A Proactive vs Reactive Lifestyle 

A Proactive vs Reactive Lifestyle 

What does it mean to be proactive versus reactive when it comes to health? 

When I think of being proactive, I think of taking necessary steps to either elicit or prevent a specific outcome. When I think of being reactive, I think of reacting to problems as they come in. These definitions remain consistent with regards to your overall health.  

What do both of those things look like?   

Proactive individuals will do things like daily stretching, managing water and food intake, exercise, regular doctor visits, etc. Reactive individuals typically don’t take these steps until their health starts to fail, or they get injured. Being proactive doesn’t mean your health won’t or can’t take a turn, it just greatly reduces the chances of that happening. Furthermore, a perfect picture for proactive health practices is totally subjective, as every body and every lifestyle are different. What’s not subjective are the underlying mechanisms behind the proactivity. You are taking steps, getting prepared, and doing what you need to do to be healthy.  

Reactive individuals are typically the opposite. Reactive individuals are often stuck in a loop of “go, go, go”, until they can’t go anymore because something has come undone. The best way to break that cycle is to add new habits that let you stay busy and active without getting derailed. If you have a tight schedule, then start to schedule your workouts like you schedule your meetings. If you’re too busy to shop for healthy food which forces you to eat out too much, sign up for a meal service. Don’t know how to stretch or what to do when you’re feeling stiff? Start by just standing up and moving more, and add some simple dynamic stretches to do every day for 5 minutes: that’s all it takes. 

We would be remiss to not reinforce that proactive stretching is key 

Proactive stretching is like building a solid foundation for a house. When the storm comes rolling in, you may not escape completely unscathed, but your foundation will prevent the likelihood of the entire structure breaking down. This is the same when you make stretching part of your weekly routine. Regular stretching will keep your body mobile and prepared for your long workdays at your desk or on your feet, and your weekend warrior activities.  

What does a proactive routine look like?  

  • When you get out of bed in the morning, stretch for 5 minutes. Get the oxygen and blood flowing! 
  • Eat a healthy breakfast, drink a probiotic or prebiotic supplement for digestion.  
  • Go about your day, making sure you stand up and move around for at least a few minutes every hour to let your tissues breathe and get your cells moving.  
  • Get some exercise. 12-30 minutes is a good amount, especially if you’re just starting out. 
  • Make sure to fuel up when you’re done, whether that’s food or a shake (food is always better).  
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Avoid waiting until you feel thirsty to grab your water bottle.  
  • Add a weekly assisted stretch to your schedule to stay on top of imbalances that may be creeping up on you. 
  • Get a quality night of sleep (8 hours). Avoid staring at a screen one hour before you go to bed.  
  • Rinse and repeat.  

Small steps, consistent effort, and grace with yourself are excellent metrics for proactive health practices. 

Written by Conner Fritchley, LYMBR Academy Instructor.

Resolution Abandonment – Don’t Let It Happen To You 

Resolution Abandonment – Don’t Let It Happen To You 

As another year comes to a close, we tend to reflect on the year behind us and resolve to make changes in the year ahead. Many of you will be starting your new year heading to a nutritionist, the newest fitness studio in town, or hiring a personal trainer. While eating a healthier diet and getting more exercise are great ways to accomplish your fitness and wellness goals, have you devised a plan to keep yourself on track? Right now, the idea is fresh in your head, but after weeks of diligently eating healthy foods and unending soreness from your new fitness routine, it’s no surprise that nearly 66% of us will have fully abandoned our goals by January 19th. The health and wellness journey is a marathon, not a sprint, and if you’re not prioritizing your recovery and relaxation then you’re putting yourself at a stark disadvantage.  

 Why does resolution abandonment happen? 

Most resolutions focus on doing things you don’t enjoy doing or don’t make time to do. Eating healthy is hard, and it takes time to build a recipe book of tasty, healthy recipes. That means there is an interim time where you are eating things that are not satisfying and those cravings still exist for less healthy options. Taking on a new exercise routine can be difficult and is extremely nuanced. It takes time and dedication to establish a routine. For these reasons, many people throw in the towel early without ever getting to see the results they are after. Finally, and ultimately the most important factor in abandonment is an early injury. Many clients we see coming through our doors experience a training injury within 1-2 weeks after starting a new program. At this point your muscles, tendons, and tissues are de-conditioned and they’re screaming for you to relax and recover. I’ve mentioned this in previous blogs, but it’s important to reiterate: Relaxation is a state of healing for the body. It’s important to keep your body and mind in a positive state to keep your health and enthusiasm going well into the new year. 

So how do you make sure this doesn’t happen? 

The answer is simple; Make your resolution a trifecta of nutrition, exercise AND recovery. Pick a few recovery options that you find enjoyable. This can come in many forms such as a trip to a salt cave, massage, relaxing yoga and of course, stretching. Our studios are a popular choice for our clients since It’s not strenuous and the benefits are felt immediately. We have a lot of partners in the recovery space so if you’re looking for ideas, please ask a member of our team! 

So why LYMBR? 

The main reason why you should choose LYMBR as one of your resolution maintenance tools is this: It keeps you in the game for the long run. The longer you can go with your new routine, the faster you will progress and the quicker you will hit your goals. Sustainability and adherence are the two most important factors when starting any health and wellness journey. I assure you, whether your goal is to run an Ironman or you seek a healthier, fitter body, if you don’t give your muscles the care they need on your off-days, tightness and movement dysfunctions will most likely derail your goals. Hence the message of this article: Resolutions are hard enough without a sore low back, a pulled hamstring or a stiff shoulder. When it comes to recovery, be proactive, never reactive.  

Written by Conner Fritchley, LYMBR Master Trainer.

