve lean mass (i.e. bone and muscle), as well as help you feel fuller longer.  This is an “easy” habit that is easy to understand and generally well accepted as do-able by most individuals.  This habit clicks with most people, as it finally feels like you are getting a nutritional strategy by being told what to eat. This habit adds food instead of taking it away, which helps people feel less “deprived”.

One of the biggest aspects of this habit is learning and understanding what foods are actually high in protein (it’s not almond milk, nuts, or bacon).  Having a shopping list before going to the store with protein rich foods you enjoy is a must when doing your grocery trip.  At first, it doesn’t really matter what specific foods you choose as long as you get into the habit of adding protein to meals.  This habit is most challenging for vegetarian and especially vegans.  In these cases, more thought and planning will be needed to set up meals.  Buying, preparing, and having high protein foods easily available will greatly improve your success with this habit.  Try to create a menu for your week so you know and understand how you will incorporate protein dense foods at each meal.  Understand what a serving of protein looks like (1-1.5 palms for women, 1-2 palms for men).  Servings size may need to be adjusted based on meal frequency, goals, and food tolerance.

Seven Habits for Long Term Success–Part 1

There are hundreds, if not thousands of diets that have been used throughout history. The intent of most diets is to lose weight and bodyfat. Diets that “work” will reduce your intake of calories. This can be done by reducing or eliminating certain food groups, types of food, or macronutrients. If the diet reduces caloric intake enough, then an individual will lose weight and body fat. A good diet will encourage the intake of vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and lean proteins, but these aren’t mandatory for weight loss and fat loss. The problem with dieting alone is that good nutritional skills and habits are not typically emphasized so they do not last. Once the “diet” ends, then we revert back to old broken habits and lose all of our progress.

At Fenton Fitness, we utilize the Precisions Nutrition system of habit-based nutrition coaching. We know that in order to change, our actions need to change. And in order to make lasting changes, actions need to remain changed. This is where a habit-based approach comes in. Most people know how to eat better or what they can do to lose weight. What they lack are the skills and action steps to make that a reality. With our Nutrition Coaching clients, we have a 52-week curriculum that helps clients work through obstacles and motivations. We introduce new habits every two weeks along with daily lessons that reinforce and teach the importance of each habit. Each habit builds off of the previous one, mastering one before moving on. For most people, two weeks is a good time frame to get a good grip on each habit, but If there is difficulty, we simply spend more time on that habit until the client is ready to move on.

The six habits which back up the foundation of our program will take most of our clients twelve weeks to work through. These six habits will serve anyone looking to improve their eating habits and can be adapted to virtually any food preference and goal. This series will describe the basics of our program.

Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, CSFC, Pn1

Take Time:
I hear it over and over from our clients: “I’m busy, I don’t have time to eat right.” I get it. You’re busy, we’re busy too. When you’re busy, you need to have a plan to get the important stuff done because getting into shape won’t happen by accident. Remember, nobody is going to “give” you time. You have to take that time. Create time, carve it out, grab it, defend it like a mad man once you’ve got it. Because that time is an appointment with YOU.

Here’s what a many people find about setting that time aside. Making time puts YOU in control.
Whatever your reasons for being busy (and rushed), I’m sure they’re good ones (except maybe that netflix or social media binge time). And whatever your reason, today is the day you start a new relationship with “busy”. Today, by making time, you start to take control back. Control of your life, and your time. The kind of control that will eventually make you feel more focused, more confident, more in charge, and ultimately… happier.

You need time to change your body. One more reason to make time: getting healthier, fitter, and in better shape is a slow process. You’ve got to put in the work, be patient, and persistent. But remember: If you want to change your body, being consistent is more important than anything else. So get in the habit of making that time, consistently, starting today.

Slow Down: (week 1-2)
It’s so simple, you won’t believe it, but it works. At every meal today, eat more slowly than you normally do. Today, and for the next two weeks, focus on doing this habit. Keep doing your first habit (making time). In the PN Coaching system, habits are cumulative–they build on each other, one by one. So a new habit doesn’t mean ditch the old one. A new habit means you simply add one more tool to your tool belt. In other words, keep doing your first habit: making time.

