I JUST CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!

by Stacy Yoshioka


Someone close to me had an emotional, stress driven meltdown recently and I was there for the whole ordeal.  Everything came to a head, the world seemed to be smothering her and she was drowning in her emotions, her body image, her family life, her social life, EVERYTHING!  We were scheduled to work out together and it was obvious that the most important thing necessary in this situation was a shoulder, and ear and a new point of view.  Working out can be a great reliever of stress but sometimes you just have to know when enough is enough.  Needless to say, we did NOT work out but had a cathartic conversation and a nice half hour stretching session.  On my way home from her house I began to think about the affects of stress on the body and working out.  When will a good workout help you get through it and when do you just need to tune out all the stimuli and put on a good movie, soak in the tub or read a good book?  When I got home I couldn’t sleep.  I found myself feeling for her and her situation and I was starting to stress about the fact that I couldn’t solve her problems.  I ended up taking on a kitchen project at 10pm and by 2am I had turned 5lbs of peaches in to preserves and was finally able to sleep.

Stress is a killer.  It makes you feel awful.  It makes you lose sleep.  It makes you sleep too much.  It makes you binge eat.  It makes you lose your appetite.  It makes you lash out at people who are trying to help you.  It makes you needy and dependent.  It wires you.  It exhausts you.  It makes you want to re-engage bad habits to drown it out.  It makes you gain weight unnecessarily.  It makes you lose weight unhealthily.  The worst part about it?  EVERYONE reacts differently to it.

As a fitness professional I work with people on a daily basis in a one-on-one setting and part of my job is looking at the kind of day they are having and modifying workouts, cues, stimuli and expectations based on their state of mind at the time I see them.  There is a fine line between babying someone or enabling them and being supportive of a bad day and helping them work through it.  On one hand I want to listen to them and empathize with them to be sure they know I am aware that something is going on.  I don’t need to know every last detail of the root of their stress (although most people tell me everything anyway) but I do need to know that something is affecting them and it may affect their workout.  I need to take in to account the amount of sleep they have been able to get, or not get.  I need to be sure they are still eating so they have energy to use in their workout.  I may even want to see if they speak to someone on a regular basis to help with their stress especially if they are going though something overwhelming and life altering.  Once I have these answers I am much better equipped to decide if a good intense workout is just what they need to focus and hit the reset button on themselves or if it’s time to slow down and, God forbid, take a day off.

My general rule of thumb is that if a client is about to or is in the midst of a meltdown, it’s time to stop.  It’s time to get them on a stretching table or just slow down and breathe so as not to panic.  Tears, screaming and pacing can escalate in to heightened blood pressure and bursts of energy that can lead to injuries which is the last thing a person under a lot of stress needs.  Catharsis is inevitable in this situation and letting all of that angry energy out is good but they need to slow down and allow themselves to let go and focus on things in a way that is more productive to finding a solution.  By breathing and stretching I have found that people are better able to focus on the components they can control and they can prioritize their actions to come to better solutions.  If a meltdown is not on the horizon this is the time to turn what, in meltdown mode, is a tearful and verbal catharsis in to a physical act that allows them to expend all that excess negative energy so all that is left is the high of endorphins that makes them feel better and puts their mind in a much better place to deal with what is bothering them.  


Old MacDonald Had the Right Idea...Blue Hill at Stone Barns.

by Stacy Yoshioka


Transient

I have a confession to make, I am a closet “foodie”.  For those of you who don’t know, a “foodie” would be described as an individual who goes out to eat to discover different cuisine, different types of dining from fine to casual to street fare, someone who likes to cook and learn new methods and someone who just enjoys good food.  I love to eat, I love to cook and mix good food in the equation and I’m pretty damn happy.  How is this relevant to a personal trainer’s blog?  Allow me to share my train of thought...

My husband and I came to an agreement about 2 years ago when we started reading and learning what was going in to our food.  We agreed to try to “clean up our act” and try to eat food that was clean and free of pesticides, chemicals and hormones and we would try to buy produce locally thus putting our money back in to the farms in the NY area which grow our food in a way we want it to be grown.  It’s nice to know your farmer, kind of like knowing your doctor or banker.  You can trust the product.  Let me tell you though, it’s not been easy.  “Easy” food is usually the food we are trying to avoid and we have had to take the time to cook for ourselves and ask questions about what we are eating, really take a look at the portions we are consuming and now, two years later, I think we are finally in the swing of things.  Two years!  That’s almost as long as we have been married and a huge commitment to our bodies and our life style.