Is Your Body Ready?

Is Your Body Ready?

It’s that time of year when we set new fitness and wellness goals for the new year. We put a lot of emotion and energy in setting these goals and picture ourselves succeeding. When you are confident in how your body moves and feels, you’ll have the best chance at not only meeting your goals, but exceeding them.

Starting or increasing a fitness routine with an ill-prepared body means a greater likelihood of injury and a greater likelihood that the injury will derail you. You deserve the best change to be successful.

Here are a few ways adding stretch protocols into your daily life will allow your body to feel restored and at its best to make sure your goals stick for the long run.

Areas that often have more stress placed upon them when starting a new fitness routine include the low back, knees, and hips.  If your starting point is a mostly sedentary lifestyle, sitting and lack of movement for an extended period of time stiffens and shortens the muscles.  When a new fitness regimen is initiated, the involved areas will be going through greater ranges of motion they may not be used to, leaving them more prone to injury.

Our active method of stretching allows the muscles to be properly warmed up and lengthened before starting an activity.  Blood flow and oxygen to the muscles is increased, providing protection to the joints.  Muscle imbalances are lessened when stretching as well, allowing the body to have better mobility and alignment to properly grasp the technique of the activity.  Active stretching combined with a light warm-up prior to exercise will minimize the risk of getting injured when starting a new routine.

Stretching helps to correct any muscle imbalances in your posture. Soon after starting a new fitness routine, you may notice a shift in your posture.  You may find your posture improving, as you are strengthening muscle groups to help you stand taller and straighter.  On the contrary, new fitness routines may also negatively impact posture. If you are beginning a new routine with less than ideal posture, chances are you will have improper form in your workouts and increase the likelihood of pain and soreness.  For example, if you start with shoulders that are rounded and elevated, your range of motion and body positioning will be unnatural and compromised. Stretching the upper body will help lower the shoulders and lengthen the spine reducing compensations and allowing you to perform your activity properly.  Stretching aims to restore the muscles to their optimal length and position.

Similar to posture, new fitness routines will affect the body’s alignment.  A properly aligned body will have the head, shoulders, spine, hips, knees and ankles all in line. Keeping all of these joints linear will place less stress on the spine to help better your posture.

If you are a regularly active person, you will find that incorporating stretching routines into your daily life will enhance your workouts. The increase in range of motion associated with stretching will allow you to perform your best.  For example, stretching the hip flexors and quads will allow more range of motion to help squat deeper and put more power into spinning.  Stretching the upper body, like the pecs and shoulders, will allow greater mobility to be put into those boxing workouts.  The lengthening and lightness felt throughout the body from implementing these stretch routines will aim to increase performance.

Any soreness post-workout is not problematic: it is your body letting you know it is adapting to the new stresses placed upon it. Excess soreness, however, can leave you feeling tight, fatigued, and unmotivated to keep up with your routine.

Stretching after a workout, whether it be directly after or the following day, will alleviate sore muscles.  Even a few minutes of stretching will increase blood flow, oxygen, and nutrients to those tender areas.  This will not only reduce soreness after a workout; it will properly prepare you for your next one.

Whether you are a fitness novice or looking for new ways to maximize those workout gains, prepare your body now. Get a head start now and make 2023 the year you crush your fitness goals.  Incorporating stretching into your daily life before you begin your new fitness routine will leave your body feeling ready to take on any workout you set your mind to. Keeping stretching in your routine will keep you on track way past the time most people drop their new year routine. Here’s to a happy, healthy, and restored body in the new year.

15 Reasons Sleep Deprivation Kills Longevity, And 5 Ways To Fix It

15 Reasons Sleep Deprivation Kills Longevity, And 5 Ways To Fix It

If you don’t live under a rock, you’ve probably been hearing the word “longevity” work itself into conversations around health more and more. Longevity can come in many forms and has a different definition for everyone. The way that we view longevity at LYMBR is not just how long you are able to do something; rather how long you are able to do that thing well and without pain. If you have been playing golf for 45 years and have had hip pain for 40 of those years, that is not longevity, that is playing injured. Those are very different things. Now, it’s important to note that we’re at a period in history where our population has, quite literally, never been this injured, sleep impaired, and nutrient deficient. So, is this whole longevity thing a ‘pie in the sky’ type of goal, or is it actually achievable? That’s probably too subjective of a question to answer without applying it to a specific person. Furthermore, there’s a lot we still don’t know about longevity, and more specifically newer longevity practices. In a microcosm it seems to be highly effective, but we have yet to see how many of these fads perform at a macro level and how they’ll do over the next couple of decades. 

All I’m trying to say is there is quite a bit of riff raff when it comes to the actual meaning of longevity and how to promote it in your day-to-day life. Having said that, there are really three key pieces of health that, if you focus on, will bring the idea of longevity into reality. In this series we’re going to cover those three topics in depth, beginning with the most important: SLEEP. 

Sleep is one of the most important facets of our health and long-term wellness. It is also one that is widely overlooked and under-appreciated. I often talk to clients about taking more accountability for their sleep the same way they would take accountability for their food and their exercise. People tend to get the exercise part fairly quickly, the food takes a bit longer, but sleep always seems to be put on the back burner. This is a very backwards approach. If anything (and this is coming from a seasoned strength and conditioning coach) your exercise should probably come last out of these three. Without optimal sleep, emphasis on the word optimal, your food and exercise will not make up for the deficits and health affects you face from a lack of sleep. The age-old adage of “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is an antiquated, and irresponsible approach to rest and recovery. Make no mistake, sleep is the most important thing we can do for the continued health of our body and mind. Here are some of the hard truths about sleep, what happens to you if you’re in a sleeping deficit, and some of the things we can do to improve our sleep. 