How to eat slowly: At each meal today, take a few extra minutes to simply pause (Here’s where your “make time” habit comes in handy.). Put your utensils down between each bite. Take a breath. When you take a bite, notice, and enjoy the taste and texture of the food.
Then put down those utensils again, and take another breath, or a sip of water. Relax, wait a few more moments before picking up your utensils again and repeat. That’s it. Quick tip: Try a timer.

If you’d like to track your progress with this habit, try simply timing yourself today.
Check your watch before you start eating. Or start a timer. When you’re done eating, see how long you took. Now you have a baseline for improvement! If you add only one minute per day, by the end of two weeks you’ll have added nearly 15 minutes more. Smooth ‘n’ easy.

Help yourself succeed. Eating slowly is one of the most important habits of the PN system. But in a rushing-around and busy society, it’s hard to remember at first. Changing a habit will take a little extra effort in the beginning, and that’s OK. That’s why we recommend at least two weeks on this habit. Here’s how to stay on track:
1. Make a note of your goal to eat slowly on a Post-it note, your computer, or your phone.
2. Put it somewhere that you’ll see it often, especially before you eat.
3. If you’ve used your computer or phone, set a reminder to go off before your regular meal times.
4. During your meal, try using a timer to check how fast you’re eating.
5. You can also use an app. Here is one we like: EatSlowly (for iphone)
6. Having a bit more information about what you’re actually doing can help you track your improvement with this habit over the next couple of weeks.
7. Even if you add only one minute per meal, that counts as progress!

How To Start Working Out

*How to Start Working Out, is a great article by Anahad O’Connor.  Most media articles on developing the fitness habit are fairly flawed, but Mr. O’Connor has done well.  I am encouraged because he discusses two of the more important aspects of fitness success: process goals and strength training.

Process Goals

Developing and maintaining the fitness habit is a motivational mind game.  Having a goal provides the emotional reinforcement necessary to be successful.  Most fitness clients set outcome goals—they want to lose twenty pounds, get stronger, or run a 5 kilometer race in record time.  Outcome goals are achieved through proper nutrition and consistent training.  Outcome goals are achieved through the development of a better life process.  I try to steer clients toward process goals—eat more protein, sleep better, daily mobility sessions, etc…  Process goals are the building blocks of fitness success and focus on your life outside of the gym.  Setting and achieving process goals creates the environment for achieving nearly everyone’s outcome goals.  Stronger, leaner, pain free, and faster will all follow when you have better life processes working in your favor.

Every expert on habit development recommends a paper and pen.  Writing it down is part of the commitment to fitness.  Record your process goals in an exercise log book or a nutrition diary.  Process goals that have worked well for fitness clients are listed below.

-Perform a daily five minute foam roll / mobility session for the next forty days.

-Weigh every serving of food you consume for the next two weeks.

-Take a thirty-minute walk for forty consecutive days.

-Get an extra hour of sleep every night for the next two months.

-Drop all sweetened drinks (juice, soda, sports drinks) for three months.

-Learn how to prepare a new healthy meal every week for six months.

Older, deconditioned, and metabolically challenged fitness clients will develop the fitness habit more readily with a dedication to process goals.  Build on the habits created by achieving ever more challenging process goals and you will reach all of your outcome goals.

Strength Training

When you get stronger, the magic happens.  It is really that simple.  If you want to be leaner—get stronger.  If you want to chase away the pain—get stronger.  If you want to improve your performance—get stronger.  If you want to prevent injuries—get stronger.  If you want to be active and vital into old age—get stronger.  The problem is that many barriers exist to the strength solution.

For best results, we need to start early.  An adequate strength level keeps you functioning well for a lifetime.  If in your early years, you were fairly sedentary, you need to get busy and strength train.  As we age, we lose a portion of our lean tissue, and if you have less muscle and bone “in the bank” you will reach your fifties and sixties in a weak and frail body.  Age related sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass) is one of the primary drivers of metabolic problems such as diabetese, hyperlipidemia, and chronic inflammation.  Today’s children are growing up with fewer episodes of bone and muscle building lifting and carrying activities.  I see teens nearly every day with lower back, knee, and hip pain all related to glaring strength deficits.