Food is something we all need and cannot live without.  As a personal trainer we are constantly asked what to eat and how much we can consume.  Truth be told, I am not a nutritionist and I do not give out nutritional advice but it does peak my interest so I am trying to learn more about food, consumption and how we use it as energy to be able to give that kind of advice.  In the meantime I have been educating myself on the way food gets to our tables to get a better understanding of what we are putting in our bodies.  This type of information is easily found on the internet; in various documentaries, both political in nature and filled with propaganda; in books; at your local farmer’s market and numerous other resources such as cooking classes, chefs at restaurants etc.  I have read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and I own his other two books In Defense of Food and Food Rules which I have yet to read.  I have watched Food Inc.Food Fight, and other documentaries centering around the industrialization of food and the energy it takes to get that food to our grocery stores and ultimately on our tables.  With all of this information one thing resonated to me that is the center of this blog post; we are living in a day and age where the process of getting the food to our tables and the process of growing it in such high quantities is doing two major thing that we need to avoid, we are using way too much energy to process and transport food, thus increasing our carbon footprint, and we are doctoring up so much of our food to make it bigger and better to the point where it’s not natural anymore!  Yuck!  The amount of chemicals that go in to some of the food we buy at the grocery store can’t be good for us, so why do we eat it?

My best friend works in the fine dining industry.  She has exposed me to a lot of amazing cuisine and some amazing experiences.  She and I were supposed to take a trip to Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Tarrytown back in 2005 or 2006 (I can’t remember) but something always came up for work and I never made it.  (Sorry Tobie!)  She has been and many people had told me it was an amazing experience but I hadn’t made the trek yet.  I didn’t realize it at the time but Blue Hill at Stone Barns prides itself as being a restaurant that uses only ingredients from the farm at Stone Barns and other neighboring farms.  The produce is alway fresh, seasonal and local as is the livestock.  Years later after making the huge change in our lifestyle to include more local produce my husband and I decided this would be our mecca for fine dining and booked a reservation for July 3, 2010 the day before going on vacation to visit my family in Hawaii.  Let me tell you, what a great way to start vacation!

Blue Hill is the resident restaurant at Stone Barns Farm where they have a agricultural center to teach visitors about the farm and it’s workings.  We decided to spend the day at the center touring the farm and absorbing as much as we could about the way food gets to the table in this clean and sustainable atmosphere.  We learned quite a bit while we were there.  We learned that the 80 acre farm used to be a dairy farm owned by Peggy Rockafeller which provided all of the dairy to the Rockafeller family and staff for both their upstate and NYC residences.  The dairy farm closed down and the land was donated to create the agricultural center where visitors could go and sign up for programs to see the workings of the farm.  They do all of their own composting and make their own charcoal for the grills they use.  They rotate their crops so they don’t deplete the soil of nutrients and have to use harsh chemical fertilizers to produce the best possible crops.  We saw the greenhouse where most of the salad greens are grown year round and got to taste 6 different types of garlic!  They have their own hives to produce their own honey.  They have recently started growing their own hops to brew their own beer.  They rotate the pastures that the sheep, chickens and turkeys graze on to be sure they are fed properly and naturally and not from chemical ridden corn feed that can be found on so many industrial farms that raise livestock.  They even use the pigs they raise to forage the land when they need something dug up.  Nothing goes to waste!  We started with the “Insider’s Tour” for a complete overview of the farm (vegetables and livestock) and the restaurant.  We even got to go in the kitchen!  After that, we signed up for a class that gave us the opportunity to harvest our own basil and garlic from the vegetable garden and make pesto (a great snack before our 5pm reservation).  We saw the produce brought to market right in the courtyard adjacent to the restaurant and the learning center and ended the day with dinner.