  1. People who sleep shorter, live shorter. There is a direct correlation to the amount you sleep to the number of years you live. Optimal sleep, for optimal time, will directly increase your lifespan. 

  2. You can never “sleep back” the hours you have lost. However, napping can help bolster your sleep score. Most underdeveloped societies untouched by electricity sleep this way. A full night of sleep, followed by a 30–60-minute nap the following day. In places such as Greece, where siestas still exist (periods of the day where people go home to rest and nap), men are four times more likely to reach the age of 90 than American males. However, taking naps due to poor sleep the night before is not a fix, but a rather ineffective Band-Aid. 

  3. REM sleep recalibrates the emotional centers of the brain and is mainly responsible for creativity or lack thereof. REM sleep, meaning rapid eye movement sleep, starts about 90 minutes after you fall asleep. This is where most of your dreaming happens, and is extremely important for learning, memory, as well as many other things. 

  4. Deep sleep may be a sign of brain maturation. This is due, largely, to the role that deep sleep plays in cognitive and psychosocial function especially in a maturing brain.  Remember that deep sleep assists with things like learning, stress, memory, all of which needs to be managed effectively as they mature. 

  5. Any individual, no matter what age, will exhibit physical ailments, mental health instability, reduced alertness, and impaired memory if their sleep is chronically disrupted.

  6. Sleep has proven itself time and again as a memory aid: both before learning, to prepare your brain for initially making new memories, and after learning, to cement those memories and prevent forgetting.

  7. Anything less than eight hours of sleep a night, especially less than six hours a night, the following starts to happen: time to physical exhaustion drops by 10 – 30% significantly reducing aerobic output. Impairments are also observed in performance metrics such as limb extension force (think straightening your knee or extending your elbow), vertical jump height, as well as decreases in peak and sustained muscle strength. Add to this, a decrease in cardiovascular, metabolic, and respiratory capabilities that impede a tired body. This includes faster rates of lactic acid buildup, reductions in oxygen in the blood, and therefore an increase in carbon dioxide in the blood. This can lead to soreness, dysfunctional movement, and therefore increasing the risk and likelihood of injury. Even the ability of the body to cool itself during physical exertion through sweating – a critical part of peak performance – is impaired by a lack of sleep. 

  8. Post-performance sleep accelerates physical recovery from common inflammation, stimulates muscle repair, and helps restock cellular energy in the form of glucose and glycogen.
  1. Sleep loss inflicts devastating effects on the psychology and physiology of the human body. Sleep loss is directly linked to the following conditions: Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, suicide, stroke, chronic pain, cancer, diabetes, heart attacks, infertility, weight gain, obesity, and immune deficiency. 

  2. Power naps may increase basic concentration under conditions of sleep deprivation, as well as caffeine depending on the dose. Neither naps nor caffeine can salvage more complex functions of the brain, including learning, memory, emotional stability, complex reasoning, or decision-making.

  3. Many emotional and psychiatric problems can occur under sleep deprivation. Conversely, treating some of these issues with sleep has shown success.

  4. The leading causes of disease and death in developed nations—diseases that are crippling health-care systems, such as heart disease, obesity, dementia, diabetes, and cancer—all have recognized causal links to a lack of sleep.

  5. Up here in the north, the switch to daylight savings in March means we are losing an hour of sleep. If you look at the millions of daily hospital records, you will find that this seemingly trivial amount of sleep loss comes with a harrowing increase in heart attacks the following day. However, when the clocks move forward again, we see a drastic reduction in heart attacks as well as the number of traffic accidents. This speaks to the large impact that small variabilities in sleep can have. 

  6. Decreased sleep, which many first-world adults commonly report, will increase hunger and appetite. It will also compromise impulse control, therefore increasing food consumption, decreasing feelings of fullness, and prevent effective weight loss when dieting. 

  7. Do not take sleeping pills. These do not induce natural sleep. No one would argue you are not sleeping on weapons-grade Ambien, but to say that sleep is natural is just as much of a misnomer. 

“…Wait, but all you did was point out all the bad stuff about not sleeping well. You didn’t give me any tools to help me out.” Patience young grasshopper, I’m getting there. 

  1. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even if it sucks. It is perhaps the single most effective way of helping improve your sleep, even though it involves the use of an alarm clock. This natural method shows a significant trend toward increasingly better sleep with increasing levels of physical activity, and a strong influence of sleep on daytime physical activity. Participants also feel more alert and energetic because of the sleep improvement, and signs of depression proportionally decrease.

  2. Going to bed only when sleepy and avoid sleeping on the couch early/mid-evenings. Never lie awake in bed for a significant time period; rather, get out of bed and do something quiet and relaxing until the urge to sleep returns. Avoid daytime napping if you are having difficulty sleeping at night. Reduce anxiety-provoking thoughts and worries by learning to mentally decelerate before bed.

  3. There are some more obvious methods for improving sleep such as reducing caffeine and alcohol intake, removing phones, laptops, and TV’s from the bedroom, and having a cool bedroom.

  4. Instead of sleeping pills or sleeping technology, try more natural methods. Currently, the most effective of these methods is called cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, or CBT-I. It is rapidly being embraced by the medical community as the first-line treatment. You can learn more about CBT-I here.   

  5. Working with a therapist for several weeks, patients are provided with a personalized set of techniques intended to break bad sleep habits and address anxieties that have been inhibiting sleep. 