A lack of proper coaching and progressive programming are barriers to your strength training success.  Strength training is like medicine; given the proper prescription and dose, the results are consistently good.  Many of the people that have tried strength training and had bad results have taken the wrong medicine at the wrong dose.  They utilize advice from magazines, celebrity trainers, and the internet.  They confuse pharmaceutically assisted bodybuilding programs as appropriate strength training for a forty year old.  The best results are achieved when you work closely with a qualified coach who can monitor your results and teach you how to get stronger.

Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS< CSCS

*New York Times, Health Section, Anahad O’Connor, How to Start Working Out. View here.

Fitness Success Secrets

WSJ and My Fitness Success Suggestions

A member at the gym brought in this *article from the May 20, 2017 issue of the Wall Street Journal.  The article had some good tips on exercise compliance but fell short in other areas.  Take the time to read my suggestions.  These habits have been time tested, proven winners in multiple studies on real world people who were successful in making fitness a lifelong habit.

Get Some Help.

Numerous studies have shown that individuals that seek the assistance of a personal trainer or fitness coach are more successful in long term exercises compliance.  The guidance from a fitness expert improves motivation, goal attainment and is more time efficient.  Scientific understanding of fitness and the best training practices have changed dramatically in the last fifteen years, and your knowledge is probably behind the times.  A good coach will temper your “beginner’s enthusiasm” and make it less likely you will over train and/or injure yourself.  A professional helps you reach goals despite physical limitations or prior fitness challenges.

Personal Performance Evaluations.

In school, you have tests to see if you are gaining knowledge and ready to advance in a specific subject.  The same should be true of your training program.  The minimal requirement is a Functional Movement Screen.  This simple test can prevent 90% of the fitness related injuries we see in the physical therapy clinic.  Keep a record of relevant performance evaluations—a good trainer can help you with this.  Your initial successes with exercise will come in the form of better strength, mobility, and work capacity.  An ongoing record of “fitness victories” strongly reinforces the exercise habit.

Have Reasonable Goals.

The infomercials for fitness products promise big changes in extremely short periods of time.  Television shows document massive fat loss in a single month.   The healthiest changes in body composition occur slowly and steadily.  Make those body composition goals, but also make performance goals such as being able to perform a pullup, twenty lunges, or a full pain free squat.  I can think of no better goals than being able to eliminate blood pressure medication, normalize blood sugar levels, or decrease the use of anti-inflammatory medications.

Place Your Exercise Session At the Beginning Of the Day. 

The University of Michigan department of psychology found that individuals that are successful with long-term exercise compliance train in the morning before other aspects of life have a chance to interfere.  Consistency is King–an exercise plan will never work if you are not able to maintain a schedule.  The most consistent attendance happens when gym members train in the mornings.

Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

*Wall Street Journal, May 20, 2017, Rachel Bachman, Five Secrets for Steadier Workouts

Think About This

The Latest Science on the Prevention of Alzheimer’s

Over the last 30 years, more than two hundred experimental drugs have failed to produce any success in the fight against Alzheimer’s.  It does not appear we are going to have a pharmaceutical for the treatment of Alzheimer’s any time in the near future.  A recent *article in the April issue of Scientific American discusses a treatment option that does appear to work.  This is currently our only hope in the fight against this terrible disease.  The good news is the treatment that prevents cognitive decline helps with so many other problems.

The study’s researchers demonstrated that an interventional program of exercise, proper nutrition, and cognitive training produced significant improvements in brain function.  The **Finnish Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability (FINGER study) enrolled 1260 men and women between ages 60 and 77.  Over the course of two years, participants demonstrated improved cognitive test scores in processing speed (up 150%), executive function (up 83%), and complex memory (up 40%).

The exercise program in this study was not complex or time consuming.  The routines were developed by physical therapists and performed four or five days a week.  The exercise sessions involved strength training, balance skills, and aerobic activities.  As the participants became fitter, their training regimens were progressed–more challenging activities, more resistance, and/or more volume.  The time spent in training was four to five hours a week.

If your goal is to maintain or improve cognitive capacity and remain independent, then the prescription is a consistent routine of exercise.  Take the time to read the article, lace up your sneakers, and make a progressive program of fitness a lifelong habit.