For those of you who have never had the Blue Hill experience this is something to do before you die!  First and foremost, the attentiveness of the staff was amazing from choreographing the pulling out of chairs to seat us to setting plates down in front of you so everyone eats at the same pace.  When ordering my pre-dinner cocktail I ordered a purple basil mojito that is usually on the summer menu.  It was mentioned to me by the staff in the pesto making class but had not yet hit the menu for the summer.  Our server overheard me talking about it to another server no sooner had she asked, the bar staff went outside, picked some fresh purple basil and made me the mojito I was so looking forward to.  Now that is something that I was not expecting!  On to the meal!  It is set up as different tasting menus based on what is in season at the time.  You have a choice of 5 or 8 courses, the option of a wine pairing with each course and an optional cheese course.  Katherine, our more than capable server, chatted with us and asked us a series of questions which spanned much further than our food likes, dislikes and dietary constraints to determine what the chef would be making for us tonight then asked us if the table was set on 5 or 8 courses.  We settled on 8 courses to have the full effect of the experience and I opted for the wine pairing to compliment each dish.  Before each course our server Katherine would bring over something from the large table in the middle of the room that was a showcase for all of the seasonal produce of the day to give us a little inside look at what we might be seeing on our plates for the evening.  5 pre-appetizers later our food started to arrive, 6 courses later dinner was over followed by 2 dessert courses.  Honestly, I cannot remember everything that we ate but I do know that I have never had such delicious food and the wines that the somolier Thomas picked out were so amazing I had to ask him to make a list of the 7 different wines I had tasted (one with each dinner course and one dessert wine for both desserts) so I could go in search of them for my own dinners.  (You see?  Closet “foodie”.)

The moral of my story?  This is supposed to relate to fitness right?  How do you like this for a “moral”?  Fitness is only complimented by what you use to fuel your body and in the interest of lowering your carbon footprint and consuming fuel that is chemical and pesticide free for a healthier you, I think that this “clean food movement” is something we all need to embrace.

Transient

I really think that Old MacDonald had the right idea.  Go out and support your local farmers and learn how to cook with what is in season.  Not sure what is in season?  Check out different websites for a list of seasonal vegetables and look for recipes!  You might surprise yourself!  Ask if your local farmer if their meats are grass fed and how they were raised.  Most farmers love sharing their methods to show you the value in what you are eating.  You can learn so much just from a friendly conversation at the farmer’s market.  Keep the distance the food travels from the farm to the table at a minimum and taste the difference!


...And I Ran!!!

by Stacy Yoshioka


I was never a big fan of running.  I hated getting sweaty and dealing with the humidity in Honolulu during PE when I was in school.  I hated how it made me tired, how it made me hot, how it bored me to tears running around that quarter mile track or on the hot pavement along the streets by my high school.  But something in the past year, starting around the spring and summer of 2009 has changed and now, all of a sudden, I run.

It’s been about a year and in the course of this big running explosion in my life I have run and completed the ING NYC Marathon in 2009 entering just 10 days before the race, I have run my very first trail race at Bear Mountain, I signed up for the Niagra Falls Marathon in 2010, I have completed the Staten Island Half in 2009, the NYC half in 2010, the Brooklyn Half in 2010 along with a slew of other races and, since I didn’t make the lottery for the ING NYC Marathon in 2010, I am well on my way to complete my 9 races and volunteer for one through the NY Road Runners Club to be guaranteed a slot for 2011.  I even went home last summer and ran the last couple of miles of the Honolulu Marathon course to see what it was like and loved every minute of it humidity and all!

While I don’t know what really sparked my own running I started reading the national best seller “Born to Run, a Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen” by Christopher McDougall to see his take of the running phenomenon.  To be honest, I couldn’t really see how a book about running could be very interesting but everyone was raving about it and it seems to have sparked a surge in running here in the US so I thought it best to see what the hype was all about.  As of now I’m about half way through it and I’m completely fascinated.  He starts off with a simple question, “how come my foot hurts?” and takes off in every direction running could take and some you wouldn’t even think of.  He looks at the tribe of Indians that run faster and longer than most ultrarunners, the science of running and superathletes here in the US.  For example, he looked at female ultrarunners who finish 50 mile and 100 mile races and discovered that women tend to close the gap sooner against male runners the longer the race!  He looks at the philosophy of running and the history of surges in running as it directly relates to the goings on in the world.  Did you know that there have been three major events in US history where running has skyrocketed?  They were during The Great Depression when more than 200 runners gave birth to the Great American Footrace running 40 miles a day across the country, the early ‘70s when we were recovering from the Vietnam War, the Cold War, race riots, Nixon’s impeachment and the murder of JFK and the year post 9/11 when trail running became the fastest growing outdoor sport in the nation.  He links running with a trigger in the human psyche that fulfills 2 major senses we need during a crisis, stress relief and sensual pleasure.  We come pre-wired for it, we have all of the equipment for it and it is what we did to relive stress and achieve sensual pleasure before we understood sex.