Longevity implies that it’s lasting. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. If you’re hoping to go the distance, then your habits must work to sustain you, which means you must work to sustain your habits. I hope this helps demystify some of the ideas and preconceptions surrounding our sleep. It is the single most important step towards longevity and the practice of long-term health and wellness. If you can get your sleep right, you are stacking the deck in your favor. A principle we have come to know very well at LYMBR. Remember, self-preservation is not a right, nor a privilege, it is an art form. Sleep, my dear friend, is the canvas and the brush.

Most, if not all, of the information I found for this article can be found in Matthew Walker’s book “Why We Sleep”. If you are looking to learn more about how sleep can promote longevity and improve your quality of life, I highly recommend checking this book out. It’s extremely informative, engaging, and will give you years of your life back. 

Written by Conner Fritchley, LYMBR Master Trainer, Darien Stretch Therapist.

How Digestion & Posture Work Together 

How Digestion & Posture Work Together 

We’re getting into the holiday season which, for most of us, means some added stress, maybe some travel, and usually an uptick in food intake. It’s not easy coming out net zero on the scale after Thanksgiving, I know I’m certainly guilty of that. It’s the time of year to eat, drink, be merry, and share your time with loved ones. Dieting is usually back of mind with those kinds of events. However, there is one simple thing you can focus on to aid in your digestion as the food starts coming in.  

At this point in your life, whether you’re a star athlete or someone who spends most of their day at a desk, you’ve probably been beaten over the head with the phrase “Sit up straight!” This saying is not only irritating, but also wildly unhelpful. Our bodies get used to the positions we put them in. Over time “sitting up straight” does nothing but put us in unsustainable postures. Now, even though the cue of sitting up straight provides zero constructive changes, it does raise a valuable point about digestion and your internal organs. 

When we slouch forward, we tend to focus on how that impacts our backs and our spine. While this is important, we tend to forget that the spine and back have a direct relationship to organ function and position within your body. If I’m spending most of my day, week, month, year, or life in a slouched position, I’m not only doing a number on my spinal curve, I am also compressing and repositioning my organs which, not surprisingly, makes them less effective at doing their jobs. Imagine all the things you have do in a given day. Now imagine doing them rolled up into a little ball. Not exactly a comfortable thought right? That’s what happens to your organs when we slouch forward. Processes like adrenal function (physical and mental energy) and digestion (food and nutrient processing and elimination) are intimately affected when this happens. Now I know this blog has been an anatomical bummer up until this point, but fear not, there is a solution.  


Stretching, specifically progressive emphasis stretching (PES) that we do in our studios, is a great way to improve posture, realign important joints, and aid in digestion. PES focuses on active repetitions and helps guide the body into better positions. The dynamic nature of PES invigorates processes in the digestive organs through stretches like back rotation, hip flexors, and glutes which makes digestion and your day-to-day life that much easier. It’s almost like a massage for your insides which is about as interesting as it is a disturbing mental image, but an important point, nevertheless.  

Stretching is an awesome way to mitigate the pains of oversitting and the consequences that follow, either mental or physical. However, undertaking any sort of health and wellness program can be overwhelming at first, especially during the holidays. If you need some inspiration, if you need a little boost in your performance, even if you just need an hour to decompress, then we’re here to help. If you have any questions about getting started and taking control of your body, please feel free to reach out to any one of our LYMBR studios. Have a great Holiday Season! 

Written by Conner Fritchley, LYMBR Master Trainer, Darien Stretch Therapist.

5 Ways To Promote Sustainable Dieting 

5 Ways To Promote Sustainable Dieting 

Dieting, for most, is often the most challenging part of any health journey. Food is delicious, especially foods that aren’t great for you. I, myself, am a huge doughnut aficionado and will gladly die on that hill. For a lot of folks, dialing in on food is the last step towards longevity, and that step is often more of a leap over jagged rocks. Remember, the whole point of longevity is sustainability, and following plans that are going to get you the greatest result long-term.  

Dieting is not an ‘all or nothing’ approach. In fact, I would say that most successful diets are not like that at all. You don’t need to survive on skinless chicken breast, spinach, and egg whites. Trust me, I’ve done it, and it’s just as terrible as it sounds. Most successful diets work on the approach of portion control, and understanding which macronutrients make you the fullest. These diets usually work within the principle of adherence, which is allowing flexibility within the diet to avoid burnout and eventual departure from the diet itself. Furthermore, these plans avoid using nomenclature such as “good” or “bad” to describe foods, and use principles like energy balance (calories in, calories out) to tangibly target weight loss.  

In this article we’ll outline LYMBR’s five laws of sustainable dieting for longevity. This may not be the advice you get from a nutritionist or the shredded guy at your gym. Our belief in these principles are rooted in the philosophy of health and sustainable dieting practices, not “bro-science” or elimination diets.  

Rule number 1: The key to a successful diet is adherence. 

One of my long-time personal training clients hit a snag in his weight loss. He had gotten as far as exercise was going to take him on its own, and he needed to dial in on his eating. He asked me what the best diet was, and if cutting out booze would help him shed a few extra pounds. I get these questions a lot, and I always respond the same way. “The best diet is the one you’re going to stick to, and if cutting out booze makes you double fist pints of ice cream, then please for the love of god, keep drinking.” Dieting is a lot of trial and error and picking the lesser of two evils. This is, in a nutshell, the essence of adherence. It doesn’t mean you’re a regular at Carl’s Jr., but it also doesn’t mean you beat yourself up for breaking your diet in a moment of weakness. Adherence is also a lot of introspection. Make sure to ask yourself if you can stick to a diet before you start. If you love pasta and bread and the diet has you on 0 grams of carbs, then that’s probably going to blow up in your face. The best diet that I have found is a “no diet” diet. Eating less of the foods you already love is a great way to start reducing the overall calories you’re consuming. Calorie surplus is why you gain weight. Simply halving your portions, you are creating a deficit which will result in weight loss.  