* A Rare Success Against Alzheimer’s, Scientific American, April 2017

** The FINGER study, Alzheimer Prevention. Download the article here: http://r.search.yahoo.com/_ylt=A0LEViMTIfZYurkAQNsnnIlQ;_ylu=X3oDMTBybGY3bmpvBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMyBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzcg–/RV=2/RE=1492554131/RO=10/RU=http%3a%2f%2fwww.alzheimersprevention.org%2fdownloadables%2fFINGER-study-report-by-ARPF.pdf/RK=0/RS=fHWCrTAi9LEEDrH5jWfmRvAI7LU-

Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

Fitness training for those of us past 40 years of age is more complicated.  Physical performance and recovery capacity is dramatically different.  If you need proof, look around for the forty year olds in the NBA or NFL.  The good news is that with proper planning, consistent performance, and the wisdom that comes with age, we can stay fit and active for a lifetime.  I have compiled a collection of tips for the forty plus fitness client.  

Process Habits

set_goalsFitness is a motivational mind game.  Setting goals provides the ongoing positive reinforcement necessary to maintain the fitness habit.  Most fitness clients set outcome goals—they want to lose twenty pounds, become proficient in pull ups, or run a 5 kilometer race in record time.  Outcome goals revolve around training activities.   I try to steer clients toward process goals—eat more protein, sleep better, daily mobility sessions, etc…  Process goals are the building blocks of fitness success and focus on your life outside of the gym.  Setting and achieving process goals creates the environment for nearly everyone’s outcome goals.  Stronger, leaner, pain-free, and faster will all follow when you have process habits working in your favor.

Every expert on habit development recommends a paper and pen.  Writing it down is part of the commitment to fitness.  Record process habits in an exercise log book or a nutrition diary.  Process goals that have worked well for fitness clients are listed below:
-Perform a daily five minute foam roll/mobility session for the next forty days.
-Weigh every serving of food you consume for the next two weeks.
-Take a thirty minute walk for forty consecutive days.
-Get an extra hour of sleep every night for the next two months.
-Drop all sweetened drinks (soda, sports drinks) for three months.
-Learn how to prepare a new healthy meal every week for six months.
Older, deconditioned, and metabolically challenged fitness clients will develop the fitness habit more readily with a dedication to process goals.  Build on the habits created by achieving ever more challenging process goals and you will reach all of your outcome goals.

-Michael S. O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS

The New Year brings millions of people back to the gym, determined to make exercise a consistent part of their life.  Six to eight weeks later, they start arriving in the physical therapy clinic with sore lower backs, aching knees, post-surgical shoulders, and painful feet.  Injury is the number two reason people stop exercising.  Lack of results is number one.  In an effort to make everyone more successful at reaching his/her 2015 fitness goals, I have some suggestions:

Do less of what you are already doing

Most of us have occupations or hobbies that place far too much stress on one area of our bodies.  If your day consists of multiple hours of driving in a car, sitting at a desk, slumped in front of a computer, or planted in a recliner, do not go to the gym and sit.  If you use your hands all day to grip tools, pull on handles, or build widgets, do not perform 100 repetitions of resisted wrist and elbow exercises.  If you bend over and lift for a living, do not perform more forward bending during your fitness program.

Consider your posture

The question mark spine is as common as Under Armour in today’s fitness centers.  It is probably related to an overall lack of fitness and/or our newfound love of staring at social media.  It is a pain-producing problem that keeps physical therapists and surgeons busy.  If you resemble a human apostrophe, do not go to the gym and perform activities that pull you further into that posture.  Drop the medicine ball rotational crunches, stop doing the extremely slouched over barbell rows, and leave the “ab circuit” alone.  Perform activities that pull you up and out of the position.  Find a physical therapist or trainer for instruction on these activities.  Six weeks later, you will move, look and feel better.

It is always better to do too little than to do too much

Most fitness related injuries occur when training volume is ramped up too quickly.  Many of the internet and late night television fitness programs play a role in this all too common problem.  Rampage, Infinite Hypoxia, and the Warrior Death Workout have been wonderful for the physical therapy business, but they are less than ideal for the deconditioned person returning to fitness.  Remember, you are not a Navy Seal.  Have an honest conversation with a qualified trainer and let him/her help determine where you are on the strength and mobility spectrum before adding more to your program.

Have some respect for pain signals 

Physical Therapist: So, how long have you had that hip pain?

Patient:  Eight months.