The more I read this book the more I start to see reasons that could have been my own personal trigger for running and the more I am fascinated with the idea that we are designed to run.  I’ve only begun the section of the book that delves in to the running and shoe and how it could be the reason we are more injured now as runners than we ever were when we were running in simple, non-technical sneakers.  It’s the idea he touches on in the beginning of the book and seems to be carrying through as far as I can tell now that I am in the middle of it.  Having spent many years in soft, thin leather soled ballet slippers and barefoot on stage I can’t really find a reason to argue.  The less shoe there is the stronger the foot needs to be right?

Let’s see what the book has to say...


What Time Is It?

by Stacy Yoshioka


Ok, time to come clean.  I haven’t blogged in over a month and, truth be told, I was waiting for a time that I could sit alone with my computer and ramble in to the night about whatever came to mind.

It’s not for lack of ideas that I have been silent for over a month.  After subbing for a trainer at my chiropractor’s office (www.wellbalancedchiropractic.com ) for their 8 Weeks to Wellness program I wanted to blog about communication and how important that is to my work, the drive it can give a person and the results a client can achieve with the proper communication.  I’ve been re-reading my Facts and Fallacies of Fitness book by Mel C. Siff to find common questions that you as a reader might want to have my humble opinion on and was looking to do an entire entry about the value of planning out your workouts (programming) rather than flying by the seat of your pants.  My usual blogging time is an evening that I don’t get caught up watching something on TV and I don’t have to get up particularly early for an early client.  Well guess what, I had a whole week off with no early morning clients and did I blog?  Nope!  I got caught up in everything else that I thought was “more important” and now here I am, home at 7:30 am after a 5:45 am training session, desperately wanting to take a nap before I have to continue my day.  Interestingly enough, it was my client early this morning made me realize something, what better time than now to get things done?

Transient

Just to give you some background, I wake up 3 days a week when it is still dark outside to go downtown to a client who has been the source of a great amount of inspiration for this blog post.  I see her 3 days a week at 5:45 am at the gym in the basement of her building.  Sometimes when she needs to, we will train as early as 5:15 am based on her schedule!  She is one of the hardest workers I have known and will do whatever she can to be sure her workouts are completed for the week to stay on track.  When asked how she has the motivation to get herself up that early she answers with simply, “I just want to get it done.  If I work out first thing in the morning I know it will get done and it will be over, plus I feel great after getting up and moving”.  I think she doesn’t give herself enough credit.  I think her answer is true but you also have to look at the amount of effort and dedication a person has to have to themselves to be as disciplined as she is.

I’m not saying that you all have to run out and change your schedules and start getting up at the earliest possible moment to get your workout in.  I’m saying that I believe that we need to look in the mirror and see what kind of value we put in ourselves.  After we successfully place value in ourselves we need to figure out a schedule and stick to it.  Part of that schedule is determining what time of day works best for us to find that motivation to “get it done and get it over with”.

Let’s look at the three times of day a person might choose to work out, MORNING, AFTERNOON and EVENING and list some pros and cons.  I love my pros and cons lists!  It’s the most sure fire way for me to make a decision when there are many factors up in the air.  Remember, there is no right or wrong answer to what time is the best time to workout.  It’s all a matter of what works for you and these lists are merely my opinion.