Rule number 2: There is no such thing as a “good” food or a “bad” food.  

Is a piece of cake a bad food? No. Is spinach a good food? Also, no. It’s just food. It doesn’t donate to charity and build schools. It also doesn’t rob the elderly or vandalize churches. They are inanimate objects devoid of feeling. They are not good, nor bad, they just are what they are. Despite this glaringly obvious idea, many apps, companies, and people assign negative or positive attributes to different foods. I’m sure you’ve seen zealots on either side of the aisle spouting “carbs are bad” or “trans fats are bad” which is as untrue as it is unhelpful. There are some really great studies that show this line of thinking is actually very harmful to a person’s mental health, and can result in the formation of an eating disorder. I would encourage you not to look at food as bad or good, but rather to understand the calorie breakdown of those foods. Once you understand the calorie breakdown it’s a matter of deciding whether eating that food is going to push you over your calorie threshold, or if that even matters to you. This is a more objective and cerebral approach to eating, rather than subjective and emotional.  

Rule number 3: Start by eating less.  

As we’ve covered throughout this article, calories make you gain weight, not carbs or fats but the overall accumulation of eating those carbs, fats, proteins, etc. I would always encourage people to eat more whole fruits and vegetables, but even by eating less volume of the foods you already love, you’re inching towards a calorie deficit. Remember, the whole idea of this article is to show you sustainable diet practices. If you jump into a weight loss journey eating a bunch of foods you hate then it probably won’t last very long. Dieting is hard enough; dieting with food you don’t even like is next to impossible. This may not address the nutritional deficiencies in your diet, but it does address the calories. Once you’ve lost some weight and you’re keeping it off eating things you enjoy, your confidence goes up, and you can start to add in extra things like exercise, fruits and veggies, and more protein. 

Rule number 4: Eat a boat load of protein 

The best way to diet is to eat foods that make you full. The less hungry you are, the less likely you’ll binge. The less likely you binge, the less likely you regain the weight. Protein has something called “the highest thermic effect of food” which means it helps raise your metabolic rate by 15-30% thereby helping you burn calories at a higher threshold. Protein is also typically the most “satiating”, meaning it makes you feel fuller, longer. Between these two reasons, hiking up your protein intake can be an invaluable strategy for weight loss, more specifically sustainable weight loss.  

Rule number 5: Understand the difference between low calorie, and nutritious.  

Do you remember that whole avocado phase? It seemed like every influencer and their grandmother was shouting from the rooftops about how good avocados were for you. Don’t get me wrong, avocados are great! Having said that, they’re extremely high in calories. Nutritious? Absolutely, unequivocally healthy. What if I’m trying to lose weight? Not so much. An avocado is 200-300 calories, which may not seem like much, but after you mix it with olive oil, throw it onto a giant piece of sourdough with butter or ricotta, and an egg, that’s an 800-900 calorie breakfast. You can have 4 eggs and 4 pieces of bacon and that won’t even touch 500 calories. So it’s extremely important to understand the difference between low calorie and nutritious. If you’re trying to eat more nutritious foods, then eating things like bananas and avocados is a great way to go. However, if you’re trying to lose weight then you need to be focusing on low calorie. Low calorie foods aren’t always nutritious, but nutritious foods aren’t always low calorie. Understanding that distinction will help you avoid what I call “The avocado toast trap”.  

The last piece of advice that I would give you is to enjoy this process. Many people view dieting as restrictive and a chore. Reframe your mindset and perspective about what you’re doing. You’re not restricting yourself; you love yourself enough to create balance in your life. You’re not doing a chore; you’re taking accountability of your health so that you can be the best version of yourself for you and your loved ones. Finally, and I can’t stress this enough, pick something you’re going to stick to, and ignore the white noise around dieting. Unless you’re an elite level athlete, you don’t need a complicated, over-managed program. Eat less volume, eat more protein, and don’t keep the leash too tight. I have used this quote many times in many different articles, but it bears repeating, and I think it’s a wonderful quote to end on: “If it makes your training five percent better, but it makes you hate your life ten percent more, that’s a terrible trade off, and don’t do it.” 

Written by Conner Fritchley, LYMBR Master Trainer, Darien Stretch Therapist.

The Mindset Of Youth Sport Specialization

The Mindset Of Youth Sport Specialization

Several years ago, I wrote about the dangers of early sport specialization. The article outlined 3 key factors into why, as a fitness professional, I would discourage young kids from playing a single sport for 12 months out of the year. These three key factors were a higher rate of injury, a higher rate of psychological stress, as well as a high degree of burnout. As time has progressed, a number of articles have come out warning of these very same risks. Despite the warnings, sport specialization has seen an increase in recent years, and I see the effects of it on a weekly basis at the studio. 3 years ago, I had four kids below the age of 16 on my schedule for overuse injuries from early sport specialization. This year I have close to 15. My studio has close to 30. These kids are in chronic pain. Not a stiff elbow, not a sore knee, but chronic joint pain. They are experiencing joint pain that I have only ever seen in people above the age of 45. Their range of motion is severely lacking for their age, and they are complaining of symptoms that shouldn’t manifest until their early thirties. Even on a micro level, this is alarming. As you zoom out to the rest of the country, you can see this is not isolated to Fairfield County. It’s systemic. It’s an epidemic, and nobody, I mean nobody seems to be listening. If they are, they don’t seem to grasp the severity, and short sightedness of this style of play. Rather than writing another article outlining the same things I did 3 years ago, let’s instead talk about some of the factors that may contribute to this mindset, and some of the reasons why that mindset may be inaccurate, to put it lightly.  