Physical Therapist:  How did it start?

Patient:  Running on the treadmill.

Physical Therapist:  What do you currently do for exercise?

Patient:  I run on a treadmill.

In my work as a physical therapist, I have a version of this conversation once a week.  It has been my experience that the fitness beginner is more prone to this problem.  Ignoring pain and training through symptoms is a fantastic method of taking a fairly manageable problem and turning it into an inflammatory nightmare.  Pain is not “weakness leaving your body,” it is the disc bulging in your lower back, the meniscus being shredded in your knee, and the abdominal hernia evolving in your groin.

Set reasonable and worthwhile goals

If you watch infomercials for fitness products, you are bombarded with incredible fat loss testimonials.  Please remember the best body composition changes occur slowly and steadily.  Make those body composition goals, but also set performance goals such as being able to execute a full and pain-free squat, hike with your grandchildren, or do ten perfect push ups.  Consistent exercise can produce life changing improvements in health.  I can think of no better goal than being able to reduce blood pressure medication, normalize blood sugar levels, or decrease the use of anti-inflammatory medications.

Have someone help you

You know what they say about the lawyer who represents himself or the doctor who treats himself.  Losing fat, gaining muscle, and moving better are some of the hardest things to do.  Lots of people want to become more fit, but few people succeed.  If you have been away from exercise for some time consider hiring a qualified trainer to evaluate your present physical capacity and develop a training program.  A trainer will help you manage present physical limitations and make plans to conquer prior fitness challenges.  The people who enlist in some help do much better in developing and maintaining the fitness habit.

-Michael O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS

What Women Need

Needs Are Different Than Wants

Rosei The RiveterI get to discuss fitness goals with women nearly every day.  They want to lose weight, get rid of musculoskeletal pain problems, have more energy, and “get arms like that girl”.  Many of them have been doing their favorite exercise activity for years and have been unsuccessful at achieving any of their stated fitness goals.  What they tell me they want to do is yoga, elliptical training, and Pilates.   What they need to do is start on a program of strength training.  

Ramping Up Your Metabolism
We all know that a body with more muscle burns more calories all day long.  You can get away with eating more food and not develop greater fat deposits.  Much more significantly, greater muscle mass positively influences fat metabolism, insulin levels, glucose processing, hormone profiles, and disease resilience.  These changes influence the “more energy” feeling you develop with strength training.  

Training To Abolish Pain
Nearly every patient that comes to physical therapy with a chronic pain problem has a glaring strength deficit that is perpetuating the pain.  They have gluteals, scapula retractors, or cervical stabilizers that are not functioning at a level that permit them to perform normal activities of daily living and remain free of pain.  What makes these patients better is a program of targeted strength training.  If you have chronic hip, knee, lower back, or neck pain, your best method of permanently resolving the problem is strength training.  

Bone Health
All of the current research says you need bone jarring, compressive, and aggressive loading of your skeleton to enhance or prevent further loss of bone density.  Over the last year, two government panels of experts have told us that taking more vitamin D and calcium does not appear to make any difference in bone density.  Better bone biology requires that the exercise stimulus be strong and consistent.  Low skeletal stress activities such as yoga, Pilates, and elliptical training do not create the forces needed to have a positive effect on bone density.  Read Bending the Aging Curve by Dr. Joseph Signorile.

Staying Independent
I am sorry Ladies, but muscle mass, strength, and power production all leave you at a far faster rate than your male counterparts.  It is not fair, but it is the truth.  As you age, training to restore these physical capacities becomes much more important if you wish to remain independent for a lifetime.  Ask any physical therapist who works with geriatric clients and they will tell you that weakness is the driver of debility.  The good news is that a properly designed program of strength training can work wonders.  

Motivational Goal Setting
Strength training provides motivation by having clear goals.  “I want to tone up” is not a clear goal.  Any psychology major will tell you that reaching defined goals reinforces positive behavior.  You improve from three to eight solid push ups, carry ten more pounds for fifty yards, press twenty pound dumbbells instead of tens, and it motivates you to stay with the program.  Numerous psychological studies have found that a lack of goal achievement is the number one reason people fail to succeed in staying consistent with an exercise program.  The girl with the arms you like has strength goals.  

Michael S. O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS

Categories