Transient

When I looked at the MORNINGS I realized this is my favorite time to get things done.  I can set the tone of my day by starting off the morning with a run or a workout.  I will rarely cancel on myself since I will have most likely scheduled my sleep the day before to accommodate to the early morning workout, and after I workout in the morning I feel like a million bucks!  The post workout shower is a great way to wake up and feel refreshed and I start the day with a sense of accomplishment.  I know that when I am done I have dedicated time to myself and can really feel the value I found when I looked in the mirror.  The only real drawback to the morning workout is how early it is, the scheduling problems with the evening before and the sheer motivation to get up and get out of bed rather than hit snooze over and over again until I know I have to get up to go to work but all of those things seem to be negated by the sheer amount of energy, the positive note, the sense of accomplishment and the value I feel in myself when I start my day.

AFTERNOONS came with a pretty even list of pros and cons for me.  Sometimes the afternoon workout is great to break up the monotony of the day and can give you a real energy boost in smack in the middle of the day when you might need a pick-me-up.  You get the sense of creating “me time” in the middle of what can be a very stressful day and you allow yourself the opportunity to remember that value you place in yourself when you first looked in the mirror and sometimes your energy will be higher based on the assumption that you have gotten enough sleep the night before since you didn’t have to wake up earlier than normal to work out.  On the cons side I find it very easy to cancel on myself when I don’t think I have enough time between my daily tasks to complete the work.  Sometimes I find myself short changing the workout time because something in the morning ran late or I wasn’t motivated enough to get started on time and now have to finish early so as to not miss my next task of the day.  I find it easy to think that I will make up the time missed in the evening or the next day which usually doesn’t happen.

EVENINGS are the worst for me but can be the best for some based on the pros and cons I found.  Let’s look at the pros.  If you work out in the evening you can push yourself to your outside limits knowing that when you are finished you are done for the day and don’t need to exert any more energy than the energy it takes for you to chill out, eat dinner and get to bed.  As always, you have a sense of accomplishment when you work out and working out in the evening is no different.  You walk away from the workout knowing that you put value in yourself and ended you day with dedicated “me time” that reinforces that value.  The biggest con I found is the ability to “put it off until tomorrow” if you are too tired and “tomorrow” never arriving.  If I do get up the motivation to work out in the evening I feel that my energy level is never as high as it could be since the day is almost over and I never feel that I get the best possible workout.  Sometimes I have a hard time winding down after a workout because of the increased energy which ends up cutting in to my sleep time and sometimes my schedule just doesn’t allow me to work out in the evening.  These are all excuses I know, but they are all the things that I combat when I don’t get my workout in earlier in the day.

So here’s the answer to my long drawn out question, find the time that works best for you.  Hold yourself accountable to reinforcing the value you have in yourself.  Take a look in the mirror and claim your “me time”.  Tell yourself that you are dedicated to your self...

...and balance your value with your time.


Slow Down, You Move Too Fast...

by Stacy Yoshioka


Transient

6:15 pm Tuesday, January 19, 2010.  Long day gone by, early AM session, four hour rehearsal, even my dogs got an hour long workout in the dog run.  Sometimes those of us who have dedicated ourselves to motivating others and changing lives need a break from the role of the motivator and become the client.  My solution?  Give my little sister a call and step outside of my comfort zone and have her tell me what to do all in the name of centering, focus, stretch, relaxation and changing perspective; AKA Yoga!

My sister, Candace Yoshioka, owner of YoshiYoga our “sister company” (pardon the pun) came over and we spent the hour bending, stretching and inverting to look a the world a different way.  After setting up the dogs in the bedroom to keep them from wanting to show me up with their perfect downward facing dog poses, we dimmed the lights, lit some candles, set some focus points, cleared a portion of the wall to use for inversions and set out on a 60 minute journey of balance, stretch and changing perspective.

I am no stranger to yoga and have been in numerous classes but never one on one.  Similarly to one on one training, the personal attention I received in my living room were far more helpful than any corrections I have heard in class.  Many of you read this blog because you are used to one on one training.  You are used to high intensity, fast moving, sweat producing exercise to go along with the rat race we all run over and over again.  This experience proved to be the perfect combination of strength and stretch, work and fun, relaxation and power.  The perfect way to wind down after a long day.

Find the balance of your rat race and your down time.  Take a moment to step out of your comfort zone and look at the world from a new perspective.  Nothing compares to change!

...and Feelin’ Groovy!