I want to be great: 

One of the biggest reasons coaches, parents, and young athletes choose to specialize is the wanton for greatness. That dream lives in every young athlete, and it’s not my job to extinguish that flame. I think every kid should do their best to live to the fullest of their athletic potential. However, there is very little data to support early sport specialization relating to elite level performance later in life. There are outliers, figure skating and gymnastics being the only two I would excuse, however data for almost all other sports does not connect the dots between early specialization and later elite performance. In fact, most high-level collegiate athletes report having played multiple sports in their youth, often starting out with a different activity than the one they later specialized in.  It’s not uncommon to say that most Division I athletes did not specialize before the age of 12. Furthermore, the athletes that played more sports required less time to specialize. Most world class athletes don’t start training for their sport until later adolescence (the statistical average would be around age 15). Early athletic diversification has been shown to decrease the amount of time it takes to excel in a specific activity due to the transfer of pattern recognition from sport to sport. Athletic diversification in youth followed by specialization in later adolescence provides more enjoyment, fewer injuries, and longer participation, all of which are important for success in a chosen sport later in life. If that’s not enough, I would turn your attention to Norway. This is a country with 93% youth sport participation, where early specialization, quite literally, does not exist. The economic cost and barriers for entry are extremely low, travel teams don’t start until teenage years, and coaches do not separate the elite from the average until high school. With only 5.8 million people, Norway handily crushed our medal count with 39, compared to the United States with only 23. We would do well as coaches and parents to adopt a more Scandinavian approach to youth sports. 

The Professionalization of youth sports, and the 10,000 hour rule. 

There are many factors at play when it comes to the push of early specialization. One of which is most certainly money, however there are other variables such as the professionalization of youth sports, and the application of Malcolm Gladwells “10,000 hours makes a master” rule. If you’re unfamiliar with the book “Outliers” by Mr. Gladwell, then this may not make any sense to you. The book studied elite musicians and their rise to glory through ten thousand hours of practice, usually over the course of ten years. Since the release of this book many parents and coaches have latched onto this ideal and incorrectly applied it to youth sports. Obviously if you want to get good at something, you need to practice, and practice a lot. However, the exchange rate from music to athletics is not 1:1. Furthermore there is no literature to back up early specialization for elite status like it does for musicians. If that’s not enough, look at some of the most elite hockey players today. Blake Coleman, center for Calgary was an all-star soccer player in Texas. Anders Lee, left wing for the Islanders, was an all-star athlete in Minnesota. He won Gatorade player of the year for football while also lettering in baseball and hockey. Chris Kreider was another dominant soccer star in high school before lighting up the collegiate hockey circuit at BC. The mindset that 10,000 hours creates a master holds true for many things musically, where technical ability is of the utmost importance. However, this idea does not always hold true for sport, especially when you’re trying to pack 10,000 hours into the first 5 years of your participation.  The other variable at play here is the professionalization of youth sports. Whenever I have a new child athlete at the studio, one of the first things I have them do is tell me about their practice and game schedules for the week. It never ceases to amaze me that these weekly commitments often exceed the child’s age in hours practiced. This goes against the advice of many of the top sports medicine doctors, who recommend never exceeding the child’s age in hours practiced until high school. They also recommend at least 3-4 months of an off season. When you focus that much on one sport at that age, injury shoots through the roof, and burnout is inevitable. 

Parting advice: 

Remember, for almost all sports, specialization before puberty is not necessary to achieve elite level performance, in fact it will most likely detract from it. Most sports medicine doctors recommend exposing kids to as many sports as possible at a young age, and when it comes time to specialize, let them drive the decision-making process. A general rule of thumb is to never exceed the player’s age in hours of practice per week until high school and give them a 3-4 month off season. 

Written by Conner Fritchley, LYMBR Master Trainer, Darien Stretch Therapist.

Feeling Stressed At Work: Ways to Relieve Tension

Feeling Stressed At Work: Ways to Relieve Tension

Whether you feel overworked, overloaded, or overwhelmed by personal and professional concerns, stress is probably the root of the issue. Feeling stressed at work not only is unpleasant but can negatively affect productivity. When you start to feel stress creeping up, try these four activities to manage those emotions, and optimize your performance to best reach your professional goals. 


Having to sit all day at work can leave you feeling tense, stagnant, and gloomy. Instead, get up and get moving. It’s important to do some stretches from time to time to help unwind poor posture and fight against slumping at your desk. There are numerous ways poor posture can harm your health when we’re sitting in poor posture for years on end. Sub-optimal circulation, respiratory issues, and a heightened chance of injury to name a few. Why not encourage your co-workers to get active too? Try doing some group stretching with your co-workers to take a break and get in some healthy movement! This could be the start of getting your workplace conscious about wellness. Helping your workplace become more health conscious can lead to establishing regular corporate wellness sessions to help foster healthy activities at work and beyond. 

Rest Your Eyes

Staring at your computer screen all day may not make you feel that great. Too much screen time can bring on computer vision syndrome causing you to feel things like sore muscles and eyestrain. Before you know it, you are so dialed in that you have been looking at your computer for hours, stressing over getting everything done. Do yourself, your eyes, and your mind a favor by allowing them to rest. It is important to take in a different view from time to time. Get up and look off in the distance, or, if you’re able to, go outside. This can help relieve some tension and prevent your eyes from feeling tired and dry. In addition, trying some eye exercises or even using a blue light screen filter may help. 

Seek Support

If you are feeling anxious at work, it is important that you seek support. Speak with your supervisor and let them know that some assistance would be helpful, whether it be loosening up a deadline, providing you with extra hands on deck, or allowing you to take a personal day. Knowing how to talk to your boss about burn-out can be hard. However, it is better to let them know and advocate for yourself rather than have assumptions made based on your attitude or work performance. Don’t hesitate to talk to someone outside of work either. Managing work stress can be difficult, especially if it’s impacting your performance and more importantly your mental health. Seeking professional help and finding some anxiety treatments online could be highly beneficial. Addressing your concerns can help to alleviate some anxiety, shift your perspective, and create a better work-life balance.


Stress at work can come in many forms, whether it be being under pressure, at odds with a colleague, or feeling unsatisfied or unfulfilled. Stress can crop up throughout your workday. It is important to not be too reactive, and rather just pause, breathe, acknowledge the feeling, and then take a break. When you feel stressed or anxious, do something to get your mind off it and decompress. Take out your headphones and put on your favorite song, doing so can lift your mood, be motivating, and energize you to get your work done. To step it up a notch, use noise-canceling headphones, which can help you block out any frustrating and distracting background noise, and help you meditate as well. You can also try something like deep breathing during a quick desk meditation session. Close your eyes, and count to five as you inhale slowly and exhale. Doing so will slow you down if you have a racing mind or heart. 

You are probably not the only one that experiences lots of stress and pressure at work. Many of your co-workers are probably feeling the same way at one time or another. Therefore, share what you know about stress management, and doing so will help to create a supportive environment and help to make your team and workplace more wellness conscious. 

Treating Your Back Pain With Movement

Treating Your Back Pain With Movement

Out of all the injuries someone will go through in their life, there is none more prevalent and debilitating than that of a low back or spinal injury. Not only does the injury drain you of your power, strength, and mobility, it can also impact your mental wellbeing, and can be very tricky to fix.  

Many diagnoses come from observing MRI scans, and if something appears “off” on the scan, it is assumed that this specific area of the body must be the source of pain. This presumption could be incorrect for many reasons. First and foremost is that disc bulges are extremely common and very often show up on MRI scans. Researchers estimate that at least one third of healthy, pain free 20-year-olds have some sort of bulging disk in their spine. Not to mention the number increases by 10% for every decade of life. This means that about half of all 40-year-olds likely have a disc bulge yet experience no back pain whatsoever.  

In 2006 a group of researchers collected 200 MRI scans of individuals without any history of back pain. Those who developed severe pain during the study had new MRI’s taken and these results were compared to the original MRI’s. Shockingly, around 84 percent of these individuals who developed pain had absolutely no change in their spine from the original scan. In fact, some people even had improved markers compared to their original MRI. This study proves that abnormality in the MRI does not always correlate to that area being the root cause of pain. This is because it’s very hard to distinguish whether this is a day-old injury or one, they’ve had for 20 years.  

The MRI is also a very incomplete picture of how the spine functions. Most people with back pain experience pain doing different motions. For example, one of my clients with a bulging disk had absolutely no pain when he was standing or walking. However, whenever he bent over to pick something up, he felt it almost immediately. Other clients experience pain in extension, others in rotation, others with a combination of the two. Each of these individuals require drastically different treatment plans, but the only way we would be able to see that is by having them perform these movements. This is one of the very rare cases where a picture is not worth a thousand words. It’s simply a picture, and one we really shouldn’t be placing that much emphasis on. This is not to say to completely throw away the advice of your doctor. In fact, I would argue your doctor should be the first stop along the way to help with the diagnostic portion of your treatment plan. Even if a herniated or bulging disc is not the root cause of the problem, it is still a good idea to get a breakdown of what you’re dealing with. Disc issues can transfer to facet joints in the spine and eventually lead to things like plate fractures or spondolythesis. Always make sure to keep your doctor in the loop throughout your recovery process. If you have not seen any progressions in terms of movement and pain management, or if you are experiencing incontinence (loss of feeling or numbness) in your low body or pelvic floor, it may be time to discuss surgery options with your physician.  


So, if we want to fix our backs through movement, what can we do about it? In Physical therapy and movement-based therapies such as the ones we perform at LYMBR, we take our clients through something called a Movement Screen. Obviously, all back injuries are different, but most of them fall under the following categories. 

  1. Flexion intolerance (bending over to pick up a box)  
  2. Extension intolerance (arching your back)  
  3. Rotation with extension intolerance (Think golf swing)  
  4. Load intolerance (Think barbell squat)  

Our therapists are trained to help with any of the movement maladies mentioned above. However, there are 3 things you can do that can help no matter what you’re going through. 

1. First and foremost, take a look at your hips. Research has shown that rigid hips are a huge risk factor in the development of low back pain. Stiffness in the hip complex can lead to the spine moving out of neutral alignment during sport or day to day movement. Things like getting in and out of your car can become extremely painful as your tight hips result in the lower spine sustaining uneven forces as it moves into low positions. Another huge portion of the hip complex are the glutes. Many people do not have full access to their glutes due to pain in the hip complex. When we experience pain, the brain shuts down the neural drive to that particular part of the body in order to protect it. Mobility and activation exercises such as assisted hip airplanes, and glute bridges are beautiful corrective movements to help reintegrate the glutes into your biomechanics and assist in fixing back pain.  

2. Once these mobility restrictions have been addressed, you can start to build in better core exercises. I emphasize better because you’re not going to be doing a thousand crunches. In fact, the only three exercises you should be worrying about are referred to as “The McGill big 3”. These exercises were developed by famous Physical Therapist and spinal reconstruction wizard Stuart McGill. These exercises are phenomenal for spinal mechanic coordination, and are amazing for those with back pain as they are performed without placing excess stress onto areas of the back that are aggravated due to injury. Start with the Cat-cow stretch and perform this for 1-2 minutes before jumping into the following three exercises.  (All exercises are demonstrated below.)

  • McGill curl-up: do 3 sets of 5, 3, and 1 holding each rep for 8-10 seconds. 
  • Side plank on the knees: do 3 sets of 3 holding for 10 seconds each rep. 
  • Bird dog: Do 3 sets of 3-5 reps holding each position on each side for 10 seconds. Make sure to keep your back nice and straight and only extend from the hip and shoulder.  

3. Lastly, and this is very important, stop thinking of back pain as a low back problem. Your spine is one cohesive structure, and without all parts working together, you will never be entirely pain free.  Just as the hips can create pain in the low back, restrictions at your thoracic (mid-spine) can be just as problematic. Stretches such as a “prayer stretch” or the Feldenkrais shoulder and neck integrator can be extremely helpful in loosening up the mid back.  

MRI’s can be extremely helpful in understanding the diagnostic breakdown of your body. However, targeting one specific area of pain based on the results of an MRI is what I would call rearranging deck chairs on the titanic. It’s a nice gesture, but this is doing very little to contribute to the solution to the current problem. Addressing the root cause of spinal dysfunction is the best way to remedy pain and promote a healthy, fully functioning body. If you are experiencing back pain, we encourage you to come into our studio for an assessment and stretch with one of our stretch therapists. Our therapists can assist in eliminating any movement and mobility restrictions and get you on the path to recovery. Below you’ll find links to all the exercises listed above, as well as an option to book a session on our website.  


CAT COW: As you breathe in, arch your back and look up to the ceiling. As you breathe out round your back and drop your chin to your chest. Repeat for 5-10 breaths, do one or two times.  

ASSISTED HIP AIRPLANE: Keep the leg up throughout the exercise. Open your pelvis up and hold for 2 seconds. Repeat going the opposite direction. Repeat this for 5-10 times on each leg. Do it twice.  

MCGILL CURL UP: Bend one leg up, and place that same side hand underneath your low back. In this exercise imagine your head is on a scale. All you have to do is get that scale to read zero. Very slightly lift your head and hold for 10 seconds. Do this for 5 reps, 3 sets.  

SIDE PLANK: Hold for 10 seconds, 5 times. Repeat twice on both sides.  

BIRD DOG: Hold the top position for at least 3 seconds. Do 8 reps on both sides while pulling your belly button towards your spine. Repeat 1-2 times.  

PRAYER STRETCH: You can use a stationary bench or foam roller for this exercise. I prefer a stool or roller chair. Keep your weight back and extend your arms forward. Make sure to keep your weight back as you drop into the stretch or you will fall forward. Repeat for ten reps holding the bottom of the stretch for 2 seconds.  

FELDENKRAIS SHOULDER AND NECK INTEGRATOR: Grab your forhead and rotate backwards, repeat this 10 times on both sides. Breathe in as you turn back. Breathe out as you turn forward.  

Movement is medicine! These exercises and stretches are great to do even when you’re back is feeling really good – be proactive with your health and keep moving.

Written by Conner Fritchley, LYMBR Master Trainer, Darien Stretch Therapist.

Resistance Training As We Age

Resistance Training As We Age

It seems like all too often we hear on the news about older individuals taking nasty falls causing severe damage and trauma. Falls among the elderly population is the leading cause of injury and fatality in the US. In fact, according to the CDC, one in four individuals aged 65 and older report at least one fall per year. 

Loss of Muscle Mass  

There are a variety of factors that contribute to the increased likelihood of elderly falls such as medication side effects, impaired vision, or chronic diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease or Alzheimer’s. However, one of the main reasons is increased frailty due to loss of muscle mass. The progressive loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength, known as sarcopenia, is strongly correlated with falls as an older adult. Sarcopenia is often due to the slowed regeneration of muscle fibers and the loss of motor neurons with age. 

What is Resistance Training?     

Although the elderly population is at risk for falls due to muscle atrophy, it can be prevented and maintained. Resistance training is a form of exercise that increases muscular strength and endurance. Resistance training causes muscles to contract, creating an increased number of cross-bridges within the muscle fibers. This ultimately leads to muscle cell enlargement, or hypertrophy.  

Benefits for the Older Population 

There are many benefits of resistance training for the aging population. Increasing muscle mass improves the stability of joints and balance, which is key for carrying out activities of daily life such as carrying groceries, walking up the stairs, and standing up from a chair. Increased muscle mass by resistance training can also improve flexibility and joint range of motion. Increased range of motion is important because it allows the muscles to stretch to their full potential. 

This makes simple tasks such as reaching for a glass on the top shelf much easier for older individuals, allowing them to be more independent. Resistance training can also improve the psychological well-being of older adults by increasing serotonin levels in the brain.  

Clearly resistance training is just as important for the elderly population as aerobic training, so how frequently should older adults engage in resistance training? According to the American College of Sports Medicine, lower to moderate intensity resistance training of 65% – 75% of maximum exercise capacity is recommended for adults 65 and older to increase muscle mass. On two to four days per week, three sets of 10 -15 repetitions with lower weight is ideal for older adults to build strength. Resistance training sessions of about 30 minutes per session has been shown to deliver the best results for older adults to increase muscle mass.  

Resistance training is critical for older adults to improve their functional abilities to prevent serious injuries and potentially fatal falls. Don’t know where to start? Ask your stretch therapist for advice. We are all certified personal trainers who have either worked as, or worked with strength coaches, yoga teachers, Pilates teachers, powerlifting instructors, boxing/kickboxing instructors, and bodybuilding coaches. We love the health industry, and are more than happy to help, or at the very least point you in the right direction.  

Written by Megan Davenport. Megan is a Stretch Therapist in our Newton, MA studio. Click here to book a session with her.